The Ontario government says it plans to wind down the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) as it sets apprenticeship to journeymen ratios at 1-1 across all trades and implements a moratorium on trade classifications and reclassifications.
“There have been persistent challenges in how the skilled trades in Ontario are regulated, the amount of (OCOT) membership fees that apprenticeships and journeypersons are subject to, and the complexity of the rules apprentices, journeypersons and employers are bound by,” the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities said in a statement, co-ordinated with Conservative premier Doug Ford’s office.
“Apprenticeship in Ontario needs to be modernized and transformed to better meet the needs of apprentices, employers and industry,” the statement said. “As part of the government’s commitment to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens, and to modernize apprenticeship in Ontario, the government is proposing to wind down the OCOT.
“If passed, the government intends to support an orderly transition and ensure continuity of services to employers, workers and apprentices. The minister (Merilee Fullerton) would have special powers in legislation, including the authority to take charge and control over the college’s board of governors and to appoint an administrator to act on her behalf.
“The government intends to develop a replacement model for the regulation of the skilled trades and apprenticeship system in Ontario by early 2019.
“The Ministry of Labour will continue to enforce the Occupational Health and Safety Act to ensure worker safety.”
The government says the current apprenticeship to journeyman ratios are among the highest in Canada, often at one apprentice for each three journeypersons. “For trades that are subject to ratios, the change to a one-to-one journeyperson to apprentice ratio would simplify and streamline how employers can hire and oversee apprentices, reduce costs and provide more flexibility for employers. Setting a single, lower ratio would better align Ontario with other provinces and territories in Canada,” the statement says.
The government also said it plans to place a moratorium on trade classifications and reclassifications.
“There are currently 133 voluntary and 23 compulsory trades in Ontario. Anyone practicing a compulsory trade must have a Certificate of Qualification or be registered as an apprentice or journeyperson candidate and must be a member in good standing of the OCOT, unless they are exempt under the legislation,” the government statement says.
“Trade classification and re-classification in Ontario is currently overly burdensome and can affect decisions to hire new staff, as well as companies’ ability to compete in the global marketplace. The moratorium would mitigate the risks of increasing regulatory burden and costs for businesses.”
A spokesman for Merit Ontario, which advocates for open shop construction, expressed satisfaction with the government announcement.
“Reducing the ratio system to 1:1 will allow our member companies to immediately hire additional apprentices,” said Michael Gallalrdo, Merit Ontario’s executive director. “A lack fo workers is the number one issues facing my members and this policy change will significantly help them find and train those workers.”
“The OCOT was created to try to address Ontario’s skilled labour challenges, but the province remains one of the most restrictive int he country when it comes to journeymen-to-apprentice ratios,” he said in a statement. “Therefore, we are pleased to see that the Ford government intends to introduce legislation to abolish the College of Trades.”