Ontario One Call Bill Passes Second Reading

ForImmediate Release, April 21, 2011

MPP Bailey’s ‘Ontario One Call Act’

Passes Second Reading With All-Party Support

Queen’sPark— Sarnia-Lambton MPP BobBailey presented his private member’s bill dubbed the “Call BeforeYou Dig” Act to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for Second ReadingDebate this afternoon. Bill 180, entitled the‘Ontario One Call Act, 2011’, if passed, will establishOntario One Call Ltd. as a not-for-profit call centre, a single point-of-contactfor all underground utility location services in Ontario

Today, MPP Bailey’s legislationreceived all-party support during debate and passed unanimously through second reading.Originally presented to the Assembly on April 13, 2011 the next step on itslegislative journey will be an in-depth review in one of the Assembly’sstanding committees before receiving a final third vote.

TheOntario One Call Act would make safety a priority bystreamlining the current system; it would require all those operatingunderground infrastructure to participate in a single 24/7 call centre in theprovince to provide the ‘locates’ for underground infrastructure.

“I’mvery happy that the other parties have seen the value in this importantbill,” said Bailey, following the vote. “This bill isn’t justabout streamlining a confusing system to make it easier to dig in yourbackyard; it’s about preventing accidents and saving lives.”

Failing to locate all underground andoverhead utilities prior to construction has led to property damage totalingnearly $33 million each year. This imposes a significant loss of revenue, aswell as productivity and efficiency for businesses of all sizes.

Between 2008 and 2009, there were over2500 pipeline strikes in Ontario,two of which resulted in fatalities. Last autumn, a Niagara Falls landscaping company was fined$225,000 following a fatal explosion at the site of a residential home. Thecompany, after failing to locate the underground utilities, accidentallypunctured a propane line on the property. Tragically, a 58-year-old grandmotherof three, who was home at the time, died in the explosion.

The Ministry of Labour found that the landscapingcompany had made no effort at all to discover the location of undergroundutilities or have their ‘locates’ marked.  This graveoversight left the workers on site with no knowledge of what was beneath theground where they dug and resulted in the death of a Niagara Falls’ woman.

“One life is too many,” saidBailey. “We need to stop dragging our feet on this issue – its justcommon sense. We need a system where anyone, anywhere in Ontario can find out what infrastructureexists under their property. With the growing complexity of our undergroundutilities, a mandatory One Call system will save money, and lives.”

TheOntario One Call Act has the full support of many of Ontario’sconstruction and utility companies, as well as the current Ontario One Callagency – so far almost 40 municipalities, agencies and companies havewritten to our office expressing their support for Bill 180.

“A mandatory one-call system hasfour major benefits,” said Paul Rietdyk, vice president of distributionoperations for Union Gas. “Most importantly, it reduces risk and willsave lives, it’s more cost-effective than a voluntary system, itsbusiness friendly in that it will improve productivity for excavators and itworks effectively. For instance, in the U.S., mandatory one call systemshave been successfully implemented in all 50 jurisdictions – and in afour-year period damages have dropped by 70%.”

A video of today’s press conferenceand debate have been uploaded online and are located at bobbaileympp.com/video-releases.html

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