The Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario was founded in 1948 to serve and represent the interests of the electrical contracting industry. Over its history, ECAO has been committed to addressing the needs of the industry by providing a variety of services directly to the membership, and by making representations on behalf of the entire industry to government and industry colleagues. Its success has been due to the support and active participation of the industry.


To create a community of electrical and communications contractors that band together for support and advancement of the electrical/communications industry in Labour, Government and Public Relations.

The ECAO membership consists of bona fide electrical contractors with a contractual relationship with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Contractors that qualify may have their dues paid through an area Electrical Contractors Association (ECA). There are presently 11 Area ECA's which are affiliated with ECAO. Industry product and service suppliers may join as Affiliate Partners and are listed on the Affiliate Partners Directory. Information on membership in ECAO can be found on the Membership page of this website.


To differentiate ECAO contractors and their IBEW partners across Ontario as being industry leaders in delivering safe, stable, predictable, high-quality electrical/communications construction and maintenance services.

What We Do

Government Relations

ECAO advocates the interests of electrical contractors to government through the following groups:


Council of Ontario Construction Associations

Provincial Advisory Committee for the Construction and Maintenance Electrician

Electrical Contractor Registration Agency (ECRA) for Master Electrician and Electrical Contractor Licensing.


ECAO is a founding member of the Council of Ontario Construction Associations (COCA) formed to act as a lobby group on behalf of the entire construction industry to the provincial government. On issues such as workers' compensation and occupational health and safety, ECAO actively works through COCA to represent the interests of electrical contractors.

Throughout its history, ECAO has been involved in the certification of electricians and licensing of contractors. Since the introduction of the Apprenticeship and Tradesmen Qualification Act in 1965, ECAO has represented management on the Provincial Advisory Committee, which advises the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU).

Through the Electrical Contractor Registration Agency, ECAO is a strong advocate of the licensing of electrical contractors on the basis of passing a master electrician examination. ECRA, now an agency of the Electrical Safety Authority, licenses master electricians and electrical contractors. It also creates the master electrician examination.

Labour Relations

The responsibility for all labour relations matters rests exclusively with the Electrical Trade Bargaining Agency (ETBA). The ETBA represents and acts as the legal representative of the ECAO in all matters relevant to labour negotiations in the Province of Ontario with those Construction Unions of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers that are chartered to represent Electricians, Linemen, Network Cabling Specialists or Communication Cable Installers (the “IBEW Construction Unions”). The ETBA is comprised of volunteer representatives from each area ECA, the ECA Line, and ECAO’s Communications (Green Pages) committee.


Provincial Bargaining Overview

The government introduced legislation in 1977 to provide for province-wide bargaining in the industrial, commercial, and institutional ("ICI") sector of the construction industry. The legislation called for an employee bargaining agency to be established for groups of bargaining agents affiliated to the same trade union (in this case the IBEW CCO). And, for each employee bargaining agency, there needed to be established a matching employer bargaining agency (in this case the ECAO, which is also referred-to as the Employer Trade Bargaining Agent or ETBA).


From the time of the first negotiations following legislative change until 1990, the IBEW CCO and ECAO negotiating history was as follows:


  • - 1978, the first round of bargaining by the designated ICI Bargaining Agents, the ETBA and the IBEW settled for two (2) years on a differential basis without a strike.
  • - 1980 round of bargaining also was resolved without a strike.
  • - 1982 round of bargaining saw negotiations break down when the IBEW CCO went on strike; a strike that lasted approximately one (1) week.
  • - 1984 the parties settled without a strike.
  • - 1986 saw another strike, this time it lasted approximately two and a half (2 1/2) weeks.
  • - 1988 was also a strike. The strike lasted for roughly three (3) weeks.

- 1990 saw the third (3rd) consecutive strike, and it lasted approximately eight (8) weeks.  In fact, this strike required Minister of Labour intervention for resolution.


As a result of the above-referenced bargaining history, and the recognition of the detrimental effects of the way the collective agreement was being negotiated, the ETBA and IBEW CCO committed to design a new system, which became known as the Joint Proposal. The Joint Proposal has been negotiated prior to collective bargaining since 1992.


For more information on the history of provincial bargaining, please read this article.


For more information on the history of ETBA/IBEW bargaining, please read these articles: 

Part 1

Part 2

Member Services

ECAO makes available a variety of products and services, including courses, publications and access to group purchase plans (to its members only). For more information about these member services, contact ECAO or consult the Member Services section of the ECAO website.


Industry Relations

In order to pursue the interests of electrical contractors with industry colleagues, ECAO is an official chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).

  • Focus on Member Needs
  • Integrity and Respect
  • Alliances and Partnerships
  • Positive Change Agent
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity and Belonging