Contributing Lawyers

Canada

Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross

Australia

Andrew Hudson



ALERT: Foreign Manufacturers: Manufacturers of Electrical Products DISTRIBUTED in Ontario MUST Register by August 30, 2009

The Ontario Electrical Safety Authority (the ESA) is requiring ALL manufacturers (domestic and foreign) of electrical products DISTRIBUTED in ONTARIO to register.

At the start of this post, I will acknowledge that this looks like a non-tariff barrier. This registration requirement may act as a deterrent to foreign manufacturers who do not want to get on an Ontario government list. The ESA has a legitimate interest in protecting consumers in Ontario who buy electrical products. But, and this is a trade lawyer's perspective, in the current protectionist climate - one must ask whether this is a disguised restriction on trade.

The ESA is a not-for-profit corporation that operates as an administrative authority in the province of Ontario. The ESA has introduced an initiative, which requires manufacturers (domestic and foreign) of electrical products distributed in Ontario to register. Registration must be completed by August 30, 2009. The Ontario-based importers, distributors and wholesalers cannot register on behalf of foreign manufacturers. However, importers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers are not required to register, but need to be aware of the requirements to sell approved products.

This is why I am concerned that the initiative is a disguised restriction on trade. Why restrict the registration to manufacturers when the protection of consumers can be achieved if the importers, distributors and wholesalers can register. Further, the federal consumer protection legislation that has not yet been passed clearly establishes a regime for importers, distributors, retailers, wholesalers to participate in recalls and report problems.

The objective of this initiative is to provide a means for ESA to identify manufacturers responsible for the products sold in Ontario if remedial action is required.

What products are covered by the initiative?

Answer:

  • consumer electrical products (e.g. hair dryers, refrigerators);
  • commercial electrical products (e.g.commercial freezers);
  • electrical medical devices;
  • industrial electrical products (e.g. heavy machinery);
  • wiring devices and products;
  • battery-operated products used in hazardous locations;
  • external power supplies used for recharging purposes which could be used with battery-operated products;
  • hard-wired and plug-in feature products used for a life safety and/or protection function (e.g. smoke detector, CO detector);
  • certified components used in any of the above.

What information is required to register?

Answer: The registration form will ask for the following information:

  • company name;
  • contact name;
  • mailing address;
  • telephone and fax numbers;
  • email address;
  • certification bodies with which the company works (select from list);
  • brand name(s) used;
  • classification(s) of products manufactured (select from list).

Registrations must be renewed on an annual basis.

For more information, please go to the following site - http://www.esainspection.net/product_safety/faq_importers_distributors_wholesalers_retailers_electrical_products.php

Or contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak at 416-307-4168. Lang Michener LLP can assist foreign manufacturers obtain their registration and renew their registrations as required. We also are willing to discuss whether the initiative complies with Ontario law and Canada's international obligations if an affected party wishes to canvass those issues instead of or in addition to registering.

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