Building Materials Evaluation Commission business plan 2023–2026
Learn about our activities and plans for authorizing new and innovative building materials, systems and designs for use in Ontario.
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The Building Materials Evaluation Commission (the “Commission”) is a regulatory agency whose legislative authority is set out in Section 28 of the Building Code Act, 1992.
The Commission has a mandate to evaluate and authorize, subject to conditions, any innovative construction materials, systems or building designs for use in construction in Ontario. In doing so, the Commission has the power to conduct, or cause to be conducted, research, analysis and evaluation of such innovative materials, systems and building designs. The Commission is not a testing body, but may require that testing be carried out by an applicant as part of its evaluation.
The Commission also has the authority to make recommendations to the Minister respecting changes to the Building Code Act, 1992, or the Building Code as amended.
In exercising its mandate, the Commission receives all of its staffing and financial resources from the Building and Development Branch of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (the “Ministry”).
As an agency authorized under the Building Code Act, 1992, the Commission exercises powers and performs duties in accordance with its mandate under that statute. The agency’s regulatory activities and decisions must be made, and be seen by the public to be made, independently and impartially. The Commission makes decisions independently from the Ministry and the Government of Ontario.
The Commission has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (the “Minister”) relating to the exercise of its mandate. The Memorandum of Understanding sets out the relationship between the Commission Chair and the Minister and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing with respect to the Commission and the service it provides. The purpose of the Memorandum of Understanding is to establish the responsibilities of these parties and to ensure that accountability is a fundamental principle observed in the management, administration and operations of the Commission.
As an agency of government, the Commission conducts itself according to the management principles of the Government of Ontario. The Commission’s proceedings are governed by the Building Code Act, 1992, the Building Code, the Building Materials Evaluation Commission’s Guidelines, Policies and Procedures Handbook, and Management Board of Cabinet Directives. These principles and governance elements include ethical behaviour, accountability, excellence in management, wise use of public funds, and high-quality service to the public, through contributing to the health, safety, accessibility and energy efficiency of buildings in Ontario and by playing a positive role within Ontario’s construction sector.
The strategic direction and objectives of the Commission ensures that the mandate to conduct and authorize the examination of materials, systems and building designs for construction. The Commission’s strategic direction is consistent with its mandate, government priorities for the agency sector, key policies and directives.
As part of the government of Ontario, agencies are expected to act in the best interests of Ontarians by being efficient, effective, and providing value for money to taxpayers. In alignment with this expectation, the Commission’s direction and objectives are consistent with the following government priorities:
Transparency and Accountability
- Abide by applicable government directives and policies and ensuring transparency and accountability in reporting
- Adhere to accounting standards and practices, and responding to audit findings, where applicable
- Identify appropriate skills, knowledge and experience needed to effectively support the board’s role in agency governance and accountability
- Develop and implement an effective process for the identification, assessment, and mitigation of agency risks, including COVID‑19 impacts and any future emergency risks
Digital Delivery and Customer Service
- Explore and implement digitization for online service delivery to ensure customer service standards are met
- Use a variety of approaches or tools to ensure service delivery in all situations, including pursuing delivery methods that have evolved since COVID‑19
The Commission endeavours to provide a timely, cost-effective and streamlined process for evaluating and authorizing new and innovative materials, systems and building designs for use in Ontario. In further alignment with the government’s priorities, the Commission continues to maintain its compliance with the Management Board of Cabinet’s Agencies and Appointments Directive including the completion and public posting of the business plan and annual report each year; adheres to the government’s risk management and reporting process and continues to use tools for online service delivery to accept applications and schedule meetings.
The Commission has earned a reputation as an effective, useful and quality service provider within the construction industry. The Commission does, however, face certain challenges. To address these challenges and to improve its ongoing operations and client service delivery, the Commission plans to continue with the following initiatives in the coming years.
Recommendations to the Minister
The Commission continually reviews existing authorizations to determine whether there is a need to make recommendations to the Minister regarding changes to the Building Code and/or whether there is additional need for revocation of authorizations based on the current edition of the Building Code.
The Commission has not made any recommendations to the Minister in the current fiscal year.
Time to decisions/authorizations
Following receipt of an application, the Commission aims to make a decision or issue an authorization within 120 days of the initial consideration by the Commission. This time frame is an accurate reflection of the average time frame the Commission requires to evaluate applications.
The Commission strives to be transparent in their process with respect to the evaluation of an application and to improve documentation of the evaluation process in keeping with the government’s priority on building greater transparency and accountability.
The Commission continues to monitor and review its processes for making decisions to determine if there are efficiencies that can be achieved.
As part of succession planning, the Commission believes it is necessary to have a longer period of overlap between sitting members and newly appointed members than has been afforded in the past. Ideally an overlap of nine months would allow for knowledge transfer from existing members to newly appointed members and permit new members to be mentored.
In addition to ensuring an adequate number of members, the Commission must also work at maintaining the knowledge base of its membership, so it is important for the Commission to continue to solicit new members with expertise that reflects the full spectrum of technical disciplines (for example, fire safety, plumbing, mechanical, on-site sewage systems, etc.). As described in the Memorandum of Understanding, the role of the Chair includes keeping the Minister informed of upcoming appointment vacancies and providing recommendations for appointments and/or reappointments to the Commission.
Annual survey of clients
The Commission intends to continue its independent survey which assists the Commission in determining satisfaction with levels of service delivery.
Overview of key activities
Staff supporting the Commission is responsible for application in-take, process management and customer service to persons wishing to apply to the Commission for an authorization. Upon receipt of an application, the Commission’s Secretary ensures that the prescribed information and documentation has been submitted. The Secretary then enquires with the Canadian Construction Materials Centre (the “CCMC”) whether they have examined, or expressed an interest in examining, a product. If the CCMC has examined, or expressed an interest in examining a product, the Commission may lack the jurisdiction to carry out an evaluation, pursuant to Subsection 29 (8) of the Building Code Act, 1992.
The Secretary of the Commission is the Ministry staff person assigned to support the Building Materials Evaluation Commission and is responsible for overall administration and policy development as directed by the Commission. This involves working with the Minister’s Office regarding the appointments process, issues management, business planning, performance measurement, monitoring of expenditures, and ensuring compliance with agency sector requirements and Management Board of Cabinet directives.
The Commission, as a whole, is required to make decisions on applications, but subcommittees are usually established to carry out detailed evaluations. These subcommittees consist of Commission members who are familiar with, and/or expert in, the field of technology associated with the application. The Commission may request comments from Ministry technical staff.
The number of evaluations conducted, and subsequent authorizations issued, are determined based on the volume of applications received. Typically, the Commission holds one general meeting each month and, depending on case load, with an average of three subcommittee meetings in the same period. The issuance of decisions by the Commission usually takes three to four months, depending on the complexity of the application and the additional information required of the applicants and the timeliness of their response.
The Commission notes that when applicants choose not to make a presentation to the Commission it results in lengthier reviews; the work required to communicate between the Commission and applicants for authorizations increases. Further, the number of occasions where the Commission has had to undertake a significant jurisdictional review of an application has increased. All of these factors have an impact on the number of subcommittee meetings required to fully evaluate new and innovative products.
Chart 1 below provides a summary of the Commission’s caseload over the last five years:
|Fiscal year||Applications received||Authorizations issued||Authorizations amended/revised||Authorizations revoked||Expired authorization|
The rate of applications to the Commission has had some fluctuations during the past five fiscal years. The Commission notes that the increase in the number of applications received for the 2018–2019 fiscal year may be the result of the expiration policy (authorizations now expire every five years). The Commission also notes that the increased application fee (in effect since 2018) may have an impact on an applicant’s decision to apply to the Commission.
Maintaining existing authorizations
In addition to new applications, the Commission also considers requests for amendments to existing authorizations and also reviews its existing authorizations for possible revocation. Applications for amendments are processed in much the same manner as a new application. The Commission reviews and evaluates the details of the proposed amendment as innovative products, systems and designs are modified and updated. The process for review and revocation adds to the workload of the Commission and its staff.
When there is a new edition of the Building Code, the Commission also reviews its existing authorizations against the new Building Code requirements to determine whether the Code has established requirements for materials, systems or building designs that were previously specified by individual authorizations. These reviews add to the workload of the Commission.
Due to the COVID‑19 outbreak, the Commission staff and members adapted to working remotely. To deliver its services, the Commission began accepting electronic applications and holding meetings remotely via telephone and video conferencing. These measures are in keeping with the government’s priority to support COVID‑19 recovery and enhance digital delivery and customer service.
Several steps have been taken to enhance the Commission’s performance and accountability over the past several years, including continued monitoring of Commission-specific performance measures in keeping with the government’s priority on enhancing customer service, transparency and accountability. The Commission identifies the following achievements:
- Continued to provide a cost-effective and expeditious mechanism for evaluation of new and innovative materials, systems and building designs.
- On-going maintenance and upkeep of existing Authorizations.
- Continued its practice of surveying clients after the close of the fiscal year (for example, after March 31, 2022 for this business plan).
- Survey results of clients that used Commission services in the 2021–2022 fiscal year indicated that:
- 100% agreed that they were treated fairly
- 100% felt that the processes and procedures were clear and understandable
- 100% felt that the processes and procedures had a high degree of quality and consistency
- 100% felt that they were treated with courtesy by Commission staff and Commission members
- In keeping with the government’s priority on building greater transparency and accountability the Commission continues to maintain compliance with the Management Board of Cabinet’s Agencies and Appointments Directive:
- its three-year Business Plan was prepared, finalized and submitted within the specified time frame
- its Annual Report for 2021–2022 fiscal year was completed and submitted within the specified time frame
- Consistent with the government’s priority of risk management, the Commission continues to monitor risks including identifying and assessing the risks and proposing mitigation strategies which are reported in the business plan each year.
The Commission presently has a total of 9 part-time members, including the Chair. The vice-chair position is currently vacant. All members are appointed by Order-in-Council. Management Board of Cabinet’s Agencies and Appointments Directive permits individuals appointed to the Commission to serve a combined term of appointment of up to 10 years.
The following divisions of the Ministry and government cluster support the Commission in fulfilling the Agencies and Appointments Directive:
- Planning and Growth Division’s Building and Development Branch
- Business Management Division’s Corporate Services Branch and Controllership and Financial Planning Branch
- Legal Services Branch
- Community Services Information and Information Technology Cluster
The Commission receives all of its staffing and financial resources from the Building and Development Branch of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (The “Ministry”).
The direct support staff assigned by the Ministry to the Commission consists of a 0.8 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the Commission Secretary. The Secretary is responsible for the overall administration of the Commission. This involves managing the appointments process, issues management, business planning, performance measurements, monitoring of expenditures, and ensuring compliance with agency sector requirements and Management Board of Cabinet directives.
The Commission has no financial budget of its own. The Commission is supported by Ministry staff. The operating expenses for this Commission are funded through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing budget.
The Budget and Outlook for the three-year planning period is based on an estimated application rate of six applications (using historical data and projecting forward). In general, actual expenses for any given fiscal year are impacted by the number of applications, meetings and members. In fiscal year 2021–2022 and year-to-date December 2022, the Commission has conducted all of its meetings virtually, resulting in no travel expenses being incurred. As the Commission is moving to a hybrid model, where some meetings will be in-person, it is anticipated that travel/meeting expenses will be incurred.
Chart 2 below provides details on the costs associated with supporting the Commission:
|Expense||2021–2022 actuals||2022–2023 year-to-date actuals||2023–2024 budget||2024–2025 outlook||2025–2026 outlook|
|Members’ per diems||$30,247||$19,782||$111,000||$111,000||$111,000|
|Members’ travel/meeting expenses||$0||$0||$23,300||$24,000||$24,700|
|Full time equivalent (FTE)||0.8||0.8||0.8||0.8||0.8|
|FTE costs (salary + benefits)||$40,553||$48,839||$67,300||$70,000||$72,800|
Note: Numbers may not add due to rounding.
Revenues in the form of application fees are recorded as part of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s non-tax revenues. The current fee for applications which became effective on January 1, 2018, is $11,000.
Chart 3 below provides details of the revenues associated with applications to the Commission:
|2022–2023 year-to-date actuals|
The agency communicates with applicants and potential applicants through appropriate publications, forms and instructions, either posted on the public website or distributed on request.
Telephone and email inquiries are responded by the Secretary of the Commission.
Conditions with impacts on the business plan
New commission members
The Commission will need to work at maintaining its membership both in terms of sufficient numbers of members and sufficient expertise to reflect the full spectrum of technical disciplines (for example, fire safety, plumbing, mechanical, on-site sewage systems, etc.).
In previous Business Plans, the Commission has indicated that it would be appropriate for new members to be appointed to the Commission before the existing members appointments had ended. This would allow existing members to mentor the newer appointees. Ideally an overlap of at least nine months would allow for knowledge transfer from existing members to newly appointed members and permit mentoring of new members.
From April 2022 to December 2022, there were 6 reappointments. No other members’ OIC is set to expire this fiscal year.
Changes in demand/Nature of work
The complexity of applications received by the Commission and the move to green technologies, many of which may be considered innovative, influences the need for appropriately skilled Commission members and the degree of administrative support required by the Commission. Skilled members and adequate staffing are required to maintain service levels.
When the 2012 edition of the Building Code came into force on January 1, 2014, the Commission began reviewing its existing authorizations against the new Building Code requirements to determine whether the Code has established requirements for materials, systems or building designs that were previously specified by individual authorizations.
A similar exercise will need to be undertaken when a new edition of the Building Code comes into force. These reviews may have an impact on the workload of the Commission.
In addition, over 10 years ago, the Commission instituted a five-year expiry date on its authorizations. If current authorization holders wish to continue to hold an authorization, they would need to apply to the Commission every five years. This may have an impact on the workload of the Commission.
From April 1st, 2020, COVID‑19 may have impacted the number of applications that were received. Moreover, the increased application fees (last increase occurred in 2018) may have also affected the number of applications received which would have an impact on the workload of the Commission.
As part-time appointees, Commission members receive remuneration in the form of a per diem as established by Treasury Board/Management Board of Cabinet. This per diem ranges from $472 for members to $583 for the Vice-Chair and $744 for the Chair. Commission members are also reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses associated with attending Commission meetings in Toronto and elsewhere in the province. Due to COVID‑19 and work from home policies and holding hearings remotely, travel costs were significantly reduced. Costs associated with Commission activities, including operating costs and member per diems, form part of the overall budget for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Changes to the Commission’s application rate and/or complexity of issues directly impact the Ministry’s budget in support of Commission activities.
Performance measures and targets
The Commission has adopted the recommendations for performance measurement established in 2000 by the Agency Reform (Guzzo) Commission. These are:
- quality and consistency
Chart 4 below are the results of the Commission’s performance.
|Outcomes||Measures||Targets||2021–2022 status||2023–2026 commitments|
|Fairness (processes and procedures that are fair and are seen to be fair)||Applicants are satisfied that the process was balanced, appropriate and fair||No more than 10% of Commission decisions should result in judicial review on an annual basis||Target met. Not more than 10% of decisions resulted in a judicial review in the 2021–2022 fiscal year||Not more than 10% of Commission decisions should result in judicial review on an annual basis|
|Timeliness (quick and careful evaluation of innovative construction materials, systems and designs)||Average number of months from receipt of application to decision||Decisions made or authorization issued within an average of 120 days after the first Building Materials Evaluation Commission meeting following receipt of a complete application||Target met. Decisions made or authorizations issued were done within an average of 120 days after the first Building Materials Evaluation Commission meeting upon receipt of complete application||Decisions made within an average of 120 days after the first Building Materials Evaluation Commission meeting following receipt of a complete application|
|Quality and Consistency (process and procedures that have integrity and uniformity)||Applicants are satisfied that the Commission process was conducted with a high degree of quality and consistency||85% of applicants feel that the process had a high degree of quality and consistency||Target met. 2021–2022 survey results indicate 100% of respondents felt that the process had a high degree of quality and consistency||85% of applicants feel that the process had a high degree of quality and consistency|
|Transparency (clear and understandable process and procedures)||Applicants are satisfied that the Commission process and procedures were clearly understood||85% of applicants feel that the process and procedures were clear and understandable||Target met. 2021–2022 survey results indicate that 100% of respondents felt that the process and procedures were clear and understandable||85% of applicants feel that the process and procedures were clear and understandable|
|Expertise (Careful and sound Commission decisions made due to technical competence of members)||a) Applicants are satisfied that the Commission members demonstrated an appropriate level of knowledge and technical competency|
b) Timely notice to the Minister’s Office regarding upcoming Commission member terms of appointment expiration
|a) 85% of applicants feel that Commission authorizations reflected a high degree of technical knowledge and expertise appropriate to the proposal|
b) Six months’ notice is provided to the Minister’s Office in advance of member’s appointments expiring
|a) Target met. 2021–2022 survey results indicate that 100% of respondents were satisfied that members were subject matter experts|
b) Target met. The Ministry was provided with 180 days’ notice in advance of member appointments expiring in the fiscal year 2021–2022
|a) 85% of applicants feel that Commission authorizations reflected a high degree of technical knowledge and expertise appropriate to the proposal|
b) Six months’ notice will be provided to the Minister’s Office in advance of member’s appointments expiring
|Courtesy (polite and courteous treatment of all parties)||Parties are satisfied that they were treated with courtesy throughout the application and evaluation process||85% of parties surveyed feel that they were treated with courtesy throughout the application and evaluation process||Target met. 2021–2022 survey results indicate that 100% of respondents felt that they were treated with courtesy by Commission staff throughout the application process and 100% felt that they were treated with courtesy by the Commission members||85% of applicants feel that they are treated with courtesy throughout the application and evaluation process|
Based on the Commission’s strategic directions and objectives, the following risk to performance has been identified. Mitigation strategies (including contingency plans, mitigation controls, and monitoring where required as part of prudent risk management protocols) are identified in keeping with the government’s priority to improve risk management.
The Reference Impact and Probability Matrix used in this assessment is below:
|Impact||Low probability||Medium probability||High probability|
|High||Mitigation controls /|
|Mitigation controls / contingency plans;|
|Take urgent remedial action;|
|Medium||Tolerate; monitor||Mitigation controls / contingency plans||Mitigation controls / contingency plans;|
|Low||Tolerate; no action||Tolerate; monitor||Mitigation controls / contingency plan|
Risk: Lack of knowledge transfer/succession planning impacting timeliness and quality
Insufficient overlap between sitting members, whose terms are nearing expiration, and newly appointed members has historically resulted in slower processing of applications. Newly appointed members are unfamiliar with Commission processes; therefore, there are delays in processing applications. Familiarity with past applications and Commission processes is important, and quality and speed of work suffers when there is insufficient overlap of member tenure.
The Commission has continued to express interest in having more overlap between sitting members and newly appointed members than has been afforded in the past.
The terms of appointment of all of the current membership will expire during the period covered by this plan. If a significant number of members are either not interested in being reappointed or are not reappointed, then this risk of insufficient knowledge transfer and reduced authorization production will increase.
Extensive simultaneous changes in Commission membership can result in a disproportionate workload on some members, and creates difficulty in determining the appropriate composition of a subcommittee. Newer members, while they may be technically experienced, would ideally require time to learn the processes of the Commission from more experienced members.
The Commission Chair and staff will continue to work with the government and the Public Appointments Secretariat to seek appointments of new members more often and in smaller groups, so that members terms of appointment expire in smaller groups.
This strategy will allow the Commission to improve succession planning, achieve appointment overlaps, allowing for knowledge transfer from existing members to newly appointed members, achieve an appropriate balance of geographical representation, promote mentoring of new members; and achieve and maintain membership having expertise in all technical disciplines (fire safety, plumbing, mechanical, on-site sewage systems, etc.).
With this risk being evaluated as medium probability and medium impact, the Commission, together with Ministry staff and other government bodies will continue developing strategies to distribute appointment expiry dates in a more staggered fashion.
- footnote Back to paragraph On a go forward basis, the Commission will track expired authorizations. In 2021, the Commission completed its work to ensure that all authorizations have an expiry day. Number of expired authorizations may impact future caseload.
- footnote Back to paragraph The actuals for 2022–2023 do not reflect the entire fiscal period. The numbers are actuals that cover the period from April 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022.
- footnote Back to paragraph The Commission’s fiscal year runs from April 1 to March 31. The actuals for 2021–2022 cover the period from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.
- footnote Back to paragraph The actuals for 2022–2023 do not reflect the entire fiscal period, the numbers cover the period from April 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022.
- footnote Back to paragraph The total operating expenses cover costs associated with meetings, administration costs, per diems for Commission members and reimbursement for out-of-pocket travel expenses related to meetings. These include hotel accommodations, meal allowances, parking and public transit. in accordance with the Management Board of Cabinet’s Travel, Meal and Hospitality Expenses Directive. For fiscal year 2021–2022 and year-to-date December 2022, note that COVID‑19 and work from home policies eliminated the members’ travel times which reduced the per diem costs and expenses related to travel and meetings. In addition, year-to-date December 2022 actuals are lower than expected as the Commission is working with nine members and the vice-chair position is currently vacant; and fewer meetings were held to-date.
- footnote Back to paragraph The number of meetings is determined by the application rate. Member per diem remuneration rates are established by the Management Board of Cabinet’s Agencies and Appointments Directive applying to part-time OIC appointed members. The Budget and Outlook for 2023–2024 and ongoing are based on an estimated application rate (using historical data and projecting forward), current member per diem remuneration rates and other operating expenses noted above.
- footnote Back to paragraph In 2021–2022, salaries and benefits are lower than expected due to a vacancy for part of the year. Ministry staff ensured that administration support continued to be provided to the Commission during this period.
- footnote Back to paragraph Revenue Budget and Outlook for the three-year planning period are based on receiving six Commission applications per year based on the last Building Code cycle (2007–2012).
- footnote Back to paragraph Includes one application fee that was earned in fiscal year 2021–2022 but was processed in 2022–2023.