The province has opened over 150 investigations in the RMWB related to the rebuild and recovery of the region.
Right now, there are 67 active investigations related to home builders and renovation contractors, 76 related to the Residental Tenancies Act and 10 active investigations into other misrepresentations for goods or services.
That’s up from 129 investigations back in February.
Minister of Service Alberta Stephanie McLean tells Mix News there have been 22 charges in all, including five investigations that have led to charges under the Residental Tenancies Act and one has led to first ever charge under the Emergency Management Act in Alberta.
“The act itself deals with emergencies in the province and when we have a formally declared State of Emergency. The charge was for raising rent under an emergency,” said McLean.
McLean says three files and 16 charges have been resolved in court for the Residental Tenancies Act matters.
“One resulted in a $2000 fine, two others resulted in other fines and there was also restitution paid. One Director’s Order has been issued against a restoration company for misrepresenting affiliation with the Alberta Government. There are three criminal code investigations ongoing, so there’s a lot of activity.”
An investigator has been stationed in Fort McMurray working out of the Provincial Building downtown since re-entry. A second investigator has recently been brought into help with the cases.
McLean says as rebuild ramps up they expect to receive more complaints.
“Well because we are being proactive and informing folks, that would naturally increase the amount of complaints and inquiries that we receive, which overall is a good thing. We definitely want people to be informed and we want to be able to give them good proper information and deal with complaints right at the head and nip it in the butt if something comes up,” said McLean. “In not being proactive in other disasters was certainly a failure before. So we’re very proud of the proactive response and having folks on the ground there and high level of education and information so that when something does not meet the sniff test, folks will come forward and talk to the province and talk to the experts.”
McLean adds investigators will stay as long as the situation demands.
Meanwhile, the Minister says companies shouldn’t be afraid of them.
“A contractor might have the best of intentions and not be aware that they constitute a prepaid contractor. So when we do find those folks, we do our best to inform them of what’s going on and get them licensed and get them into good standing. Our first step is to do that.”
For more information on what to look out for before signing contracts, written estimates, and red flags visit servicealberta.ca. During normal business hours, people can also call the Consumer Protect Line at 1-877-427-4088.