Ontario’s ‘groundbreaking’ one-call legislation

For those of you who follow us on Twitter or Facebook, you’ve probably noticed we’ve been tweeting and posting a lot about #digsafe over the last couple of weeks. April is Safe Dig month, and we’ve been reminding Canadians to click or call before they dig because excavation by third parties is one of the most common causes of pipeline damage.

No matter what province you live in, it’s important to locate underground utilities before you start any project that disturbs ground. If you live in Ontario, “call before you dig” is the law. In 2012, Ontario passed groundbreaking legislation which requires contractors and homeowners to locate buried lines and pipes before they break ground (excuse the pun).

How does Ontario’s one-call law work?

The legislation makes it easier for Ontarians to locate buried infrastructure. Here’s how it works:

  1. All owners of buried infrastructure (hydro, gas, etc.) are required to register with Ontario One Call.
  2. Ontario residents are then required to contact Ontario One Call before they dig.

“For the person excavating, the guess work that goes along with the locate-request portion of the damage-prevention process has simply evaporated,” said Mike Sullivan, executive director with the Canadian Common Ground Alliance and president of Alberta One-Call. “The Ontario legislation requiring mandatory registration with Ontario One Call considerably elevates excavators’ level of confidence that all buried utilities in the vicinity of their work will be notified.”

How one call works in the rest of Canada:

Most provinces do have one-call services, and contacting that service by visiting clickbeforeyoudig.com should still be your first step.

“The rest of the provinces where this service is provided should be more appropriately referred to as ‘first call’ services because not every buried utility owner is required to register with the service,” explained Sullivan.

In Alberta and B.C., however, provincially-regulated pipelines are required to register with Alberta One-Call and BC One Call, respectively.

Your province’s one-call service can tell you if not all utilities are registered with their organization.

By locating lines before you dig, you will help to keep yourself, your community and the environment safe.

Why one call is a good model:

Sullivan pointed out that, when consistently applied, one-call procedures can reduce damage to underground infrastructure and enhance public safety.

“In terms of public safety and maintaining the integrity of Ontario’s critical buried infrastructure, legislation like Ontario’s just makes sense,” said Sullivan, who is advocating for similar legislation in Alberta.

Planning a construction or excavation project? Please visit: clickbeforeyoudig.com

Want more info on how to dig safe? Check out these posts:


The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 115,000 kilometres of pipelines in Canada. In 2012, these energy highways moved approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Our members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil from producing regions to markets throughout North America.