(Complaints regarding spraybooths operating with no Certificate of Approval or mobile spray applicators should be forwarded to 1-866-MOE-TIPS)

(Now known as The Sector Compliance Branch)


The Ministry of Environment and Energy has ordered 98 autobody shops and auto repair garages to take immediate corrective action to comply with Ontario’s environmental laws. The ministry’s actions result from an inspection sweep by the Environmental SWAT Team, which to date has targeted 116 autobody shops and auto repair garages in the Greater Toronto Area, Halton-Peel, North Bay, Ottawa, Peterborough, Sudbury and York-Durham.

“Autobody shops and auto repair garages must understand their legislative responsibilities and achieve 100 per cent compliance with our environmental laws,” said Environment and Energy Minister Chris Stockwell. “Our Environmental SWAT Team will continue to target this sector and highlight the environmental improvements that this industry has to make.”

During the inspections, the team found problems that included improper record keeping, improper operation of equipment and in some instances potential illegal disposal of waste. As a result, the officers issued 104 Provincial Officer Orders and 12 tickets/summonses under the Provincial Offences Act, and referred a number of cases to the ministry’s Investigations and Enforcement Branch for further review.

“As an association that represents over 300 collision repair and auto refinish shops and garages, we are working closely with the ministry to develop programs to help our members improve their environmental compliance,” said John Norris, Executive Director of the Hamilton District Autobody Repair Association. “We recognize that the information collected by SWAT helps reveal recurring environmental problems and helps us better understand how we, as an association, can help shops.”

The Environmental SWAT Team was formed in the fall of 2000 as part of this government’s commitment to protecting the environment. To date, the team has completed more than 1,200 inspections in a variety of sectors.

(for assistance in completing the Certificate of Approval application please call the the office at 1-866-309-4272 or e-mail at info@autobodyhelp.ca The industry trade association has entered into a Pilot Compliance Assistance Program with the province of Ontario)



The Environmental SWAT Team recently inspected 116 autobody shops and auto repair garages in the following areas: Greater Toronto Area, Halton-Peel, North Bay, Ottawa, Peterborough, Sudbury and York-Durham.

During inspections of each facility, the team's inspectors typically:

* ensure the company is complying with its Certificate of Approval;
* inspect air emission sources (for example, paint spray booths and welding stations);
* assess how the facility conducts its operations;
* inspect management (registration, handling and disposal) of wastes generated on site (for example, waste generated from retail motor vehicle servicing facilities—waste oil, oily rags, oil filters and antifreeze); and,
* inspect the handling and disposal of refrigerants.

The team began its inspection sweep of the facilities in February 2002 and continues to inspect this sector across the province.

Non-compliance among autobody shops and auto repair garages

The Environmental SWAT Team found numerous infractions, including:

* failure to have a Certificate of Approval for air emissions;
* no written agreement with certified waste haulers;
* holes in air filters, filters laden with paint waste or no filters;
* operating refrigerant equipment without certification (Ozone Depletion Prevention Cards).

The majority of infractions were administrative in nature (for example, poor record keeping and no written agreements with certified waste haulers). There were also several facilities that had potentially significant environmental issues, and immediate action was ordered. Their files were forwarded to the ministry's Investigations and Enforcement Branch for further review.

As a result of the inspections, the officers issued 12 Provincial Offences Act tickets/summonses, which carry a maximum fine of $500. They also issued 104 Provincial Officer Orders to 98 of the companies (6 companies received 2 orders each), requiring the companies to take corrective action within a specified time frame to comply with Ontario's environmental laws. While the orders issued do not carry a monetary fine, they do often require a major investment of both time and money to achieve compliance. Failure to comply with an order can be a serious offence, which can result in follow up by the ministry's Investigations and Enforcement Branch and possible prosecution. A company convicted of its first major offence can be fined up to $6 million per day. Individuals can be fined $4 million per day and face jail terms of five years less a day.

About autobody shops and auto repair garages

Autobody shops primarily undertake repairs to vehicle exteriors, while auto repair facilities focus on mechanical work. There are also facilities that conduct both operations. All of these facilities require Certificates of Approval from the ministry in order to operate. The certificates are essential documents that outline and guide the operations of the facilities to ensure compliance with environmental objectives.

The facilities are required to keep proper records (for example, of air conditioning repairs, of paint spray booth maintenance and of agreements with waste haulers), properly maintain their equipment, regularly change air filters and dispose of wastes appropriately.

About the Environmental SWAT Team

The Environmental SWAT Team is dedicated to ensuring compliance with Ontario's environmental laws through tough, effective and fair enforcement. Working in partnership with the ministry's district offices, the team targets specific sectors of concern—those that have high non-compliance rates and/or may have significant impacts on public health and the environment. This strong enforcement presence helps provide a higher level of environmental protection for the people of Ontario and helps level the playing field for Ontario businesses so that those who defy environmental laws do not benefit at the expense of those who comply.

.As promised in the 1999 Throne Speech, the Environmental SWAT Team was formed in September 2000. On May 2, 2001, the team was made a permanent unit within the ministry. The Environmental SWAT Team:

is made up of inspectors, investigators, legal staff, program analysts, scientists, engineers, laboratory technicians and other support staff;
is designed to complement existing district inspection programs with strategic inspections that target specific pollution sources;
conducts sector-based inspection programs throughout Ontario, based on the locations of the companies/sources.
Since fall 2000, the unit has completed more than 1,200 inspections in a variety of sectors: pesticide applicators; septic waste haulers; hazardous, liquid industrial and solid waste haulers; electro/metal platers; hazardous waste transfer and processing facilities; recycling in the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors; and autobody shops and auto repair garages.