As 2007 rolls along, parts of the country — Quebec in particular — draw closer to the enforcement of a government-regulated program that will change the way AC service is done in that province.
“The law provides for three areas of air conditioning, those being commercial refrigeration, automotive and wide goods like refrigerators and freezers,” says Daniel Champagne, a top bureaucrat with the minister responsible for the environment in Quebec.
The law which fundamentally dealt with ODS and hydrocarbon handling, initially passed in 2004 will become a more pointed issue as of June of ’07 when training was to be completed. The issue of training within the framework of the legislation has left many in the province scrambling for compliance.
“Everyone is a little panicked, but just about everyone is taking the training course, which is good to see,” says Stphane Carr, the owner of his own self-titled sales agency on Montreal’s South Shore.
However, unlike some passed examples of regulatory change, this particular raft of legal alterations seems to have been met with a willingness to adapt, if only to stay in business. “The new legislation is going to make it tough for garage owners to ignore the need for the right equipment, and the training. For the ones who don’t want to make the investment in the future of their business, well, this law might put some of those guys away,” Carr says.
Carr, was also able to comment at length on the success of the new program and what it has meant for the aftermarket as a broader industry.
“The new legislation is not so much focused on AC in particular, as it is concerned with the handling of the materials involved,” he says. “Basically, the law states that technicians have to take a training course in order to perform the maintenance required, which has a lot to do with the various gases involved in flushing a system and checking for leaks.”
Similar to the effects of federal emissions testing regulations, the new Quebec law should provide service providers with an increase in business, as the testing is required at five-year intervals. What the law specifies though, is that techs have to be certified to administer these tests, something that Carr says has been positively received.
“A surprising number of technicians have signed up to take the course,” he adds. “In fact, one jobber I know has put on approximately 75 sessions. I don’t know how many shops will invest in the right tools for the job, but at least a lot of technicians are taking the course,” he says.
According to Daniel Champagne, the course is not simply focused on hands on repair, but also takes into account other educational opportunities.
“Firstly, people taking the course have to be certified mechanics or body shop specialists,” says Champagne. “Through the course they receive information on the environmental impact and issues surrounding these chemicals, issues in terms of the legislation itself, as well as learn some ‘best practices’ that they can take back to their businesses.”
In the end, technicians have certainly had plenty of time to get up to speed on both the new procedures and get qualified to administer them. By all accounts, registrations in the offered courses has been strong, and come June, the hope is that AC service in the province of Quebec will continue along as smoothly as it has in the past, albeit with a more environmentally conscientious group of professionals
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