May 15, 2011
Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey saw his private member’s bill Call Before You Dig Act receive all-party support during debate on Apr. 21, and pass unanimously through second reading in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

The next step on the legislative journey is an in-depth review in one of the Assembly’s standing committees, before receiving a final third vote.   

Dubbed Bill 180, if passed it will establish Ontario One Call Ltd. as a not-for-profit call centre, a single point-of-contact for all underground utility location services in Ontario.

The proposal is that all owners of underground assets would be required to join the not-for-profit Ontario One Call network, giving excavators access to a free, single point-of-contact for comprehensive underground locate information. Some areas of the province have experienced great delays in the system.

“I’m very happy that the other parties have seen the value in this important bill,” said Bailey, following the vote. “This bill isn’t just about streamlining a confusing system to make it easier to dig in your backyard; it’s about preventing accidents and saving lives.”

Failing to locate underground and overhead utilities prior to construction has led to property damage totalling nearly $33 million each year. This represents a significant loss of revenue, as well as productivity and efficiency for businesses of all sizes.

“A mandatory one-call system has four major benefits,” said Paul Rietdyk, vice president of distribution operations for Union Gas. “Most importantly, it reduces risk and will save lives, it’s more cost-effective than a voluntary system, it’s business-friendly in that it will improve productivity for excavators and it works effectively. For instance, in the U.S., mandatory one call systems have been successfully implemented in all 50 jurisdictions. In a four-year period, damages have dropped by 70 per cent.”