Last year, we implemented regulation changes to contractor advertising that requires licensed contractors in BC to add their licence number when advertising regulated work related to gas, electrical, boilers, pressure vessels, refrigeration, or elevating. Changes are being rolled out in three phases between January 2023 and January 2024. We know this is a big adjustment and you may have questions about what this means for you or your company. Here we will answer ten of the most common questions related to the new advertising guidelines.
Q1: How are these changes providing value to licensed contractors?
Displaying your licence number on your advertising materials will allow the public to better distinguish contractors that are licensed between those who are not. To raise awareness and supplement this legislative change, we have launched an ongoing communications campaign to educate the public on the importance of looking for the licence number and hiring a contractor that is licensed. These campaigns encourage the public to look for the licence number or ask contractors if they are licensed, they describe the risks of working with an unlicensed contractor, and provide guidance on how to search for a contractor on our online Find a Licensed Contractor tool. In addition, we have created content on increasing contractor awareness of the legislative changes and how they can comply. The more licensed contractors that display their licence number, the greater the awareness will be generated among the public.
Q2: How will you make sure contractors are following the guidelines?
A: We’re currently focused on helping licensed contractors understand the changes and how they will need to apply them. Part of this is encouraging licensed contractors to display their licence number on advertising materials to differentiate themselves from unlicensed contractors. After implementation in 2024, we will assess if licensed contractors have made a reasonable attempt to comply and may document administrative non-compliances related to this legislative requirement. In addition, we will focus on identifying unlicensed contractors advertising regulatory services.
Q3: How will the regulation and changes address the underground economy?
The legislative changes will assist us in identifying contractors operating without a licence and enable us to focus our investigation activities more clearly on advertising activities. The changes also allow us to take compliance and enforcement action more efficiently and effectively as we can identify unlicensed contractors advertising. Prior to this change, we would have to prove that regulated work had taken place before enforcement action could be taken. Now, we can issue monetary penalties to unlicensed contractors upon proving, through investigation, that an unlicensed contractor was advertising illegally.
Q4: How will you assess my company’s compliance with the new advertising guidelines?
A: Over the implementation period, we will encourage contractors to follow the guidelines. The more licensed contractors that comply and display their licence number in their advertising, the more impact this regulatory change will have towards the public in their ability to differentiate your business from an unlicensed contractor. We will consider whether you are making a reasonable attempt to comply with the regulation as supported by the guidelines in your overall advertising activities.
Q5: How will this regulatory change apply to companies that offer services across Canada and the US? We only have one website, one set of social media channels, and one fleet of company vehicles for the entire organization versus per province.
A: The legislation applies within BC and does not apply to other jurisdictions your company may operate within. Where your company offers regulated services for sale in BC, the guidelines recommend that your company include your licence number on your company website and in your company social media profile. If you use certain company vehicles primarily within BC, the guidelines recommend that your company include your licence number on the vehicle. We will consider whether you are making a reasonable attempt to comply with the regulation as supported by the guidelines in your overall advertising activities.
Q6: Is there any way for the public to check if a licence is valid?
A: Yes, the Find a Licensed Contractor search tool on our website enables you to search by company name or licence number. This lookup tool contains information for all active licensed contractors. There are several ways to search for licensed contractors using this tool including by name, partial name, licence number, or by head office location.
Q7: Do we need to display our Technical Safety BC licence number (e.g., TSBC Licence LXX1234567) on unmarked company vehicles?
A: No. The guidelines recommend that you display the company licence number on all branded company vehicles, as branding implies that the vehicle is being used for advertising purposes. Vehicles that are not branded are not considered to be for advertising purposes and are therefore exempt from the guidelines.
Q8: What will you do if you find unlicensed contractors advertising regulated services?
A: We plan to identify and investigate unlicensed contractors that are found advertising regulated services. Throughout that investigation, we will identify situations where unlicensed contractors could become compliant and licensed, or we may choose to leverage our enforcement tools including compliance orders, discipline orders, and monetary penalties.
This year, we are beginning to understand the nature of in-bound reports of potentially unlicensed contractors advertising regulated services (e.g. which advertising channels, technologies, regions are producing cases), and will review those reports to determine if they require further inquiry. We are also conducting a range of out-bound investigations to understand which advertising channels produce the most cases of unlicensed contractors
We also plan to leverage the Voluntary Disclosure Program to onboard unlicensed contractors into the safety system. If they do not participate in that program additional compliance and enforcement activity will be pursued, potentially including monetary penalties.
Q9: What is the purpose of requiring licence number on storefronts, vehicles, and other major assets?
A: In January 2024, a licence number is required for storefronts, vehicles, and other major assets that advertise services that are regulated. Branded vehicles and storefronts that display the company name are a major source of passive advertising which is visible to the public. Having a licence number displayed will support the public in understanding that this is an accredited occupation and will help them differentiate your business from unlicensed contractors. After implementation, we plan to investigate instances of branded vehicles advertising regulated services without displaying a licence number. Vehicles may be one of the easiest advertising channels to investigate as in most cases those vehicles include company name and contact information (where this is not always the case with online advertising).
Getting your contractor licence demanded your time, hard work, and investment. Although your clients may not fully understand the complexities of the licensing procedure, they do recognize the value of working with a licensed contractor rather than an unlicensed one. Learn more about the regulation changes for licensed contractors or visit our FAQs for more information.