As of April 1, 2015, the Government of Ontario is appointing new inspectors to enforce requirements under the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 (CPA). According to a March 26th press release, the newly appointed inspectors will take a more preventative and targeted approach to enforcement.
The power to appoint these new inspectors comes from amendments to the CPA that came into force on April 1st. Inspectors appointed under the CPA have the power to enter any place, except for a dwelling, in order to perform an inspection to ensure compliance with the CPA. An inspector may only enter and inspect a place during the place’s regular business hours or during other reasonable times. Inspectors’ powers of inspection are quite broad, and include the ability to inspect any record, require any record to be produced, and question any person on matters that the inspector thinks may be relevant to the inspection. There is a general prohibition on obstruction of an inspection which provides, among other things, that no person shall refuse to answer questions on matters that an inspector thinks may be relevant to an inspection.
Prior to April 1st, there was no authority for the Government to conduct inspections; only investigations could be conducted with a warrant. Businesses operating in Ontario should take note of this development as an inspection could take place without warning.