The law

In Ontario, Consumer Protection Inspectors have the power to inspect businesses under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).

Consumer Protection Inspectors follow the guidelines under the Regulator’s Code of Practice. If you’re in charge of the business or the manager of the site where the inspection is taking place, you can ask questions and request clarification throughout the process. It’s important that you do not obstruct or interfere with the inspection and that you truthfully answer all questions and provide any supporting documents that are requested.

Why there are inspections

A Consumer Protection Inspector may attend your business to conduct an inspection to:

  • check for compliance with legal requirements (for example, such as proper signage and contracts, among other requirements) or
  • ​follow up on a prior inspection where violations or problems were recorded

What to expect

Consumer Protection Inspectors will identify themselves and provide proof of their authority to inspect your business.

The Consumer Protection Inspector will ask to speak to the person in charge of the business or the manager of the site where the inspection is taking place. The Consumer Protection Inspector will explain the purpose of the inspection and outline any areas that may be of specific concern.

An inspection may take anywhere from an hour to several days, depending on the type and size of business being inspected.

While on site, the Consumer Protection Inspector will collect information to evaluate whether the business is in compliance and make notes to record details of the inspection. Consumer Protection Inspectors may:

  • examine anything he or she believes may be relevant to the inspection
  • require you to produce  materials (e.g., records, receipts) the inspectors believe may be relevant to the inspection
  • require you to cooperate with and assist in the inspection
  • remove for review and/or copy anything they deem relevant
  • use data storage, information processing or other devices used in your business to produce any relevant records in readable form
  • question any of your employees on matters that relate to the inspection

After the inspection

After the inspection is complete, the Consumer Protection Inspector will tell you about what they have observed, explain the next steps you must take and provide any education and supporting materials.

The Consumer Protection Inspector may also leave you with a warning letter. The warning letter outlines any violations observed at the time of the inspection, and requests that you bring the items into compliance within a specific timeframe, usually 30 days.

You can provide any feedback you may have about your inspection by calling 1-888-745-8888 or filling out an online feedback form.

If you don’t comply

If your business does not comply with the Consumer Protection Act after the Consumer Protection Inspector issues a warning letter, a Notice of Proposed Order may be issued which is a notice that the Consumer Protection Inspector will issue a compliance order in 15 days, legally requiring you to comply with the Consumer Protection Act, unless you seek a hearing on the proposal at the Licence Appeal Tribunal.

Notice of Proposed Order

If you wish to dispute the proposed order, you may request a hearing before the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT) within 15 days after receiving the Notice of Proposed Order. If you do not request a hearing, an order will issued and become legally binding.

Hearing Request

To request a hearing, you must:

  • complete the Licence Appeal Tribunal’s Notice of Appeal form. This form is available on the Tribunal’s website at: www.lat.gov.on.ca or by calling the Tribunal at 416-314-4260 (Toronto area) or 1-800-255-2214 (toll free).

Note: The Notice of Appeal form has important information on the Tribunal’s filing requirements, including the acceptable methods of payment for the Tribunal’s $100 non-refundable filing fee, as well as additional required documents.

  • send copies of the completed Notice of Appeal form and the Notice of Proposed Order, as well as any additional required documents, to:

Licence Appeal Tribunal
20 Dundas Street West, Suite 530
Toronto, Ontario M5G 2C2
Fax: 416-314-4270 or 1-800-720-5292 (toll free)

And

Director, Licencing Inspections and Investigations Branch, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services
Box 450
87 Sir William Hearst Avenue
North York, Ontario M3M 0B4

The Hearing Process

The Licence Appeal Tribunal has information that can help you to prepare for your hearing, including the Tribunal’s Rules of Practice and information sheets. For more information, visit the Tribunal’s website at: www.lat.gov.on.ca or call the Tribunal at 416-314-4260 (Toronto area) or 1-800-255-2214 (toll free).

Decision

Should a hearing be held, the Licence Appeal Tribunal may:

  • order the Director, Licencing Inspections and Investigations Branch, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (“the Director”) to make the proposed order; or
  • order the Director to refrain from making the proposed order; or
  • make an order of its own in substitution for that of the Director.

The Tribunal may attach such conditions to its order as it considers proper.

Consumer Beware List

If your business receives a Notice of Proposed Order and does not request a hearing or the order is upheld by the Tribunal, the order will be posted on the Consumer Beware List. The Consumer Beware List is a list of businesses that have either contravened Ontario’s consumer protection statutes or have failed to respond to our requests for a response to the substance of a consumer complaint. The Consumer Beware List can be searched by the members of the public.