Magazine for professional home renovators.

Ontario College of Trades will protect legitimate contractors, chairperson asserts

The fledgling Ontario College of Trades, under attack from a vocal coalition of construction firms as nothing but a “$84 million tax,” will in fact provide plenty of benefits to the 500,000 skilled trades who will soon come under its self-governing umbrella, argues Ron Johnson, chair of the college’s board of governors. In this video interview with Canadian Contractor, Johnson says that, among other benefits, the college will help protect legitimate skilled trades people from under-the-table, unlicensed and unqualified competitors. Hook-and-ladder, general renovation contractors will not be required to join the college, he says. But they may choose to do so voluntarily, Johnson adds. Electricians and sheet metal workers are among the 22 mandatory trades categories who must join. When the college is officially up and running on Jan. 1, fees for apprentices are expected to range from $50 to $100; journeypersons from $100 to $200.

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Steve Payne is the editor of Canadian Contractor magazine
45 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. What is a Hook-and-ladder general renovation contractors?

  2. Steve Payne

    “Hook and ladder” is the way a lot of home-based reno contractors talk about themselves. (At least, in Ontario. I’m interested to hear if this term is confusing to contractors elsewhere in Canada. If so, apologies.) In general, Ron Johnson’s point was that general renovation contractors will not be specifically required to join the Ontario College of Trades, but that specific subtrades, like electrician and sheet metal worker, etc, will be required to join.

  3. Just another way for the construction trade unions to control who works and for whom. An entire organization dedicated to the unionization of the entire construction industry in Ontario
    What are they going to do if the trades refuse to register with the college? Revoke the C of Q?
    How are we going to be protected from unlicensed unqualified operators by the college of trades? By adding more cost and burdens?

    • Despite claims to the contrary. Unions will have control of the College,removing the individual rights of the Trade person at his own expense. This is a sad state of affairs when intelligent people are deceived by a hidden agenda.
      Yell now before even that right is taken away.

    • exactly. I went through school for electrical trades and was so disheartened at trying to find work. They control all of it and that can jack up the prices. What a joke.

  4. Another tax grab. Period. Who is this Ontario College of Trades? The only ones they are protecting is their own lively hood. How much are these people being paid? Just another bureaucratic interference.
    My suggestion. Eliminate the Ontario College of Trades.

  5. I’d like to know exactly what these “22 manditory trades” are.
    It seems to me that 22 trades should cover just about everyone on a typical job site. That should effectively tie up the hands of most home renovators, and handyman/ repair type contractors (and put us out of a job)!

    • sorry but the idea is not to tie your hands, but to ensure a licenced tradeperson is working on the jobs that require a licence. therfor the works not being done by handy men\reno contractors (ie nonlicenced workers working on jobs tradesmen worked HARD to get thier licences in)

      • Excuse me I’m an electrician with all kinds of certificates. This is just a money grab and forces everyone to use a company with one masters and 2 electrician and 2 or more apprentices.

  6. The issue of unlicensed HVAC & refrigeration mechanics has been a growing problem for our industry & consumer. Over the last 30 years, primarily resulting from the increased demand for home central air, our industry has been inundated by all imaginable forms of “fly by night” contractors. Bad enough for the residential consumer, but no, they have moved into the commercial & industrial market sector & now even claim legitimacy. Why not, there are no consequences, just profits.
    Seems the current acceptable pinnacle of knowledge is the TSSA G2 license.
    This is clearly insufficient from every perspective, yet there are companies operating with one G2 employee & the rest are nothing more than cheap labour, usually charged out at a Journeyman’s rate.
    I regularly interview applicants and shudder at what they tell me goes on with their present employer. Just at a time when our industry is trying to bring young people into this trade, largely we are merely supplying cheap labour for unethical contractors. I have been on the PAC and on the board of a major industry association. The issue of enforcement was the main issue, supported by union and non union participants. After great efforts by all concerned, it went nowhere.
    Ten years on and it still has gone nowhere, it is even worse now.
    Our industry needs to be fixed, I hope the Ontario College of Trades provides that opportunity.

  7. Its the “hook and ladder” generation that needs to be shut down. It seems that anyone with a step ladder and a family van is out there doing renovations with absolutely zero qualifications . These people tell their clients that they can do the whole job, plumbing, electrical and carpentry, when in fact . they are not qualified to do anything. Its done under the table, with no permits taken and for cash money. no taxes charged and no insurance and no workers compensation for their employees or guarantee on the work performed. I am surprised that people would hire such so called contractors but the powers that be seem to turn a blind eye to it.

  8. I think this college is just a money grab. People who have done the schooling and earned the C of Q, are now having to pay for this college. No one has asked me if I wanted to. I’m being told I now have to pay for these up and coming trades people.

    • Certainly my licensing fees have increased from being $60 for 3 years to $120 a year! I wish I could raise my hourly rates like that. It remains to be seen how well the College will regulate the trades. How large will the fines be for persons who are doing electrical or plumbing without a valid license? Will the college have enough resources to police the industries? There are now so many individuals like handymen who do everything from A to Z. How ill they stop these people from doing skilled trades jobs without a valid license? Hopefully, the fines will be quite steep. I would like to see fines starting at $1000.00 and go up. That would scare away most handymen and others from doing those jobs that are regulated. Certainly the licensing fees are incredibly huge! But why are hairstylists included?

  9. The whole idea of this trade council….is control….socialism at its best……there is 22 manditory trades…..Taxed $100 to $200 a year….a giant tax to say the least…..now the real reason for this….we will end up like Greece…….every job will be a trade…Barmaid…Bartender..Pencil Sharpener….Finger Nail Painter…..Sweeper….It is the begining of a big government nightmare….this is European style….and the majority of the nations are bankrupt that have this type of government…..this should be throwen in the garbage were it belongs….more government control we don’t need…..it will help no one except the unions….////

  10. I am not against the concept of the OCOT, what I am against is the cost, in particular the cost to apprentices. In any of the other “Professional Colleges”, personnel “under training” do not pay fees. Unless you pass the Bar, receive your MD or DC, PEng, etc you do not pay fees. Not sure why apprentices should.

    From my point, my fees have gone from ~$68 every three years to $120 a year for me, $60 a year for each apprentice and $120 a year for my company. If somebody can tell me how that increase in cost is going to benefit my clients, make electrical work safer, eliminate the “trunk slammers”, etc I am listening. Who is going to pay this costs… we know the client. On top of that I still need to pay for Master Electrician fees and Electrical Contractor fees to ESA.

    I do like the idea that poor performing contractors / tradesmen can be held accountable. What I don’t see is an enforcement option / plan. In my case, as an electrical contractor we already have enforcement from the ESA. We are also subject to the Labour Code and various Health and Safety Legislations. If the OCT is only going to be reactionary, then the only people that will be reported are either based from existing government inspections (Ministry of Labour, building inspectors, etc) or from the TSSA or the ESA. If that is the case that puts an unfair advantage to the trades that are not subject to regular inspections such as… Auto Body Repair, Hairstylist, etc…

    For those that were asking, here is the list of the 22 compulsory trades http://www.collegeoftrades.ca/trades/compulsory-trades.

    Cheers

    John Kuehnl-Cadwell
    Master Electrician
    Datawise Solutions Inc

  11. John, I’m in agreement. Electrical Contractors do not NEED the protection from unlicensed contractors that this College states will be one of their services! ESA does exactly that, and we have the fee’s to prove it!
    I wonder if any EC’s have lodged complaints about being umbrellaed, under this ridiculous “college”/tax grab, to ESA? For money, they are offering nothing. In the rest of life, that’s called a “scam”!

  12. it’s just another tax
    I do not think they have ever made a trades person $1
    If our inspectors did their job it would really help out
    in 20 years I have never heard of anyone getting a fine for working without proper qualifications in my trade
    it easy to find the handy man but no one seems to be looking

  13. …This is an aesy way to make money from skilled people to feed all these army of burocrats and incompetent people who seat there at OTC. Of course, they need to grab money from somebody else and they find out US!!

  14. cash grab…plain and simple….bureaucratic mumble jumble disguised as do gooders for the sake of the tradesman!!!!! do your jobs and stop ripping off the people that have worked hard and sacrificed for their C of Q’s ..OCOT knows that the cost is going to trickle down to the consumer who is already paying a premium for the skill of the tradesperson….hmmm..Penalize the honest guy and let the bad guys run free….sounds like another great idea hatched once before…(gun legislation)

  15. I agree, It,s just one more tax grab. There is no benefits, protection for skill trades and no strategic to clean up market. I am Electrical Contractor. I pay to ESA (Master Electrician Licence, Electrical Contractor), WSIB, Business Liabilities Insurance………… and now i have to pay to Ontario College. They gonna put to much weight. It is ridiculously. Too many control and enforce companies.
    It is looks like street workers where is one apprentice dig and three guys ( WSIB, Supervisor, Minister of labor or Union) stay around him and control how this guy make money for them.
    But non of this companies offer more jobs, increase salary or medical benefits…….. They tell slogan ” Protect Public”. Who protect trades from public when they cheat us.
    Bloodsuckers

    This enforce method will only scary young people.
    They need to create something high demand that young people wish to become CQ and proficient trades.

  16. In my opinion, government does not promote skill trades. They just create hard time and more undertable market. They can not and not want to control grey market because they do not have money. It is more easy to impose another tax to skill trades.
    To survive, I guess “easy way” to close all of the license and go to work as no licensed Electrician. I have clients and they know how I do my job. But right now, it is important to do the work for less in order to survive. All customers try to survive too. No one can force them pay more money.

  17. Is it a tax grab?? I’m not sure? I have no problem paying for fees or dues if they are going to get me something??? Protection? how do they intend to do that??? The amount of man power to police this would be huge!!! Where is the money comming from to pay for this??? I have no problem with the government enforcing skilled trades and qualified persons to do the job. The problem is that skilled/quallifed persons are usually supporting a family and paying bills. Hard to go back to school and get your trade qualification if you have no money. Maybe the Govt should come up with some compensation / incentive packages for for cases like this. This is sounding like the WSIB legislation that has taken effect in ontario as of Jan 1st where as a licenced contractor running a business and I work as a sub contractor to another contractor I have to pay a fee for myself based on how much I make. The accounting of this makes me want to pack up and shut down. I feel that legislation like this is forcing small business owners to go under ground. Who wins ???

  18. Thank you for putting another layer of government between me and customers. I have been a licensed plumber with an Ontario C of Q since 1992. The college states it wants to protect me, I think I need protection from the College, I don’t need nor do I want your help. Find another way to make a living like picking up a tool and actually using like we do, instead of trying to control more of our good citizens. More governance is less for us all.
    R. Simpson

  19. I am electrical contractor. My son has seen the stress and distress this has caused in our household and chosen to follow a different career path. I’m telling every young person to run to another career because this one has become way too stressful

  20. I agree with a lot of the above comments, I have been in the trades as a sheet metal worker since 1996. I have run in to a growing amount of people with their G2 gas licence and 6hr ECO course, who think they can install a whole residential air handeling system. I guess it would have been easier to just get my gas licence! This is mostly do to lack of enforcement, and consumer knowledge. I’m sure most people don’t know what a Sheet Metal worker does, let alone that they are the only qualified trade allowed to install and repair any type of air handling / exhaust system! I would like to see better enforcement and stiff fines to those conducting work outside there scope of work! This will also intern creat work for those authorised to do it!! I best mention they are I fringing on the work of HVAC/ Refridgeration mechanics also!

  21. I served an apprenticeship and wrote an Interprovincial exam to get my electrician’s license twenty years ago. Three years ago I wrote and received my Master Electrician license. My family has produced three generations of qualified tradespeople (one of them female).

    All of this has been done without some faux college’s approval or oversight.

    I do not recognize the authority of this appointed (and, oh yes, very political) body to “regulate” or “discipline” myself or any other tradesperson. I do not believe this body is going to protect me or my trade from “hacks”, “crooks” or any other bogeymen. In fact, I strongly believe many said “hacks” and “crooks” are, and will continue to be, in positions of authority,

    I strongly believe that this organization will be used as a political tool to attack tradespeople who stand up for themselves on the job. In many cases we are in little control over our jobs and are alienated from our work due to unscrupulous employers or the practices of “consumers”.

    Poorly organized job sites, beat up, worn out equipment, cheap, shoddy materials, arbitrary and stupid decisions borne out of the profit motive, “consumer” tampering, are all challenges that continue to plague the trades. Now we’re being told that “any person” can complain to this soylent green organization about our conduct when, more and more, our ability to apply our trade properly without interference is being compromised. I guarantee that many tradespeople will be standing in front of this board answering for something some employer (represented on said body) or “consumer” is responsible for or has made up in retaliation for resisting some ridiculous, dangerous, or illegal demand/practice.

    How will the “college” address the above? How will it stop un-qualified people from doing the work of skilled tradespeople? (a practice that is consumer driven) How will it “protect” tradespeople?

    It won’t.

    Beside the above, I believe this body is an effort to rein in the freedom tradespeople have had to move out of the stagnant, depressed, backward jurisdiction that is the Ontario work environment. In many cases, a journeymen’s wages have not gone up in this province in twenty years. In many more cases it has gone down. This sad state of affairs is not even mentioned in the organization’s correspondence with tradespeople or in it’s mandate. All we get is “we’re gonna protect the consumer”, “we’re gonna discipline you”, ” and you’re gonna pay for it.”

    They can go to hell.

    I know I’m not alone with this attitude.

    Young folks I have spoken to express no interest in the trade(s) in Ontario because the work is hard, the pay is lousy and the non-sense on the job they hear about is repellent. Nothing this hive of appointees is crowing about is going to change that. It’s going to make it worse.

    Further to the above, having information about tradespeople available to the public (members of which may or may not have axes to grind or vendettas to pursue) is, in my view, a violation of our human rights—such as they are— and our privacy. I don’t care if “doctors and nurses etc.” have “the same” sort of body to answer to. Regardless, I don’t play with people’s entrails and feces and don’t want to.And I am not interested in some “professional” designation that does not entail a real material gain.

    I see the creation of this organization as a personal attack and as an attack on the tradespeople it claims the fiat to supervise.

    • Well said I completely agree the OCOT and the Liberal Party is full of the dumbest unionized Political Boobs this world has ever Seen.
      I won’t pay and thus they tell me my ten year old business will be black listed and eventually forced to close.
      My vans are being de-lettered and I will work for cash and pump gas outside this Communist Province…
      To hell with Ontario I am moving away…

  22. Way to go Maginty

    Another huge tax grab.

    Just wait and see how long it takes these clowns to try and make all these trades mandatory.

    And speaking of tranparency:

    What is the salary structure at this so called college ?

    Ripped of again!

  23. I don’t understand why I need all this red tape. First your not going to stop under the table work, they don’t get permits. I’ve been in the business over 35 years and seen alot of changes but some things remain the same. First business has always been to eliminate the private electrician dong so called there work. when ever I did a job a permit was taken out and an inspector checked my work. Then the next thing I know I need a Masters licence. Told it would be for the benefit for me and business (business would would hopefully eliminate me), so business jumped on it and hired one Master and whole pile whoops some electricians and a number of apprentices. So now we had an electrician or apprentice do the work , supposedly a master examines his and then an inspector from hydro makes sure his work is done right. Why the master? They say there going to increase more trades. The gov;t tell there is a shortage supply and demand. will fill that out. We know have 2 inspectors checking work and a college bureaucrats. Oh and buy the pricing has increased excessively since the gov’t has gone in and now even business is up in arms. Well my licence will expire and I’m told if you don’t have a licence you get a warning. What a joke.

  24. it’s obvious by all the negative comments that the ocol is not needed nor wanted .we must stand together and try and stop this communist bull before it goes past the point of no return….or is it already too late

  25. My blood boils when I here the rhetoric from the upper echelon of the College of Trades and the provincial politicos every time I read or hear them state “the vast majority of tradespeople are in favor of this”.

    Let’s review a bit of history on this Ontario College of Trades.

    The Ontario Liberal government motion for the creation of the Ontario College of Trades was made and passed into legislation in 2009. Little if any information about this College was disseminated to the actual people it was to govern, the trades people. So how did our elected officials come to the conclusion that the people wanted this?

    From March 6 – April 19, 2012, the College conducted a public consultation relating to the membership and registration regulations (fees, structure and such). They state that “All stakeholders in the College database were notified by e-mail and a news release via Canada News Wire”.

    http://www.collegeoftrades.ca/wp-content/uploads/Registration-Regulation-Consultation-Summary-2012-06-29.pdf

    Where did they get the email database from, and whom did it include? I know that I received no such email. Canada News Wire is only as good as to how many news agencies and newspapers decide to actually publish something on the subject. For which I don’t believe many if any actually picked up the story.

    Reviewing the actual Consultation release, among the tens (?hundreds?) of thousands of “stakeholders” (?tradespeople?) affected by this, the College only received 65 submissions. Of those, only 11 were from actual individuals, about 38 submissions came from approximately 11 union associations, and the balance of about 16 were spread across approximately 16 other associations and councils. It is not clear if the submissions from the union, associations, and councils represent one individual each, or a group of individuals. Not one submission was received from the service sector.

    In light of the poor response for requests of submissions as per above and others on the College of Trades website, tell me again how all stakeholders are being consulted and how “the vast majority of tradespeople are in favor of this”?

  26. I was told that this has OCoT has been in the works since 2009 and that we the trades people have had the ability to “input” our opinions from the beginning. REALLY?? I just heard of this in the past 6 months and now my business is held hostage if I do not pay them. I do not remember voting on this nor voting for the board members… yet this is a democratic society?? How much are these board members getting paid? What are their qualifications to be in charge of each trade?
    Apparently they will protect the consumers from dishonest tradespeople… who is going to protect us tradespeople from dishonest consumers. Working in the automotive industry I have had implement many policies of documentation to ensure I do not fall victim to the “you did my oil change now my brakes are shot” kind of customer. Problem is… there are many of them out there.
    How is the college going to stop the back yard mechanics. The ones who do not have a licensed shop, no insurance, not paying taxes or WSIB? I asked them this and was told that we the tradespeople will have to inform them… so now we are paying them to do what? Yet we become “RATS”…. total crap
    This college of bullcrap is throwing legitimate tradespeople under the bus.

  27. I received a few letters from these clowns a few months ago and threw it with the rest of the junk mail. But today my boss tried telling me this is mandatory or my C of Q is invalid. now I like the idea of this. It reminds me of Mike Holmes complaining about cleaning up the Construction industry.But it’s not about the guys with the C of Q’s. in my trade it’s the guys that own the repair shops, dealerships (the guy with his name on the side) hiring cheap labour. I’m all for making sure theres enough licensed guys to overlook the apprentices work. I’m as tired as anyone else watching a first year apprentice or less work on someones car in the shop and the owner charging $90 an hour. It could be cleaned up easily by the apprentice office and labour board, one apprentice for every licensed guy. But will that change anything?
    Public education is paramount. if you go to a garage and there’s six guys in the shop but only one C of Q on the wall, walk out. But money talks and the cheapest or second cheapest get the work. Customers only complain when the work was shobby.
    Apprentice officers and the ministry of labour can take care of this, if they worked like we do. My wife is a speech and language pathologist working for the government and she is forced to work at half speed because of the red tape everyday. It’s not gonna change anything.
    Sorry for the rant
    Too many chiefs …..

  28. Hey Crane Operators – where is your opinion ? I am small owner operated co & they are double dipping on me ! The gov’t has there hands in my pocket every month – so what do I get in return for this B.S. ? In the Union you get something in return – what is this bunch going to do for me ? My trade sticker says I am valid to 2015 & have been receiving threatening letters from OCOT saying my license will be revoked if I don’t pay ? *&%$#@$%*
    Our local politician says this crap was snuck thru & they had only 24 hrs prep to fight it ? I believe its about beaurocratic gov’t jobs – and they are paying themselves way more than I can take home after paying for everybody else !
    This is so wrong

  29. So if we all were not to pay this $120 per year, which use to be $60 every three years! What would they do? Revoke all are licences so there were no Trades people to do the jobs….
    How is it that when your C of Q is paid up till 2014 or 2015 that they can revoke it and make you pay additional charges, so that they can pad there pockets!!!
    I love how all there phone lines have been jammed! Then when you do talk with some kid making double are salary to take phone calls with No qualifications they have no answers for you, but the line they were given to read to us….

    Good luck getting more Trades people!!!

    • Robert Koci

      The OCOT is threatening to make it even harder to find guys who are willing to work “over” the table rather than under it.

      • All these costs and restrictions, license fee’s , ESA license , Master Licience, Massively high insurance costs and WSIB and who knows what else they are going to come up with.. its no wonder most licensed electricians avoid legally starting their own buissness.. its much easier to work under the table..zero liability in cash work.

  30. I would like the government to repay me back the two years I have already paid for on a three year certificate that is stamped expires in 2015. How does the College have the right to say I owe anything if my fees are paid and not due until then? Says I hold a valid certificate until then, THAT should be honored, and they have the nerve to make up a date of expiry, render existing certificates for two staff members in my shop Jan 2013 when their certificates are valid until 2015 as well, not only this, they want late fees !!!

  31. How do I report a contractor who has unlicensed “techs” installing maintaining and servicing air conditioning equipment ?

    • Steve Payne

      Thanks for your post. How do you know they are unlicensed? What province are you in and what type of work are they doing, for what type of customer?

      • I worked for them, and installing residential air conditioning systems, recovering refrigerant, releasing refrigerant into system without any sort of refrigeration license

      • Steve Payne

        OK, thanks for the info.
        Our friends here at HPAC magazine suggest you start with HRAI. http://www.hrai.ca.
        Anyone else with advice, all welcome.
        Good luck!

      • I spoke with HRAI and they said that the company is not registered with HRAI, Who then governs unlicensed refrigeration and air conditioning work being done

      • Robert Koci

        Who did you speak to at HRAI? Give me a name.

  32. Section 24 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides for remedies available to those whose Charter rights are shown to be violated. Some scholars have argued that it was actually section 24 that ensured that the Charter would not have the primary flaw of the 1960 Canadian Bill of Rights: Namely, Canadian judges would be reassured that they could indeed strike down statutes on the basis that they contradicted a bill of rights.[1]

    So if you read this shall you read the Canadian bill of rights too, its amazing how these so called Liberals, mess around to serve special interested, instead protect the apparent abuse to take place.

    Ho could a small group from the ECAO, created the ECRA, trough legislation to impose all their rules and tyranny on all electrical certified trades people?

    Leasing so called master and contractor license to the compulsory electricians wish to have their own business. That’s absurd, when one went for apprenticeship training and became a C&Q.

    A private org, ESA/ECRA financial report 2013 looks like 96.6 million revenue.
    This org, board of directors, and CEO,at this point isn’t known how much they are making.

    Now how could the government allow the same thing in different title called OCOT, Ontario College of Trades. All this for a price tag and mandatory.

    Please take time a read the Canadian civil rights, it looks like a trump up on our laws for monetary gains.

    The certified compulsory trades became the special target, the profiling group, no escape, no choice, either join or face career prejudice.

    The freedom of the individual free choice. Lets give a loot at the human rights code too.

    Legislature laws are subject to the Constitutionals Canadian laws, apparently if abused became void.

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