The law

In Ontario, businesses may be inspected by the Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery under the Consumer Protection Act, 2002.

Inspectors follow guidelines under the Regulator’s Code of Practice that outlines how regulators carry out their duties. 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

Inspectors may attend your business to conduct an inspection to:

  • check for compliance with legal requirements (for example, requirements related to signage and contracts) or
  • ​follow up on a prior inspection where violations or problems were recorded

What to expect

Inspections may be conducted in-person or remotely. In either case, the inspector will identify themselves and provide proof of their authority to inspect your business.

The 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 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.

The inspector will collect information to evaluate whether the business is in compliance and make notes to record details of the inspection. An inspector may:

  • examine anything the inspector 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
  • 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 inspector will let you know what they have observed, explain the next steps you must take, and provide relevant education and supporting materials to help guide you in the future.

The inspector may also leave you with a Notice of Contravention. The Notice of Contravention outlines any violations observed at the time of the inspection and requires that you bring the items into compliance within a specific timeframe, usually 30 calendar 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 do not comply

If your business fails to comply – within the established timeframe – with a Notice of Contravention that was issued by an inspector, your business name and related information will be published on Ontario’s Consumer Beware List.

Find out more information about the Consumer Beware List.