March 15, 2017
The Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) has launched a public awareness campaign to educate homeowners on things to look for when hiring a contractor.

The campaign also aims to educate consumers about their rights and responsibilities under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), including many details concerning written contracts. The information is also helpful for landscape professionals who deal with homeowners on a regular basis.

Under the campaign, consumers are encouraged to check if contractor’s employees are covered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), get estimates from at least three contractors, check references and set a clear budget.

When it comes to contracts and payments, the MOL recommends a down payment of no more than 10 per cent and advises against making any cash deals. Contractors should include an estimate as part of the contract and cannot charge more than 10 per cent above the estimated cost unless a new price is agreed upon and the contract is changed.

Contracts should also include a thorough description of the project with details of the work to be done and materials to be used, a clear description of any warranties, the total cost and terms of payment, a work schedule with start and completion dates, a payment schedule (including any deposit amount) and a list of sub-trades and who will pay them.

The MOL is also reminding homeowners that under the Construction Lien Act, a client can retain 10 per cent of the contract price for up to 45 days after the project is completed to ensure the quality of work and in case sub-trades are not paid by the contractor.

Clients also have the right to a 10 calendar-day cooling-off period for any signed contract worth over $50, for which they can cancel for any reason without cancellation fees. If work has started within those 10 days, the homeowner is required to compensate the contractor for any work or materials provided.

Full details can be found on the Ontario website at