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Ontario looks to boost elevator availability

Ontario looks to boost elevator availability

In July 2016 we wrote our first Blog entry on the deplorable state of elevator repair in Ontario.  Since then there has been some progress. Most notably, Ontario is looking to boost elevator availability in multi-storey residential buildings.  The provincial government plans to establish a data-based standard for the time it takes to turn around elevator repairs.

This measure forms part of an action plan that comes in response to a study commissioned by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA).  The TSSA, in partnership with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs (MMA), engaged retired Superior Court Justice Douglas Cunningham to author an independent study, with support from Deloitte’s Public Sector Strategy team. The study lead Justice J. Douglas Cunningham found that the current state of elevator availability is far short of ideal. He made 19 recommendations for improving the status quo, including looking into requiring more frequent upkeep for high-risk devices and stepping up the enforcement of existing maintenance standards with new fines.

Our condominium residents face elevator outages through no fault of theirs, their board of directors or their condominium manager.  The aging stock of existing elevators, the rapid growth in construction of high-rise condominiums, and the shortage of trained service technicians, among other causes, has resulted in elevators being out of service for days and even weeks at a time.   When residents cannot reach their homes and first-responders cannot reach residents, we have a problem that requires urgent and determined action!

Over the past few years, stakeholders across Ontario, including Crossbridge Condominium Services, have raised a variety of issues related to elevator availability, including:

• Public and worker safety

• Accessibility for users, access to homes, and access for emergency responders

• Cost and speed of maintenance

• Slow repair times and long elevator outages

• Owner and user knowledge of elevators as a key asset

• Entrapment and emergency response processes

• Labour supply of elevator mechanics

• Fair and open markets for contractors

• Impact of regulation of the elevator industry


The 19 recommendations in the Elevator Availability Study are:


  1. Define availability as “the ability of a building’s elevating devices to transport persons as and when required”, as measured by the handling capacity and uptime of a building’s system of devices.
  2. Conduct greater exploration of the links between safety and availability (including accessibility) and the implications across stakeholders.
  3. Assess whether TSSA, as opposed to other options, should be responsible for the management of Elevator “Availability” in addition to its current safety mandate.
  4. Require contracting companies to report data on all downtime. This metric will cover all outages from safety-related matters to regular scheduled maintenance.
  5. Assess options to enhance MCP effectiveness to ensure that devices are adequately and proactively maintained and that compliance is met, including restoring monthly maintenance for those devices with low availability or high risk, exploring the use of administrative monetary penalties (AMPs), or employing the full set of enforcement tools currently available to the TSSA including license revocation for contractors. For all options, seek to modernize regulations to better reflect the appropriate responsibilities of all stakeholders without losing the collaboration needed.
  6. Provide education and awareness services for owners on effective preventative maintenance, “end of device lifecycle” and other capital planning, and related topics.
  7. Require contractors to report outages over 48 hours or when 50% of the elevators are out of service, with a defined action plan to restore service. The action plan should include clearly defined owner / contractor responsibilities. Note that this replaces the 7/14 day repair timeline recommendation from Bill 109.
  8. Establish a consistent protocol for communication and accountability in case of entrapments, including emergency notification and communication between the owner, contractor, and first responders.
  9. Review options to enhance the efficacy of the Elevating Devices Advisory Council in providing a forum for industry consultation, input and advice.
  10. Develop an annual industry satisfaction survey to help identify opportunities for greater communication and collaboration with industry.
  11. Develop education and awareness services for owners on topics including contract terms, elevator regulation, consultant services, etc., delivered through a combination of government, broader public sector organizations, building associations, or college courses.
  12. Explore opportunities for greater disclosure of information to existing and potential building users about elevator maintenance / disruption, status of repairs, etc.
  13. Establish a public database of elevator uptime by address, with data voluntarily disclosed by contractors.
  14. Encourage proactive “end of life” policies that build parts, maintenance needs, and cost of modernization into capital planning through targeted education, training, and resources.
  15. Work with a recognized standards organization (e.g., CSA Group, UL Canada) and qualified persons to develop an industry standard that new residential buildings above a certain height and / or number of units contain a minimum number of elevators. The standard would be referenced in Ontario’s Building Code.
  16. Work with a recognized standards organization (e.g., CSA Group, UL Canada) and qualified persons to develop an industry standard for conducting elevator traffic analyses, to be referenced in Ontario’s Building Code.
  17. Amend the TSS Act regulations to include a “sunset clause” for EDM-T certification, requiring EDM-T’s to pursue further training within a given time frame.
  18. Revise the Ontario Fire Code to require owners to notify the fire department, occupants and supervisory staff when a firefighter elevator is not operating for more than 24 hours.
  19. Train all first responders to use a universal key in emergency situations


You can read more about elevator availability in Ontario at:


Crossbridge is committed to ensuring the communities we manage are maintained to the highest standard for the safety, comfort and convenience of residents.