What we heard: Consultation on device inspections in remote locations

About Measurement Canada

We ensure equity and accuracy where goods and services are bought and sold on the basis of measurement in Canada. We are active across Canada, from major metropolitan areas to the most remote locations in the country. This contributes to a fair and competitive marketplace for all Canadians, regardless of where in Canada they reside.

About the consultation

Between July 16 and August 7, 2020, we reached out to 7,870 businesses operating in remote locations that use scales, gas pumps and other measuring devices to sell products based on measurement, as well as authorized service providers (ASPs) who inspect and certify these devices. We invited businesses meeting all of the following criteria to participate in the consultation:

  • Businesses in remote locations or with postal codes defined as rural by Canada Post
  • Businesses operating in one or more of the eight trade sectors with mandatory device recertification frequencies (retail food, retail petroleum, forestry, mining, dairy, fishing, wholesale petroleum, and grain and field crops sectors)
  • Businesses with measuring devices that we previously inspected

The purpose of the consultation was to gather specific information about device owners and ASPs in remote locations as it relates to complying with our existing program requirements.

Consultation results

Of the 7,870 businesses that we reached out to, 1,729 businesses (22%) responded to the consultation questions we sent to them by email. Of those that responded, 908 (53%) indicated that they met our definition of a remote location.

Of the respondents operating businesses in remote locations, 89% indicated that they are in compliance with the government requirement to have their measuring devices recertified. The vast majority of respondents indicated that they operated businesses in the retail petroleum and retail food sectors. Many respondents also noted that they have multiple measuring devices such as gas pumps and retail food scales that they operate simultaneously, as their businesses are often multi-faceted due to their remote location.

Respondents also addressed questions of frequency in their responses, with 389 (44%) of respondents in remote locations reporting that they use their scale, gas pump or other measuring device less than 25 times per day, with 311 (35%) indicating that they have no competitors in the area. This highlights two main factors regarding businesses in remote locations and trade measurement in Canada. First, the data appears to show a low number of daily transactions, which may suggest that recertification requirements for measuring devices have a greater impact on operating costs for these remote businesses. Second, the data appears to show how crucial these businesses are to their communities, where there is often no other place to purchase essentials such as food and gasoline.

Due to the remote location of many respondents, a significant number (74%) reported facing difficulties obtaining qualified ASPs to inspect and recertify their measurement devices. A total of 29% of respondents stated that cost was the biggest barrier in obtaining service. It is much more expensive to obtain service in remote regions where our inspectors are not available, and ASP inspections are more expensive due to the difficulties in reaching the inspection sites. A further 32% of respondents reported a lack of access to ASPs altogether, due to their unwillingness or unavailability to travel to the location, or due to another obstacle.

A total of 158 ASPs responded to this consultation, with 130 reporting that they conduct less than 25% of their business in remote locations. Additionally, 16% of ASPs indicated that they had refused or were unable to perform work in remote locations. Although this is a small sample size compared to the total number of ASPs operating in Canada, these results are consistent with what businesses in remote locations reported about a lack of access to ASPs due to their location. ASPs indicated that scheduling, cost, weather and the transportation of equipment were the main challenges they faced in providing service to remote locations. A total of 50% of ASPs indicated that they would like further cooperation from both businesses in remote locations and us in order to facilitate inspections.

Next steps

Over the coming months, we will continue to analyze the data and responses collected in order to identify trends and come up with solutions to measurement and recertification issues faced by businesses in remote locations. We are committed to:

  • studying the relationship between recertification challenges and specific types of measuring devices or postal codes
  • obtaining further information on the costs of measuring device recertifications, especially cost as a function of the frequency of measuring device use

We are also committed to improving our education and compliance promotion efforts by:

  • further analyzing the responses of ASPs to the consultation and comparing them to the responses of businesses to identify commonalities and differences
  • seeking ways of contacting remote businesses that are not in our inspection result database or that do not have an email address
  • striving to better define and explain the term "remote location"
  • developing a risk assessment framework