Canadian Contractor

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Bob Onyschuk, head of enforcement for the Ontario College of Trades, talks about the powers his officers have to force contractors to prove their credentials

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March 21, 2014 by Robert Koci

Bob Onyschuk is the director of the “compliance and enforcement division” of the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT).

The job of his enforcement officers is to ensure that workers in the 22 “compulsory” trades for the OCOT are paid up and doing their jobs properly. Or at least paid up. (In our industry, plumbers, electricians, HVACR technicians and sheet metal workers are “compulsory.” Carpenters are being reviewed to see if they should become compulsory as well.)

After a presentation to a small crowd at the recent CMPX show in Toronto for the mechanicals industry, I had the opportunity to follow up on a comment one of our readers made online regarding the extent of his enforcement officer’s powers. (See the comment here.) The comment suggested OCOT enforcers cannot disrupt a job site or stop trades from working in order to confirm their good standing with the college unless they received a formal complaint about that trade or company.

In this video, Onyschuk seems to dance around the issue of whether a complaint against a contractor is necessary in order for OCOT to force them to show their credentials.

Here is the transcript of the discussion…

Onyschuk:  Right now, we kind of live on complaints, but it doesn’t stop us from, for example, if we see new home residential going up, right, we’ll go on the site, we’ll go into the site trailer and we’ll find out where the certified trades are.

Koci:  You have the authority to do that under the charter of the College of Trades? Or is there another charter that allows you to do that?

Onyschuk:  It’s under the Provincial Offences Act. We are POOs, Provincial Offences Officers. And in the Act, if you look under certain sections, it tells you when we have the authority and where we have the authority to be.

Koci:  Not in the Ontario College of Trades Act but in the Provincial Offences Act? Or in both?

Onyschuk:  Both. You have to be a Provincial Offences Officer to be able to enact certain parts of the legislation. You have to be both. So if someone complains to me that, let’s say, Ace Plumbing & Heating hires illegal workers, unqualified workers, if I come across an Ace truck sitting somewhere, I can’t… I can go up to the door and knock and say, ‘Hi, I’m with the College of Trades, and I can show them my credentials, I have a warrant, I have all that stuff… I have to tell them that, “You have to give us permission to come in, but we have a concern.” If the homeowners says, come in, we’ll go…

Koci:  But it has to be inspired by a complaint, though?

Onyschuk:  Not necessarily. If I drive by and I see Ace’s truck there and I know I’ve heard we’ve got some trouble with Ace…

Koci:  Oh, I see, it doesn’t have to be a formal complaint…

Onyschuk:  No.

Audience Member:  So it can be like profiling. There’s Ace’s truck, let’s go check up on this guy. Is that what you just said. That’s what I thought I heard.

Onychuk:  No, I said if I have a complaint that talks about Ace hiring unqualified workers then I can go and, say, if I run across Ace somewhere, I can go and check…







Robert Koci

Robert Koci

Rob Koci is the publisher of Canadian Contractor magazine. Tel. 647-407-0754
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26 Comments » for We'll go on the site, we'll go into the site trailer…
  1. Ray Marsden says:

    Correction you don’t live on complaints you live on tax payers dollars
    What else do you people do beside enforce your OCOT scheme on others.
    Do you have anything positive to say. We all know you are in it for the money and position. I notice already name changes up top and I suspect its to skip away from the flack coming your way. It is now apparent they are providing vehicles, uniforms and who knows what other perks to a growing number of staff who are being paid huge wages and benefits. I would like to see all staff members qualifications shown on the website to make sure they are legal. OCOT should display on their website a complete list of each employees pay and benefits as well all personnel and there expenses. Every expense should be listed separately for our viewing.
    You are completely out of line and out of your depth of knowledge and understanding of trades people who have apprenticed, studied and worked hard to obtain their qualifications as a qualified tradesman. These are learned, dedicated and very independent workers. They do not need to pay fees to the likes of you to remind themselves who they are or what they can or can’t do.
    OCOT as I see it are very clever people who know how to talk and manipulate their way around and establish themselves in a new bureaucracy with supposed government backing.
    I myself joined against my better judgment ( my existing auto. license was good until 2015 ) so as they said I would then have a say in our trades.
    Well I am saying I want a refund and I don’t intend to pay again.
    I ashamed that these our own Canadian people can be so bad. It is very difficult to write about these kind of situations which are really stifling the good that should be done. Their annual fee will just keep going up each and every year to suit their spending choices, they will always think up new needs to spend on.
    Hoping they go away isn’t going to work, not paying them will.
    If nobody joins they won’t be able hire any trades people themselves, they may even have to Google how to fix this or that and get their hands dirty.

  2. Patrick Grieco says:

    Am I the only confused by the Director’s answers? One would think, and hope, that the Director of Compliance and Enforcement of OCOT would be able to give a very clear and concise answer as to what powers of trespass his inspectors have. He tap danced around the answer and confused on purpose in hopes that contractors and tradesmen will remain in the dark and will comply with an overzealous inspector because they are afraid and don’t know their rights.

    Does somebody know a lawyer familiar with the applicable acts than can give us a clear and concise answer so that we exercise our rights and not get in trouble with these idiots?

  3. Questo says:

    Hi Rob, I am thank full to you for this interview: Great Questions, but should be more, like where is the transparency of payments of the OCOT personnel?
    Why are in place 4 weeks of vacation? Was he so nervous he want this interview as short as possible? If he and all the others have nothing to hide, what the hell, explain clearly what the trades people want to know and clear their concerns.

    I notice a large amount of panic on his body language, have he pee on his pants?. They know they are committing fraud, they know they circumvent legislation, they know the Canadian basic laws are been violated,
    they know who set this college up, and apparently fail to understand section 74 of ORLB, unfair and arbitrary, ops,,,, but until people pay seems to be fine.

    what a fool, what about been charge with economic piracy body? What about a warrant arrest to all of them?

    Yeah mr,,,,, blla bla,,, in private homes builders and home renovations they have no business. If they step in intimidation form they have to be asked to leave, on asap, or send them the dogs.

    For the warrant matters, they have to call the local police, because the police have legislature powers and city bylaws voted by councils, to get a warrant from a judge.

    In so the judge have to be convinced an act have been violated, well the police have no knowledge of the function of trades apparently.

    The OCOT can’t act under legislature laws, because is a private org, most likely judges will be confused,,,, who really have this authority as a private org, how this was obtained, and when, if was it properly, bang. No direct legislature powers, indirect will not be getting a warrant. That’s why he was none legs stop,
    and try divert the issue.

    In accordance with their bylaws done by them only, OCOT, is right there, he his a maniac, yeah come where I am at, and see how fast you will be ask to leave.

    They, these goons apparently know what is coming against them soon. April 8/2014 will be a good day for fun, I suppose. Yeah mr,, bla bla how fast will you run?

    The budget may come with 5 billion birds flying low, no meat for the OCOT this time, how deep are they in debt? BY BY BY AMERECAN PIE.

    My lovely grand father: When a house is build on a false foundation soon will twist or fail, just make sure will not trap into hell.

    • 15 year carpenter says:

      You Idiot:

      The Inspectors for the OCOT are provincial offense officers. Not only can they act, they can search sites and even private homes. He said it perfectly, All he needs is a complaint and to knock on the door and show who he is to the person who answers the door.

      Provincial Offences Act
      R.S.O. 1990, CHAPTER P.33
      “provincial offences officer” means,

      (d) a by-law enforcement officer of any municipality or of any local board of any municipality, while in the discharge of his or her duties,

      (e) an officer, employee or agent of any municipality or of any local board of any municipality whose responsibilities include the enforcement of a by-law, an Act or a regulation under an Act, while in the discharge of his or her duties, or

      Conditions governing powers of entry
      (2)1. The notice must be given to the occupier of the land in respect of which the power of entry will be exercised.

      Power of entry re inspection
      436. (1) A municipality has the power to pass by-laws providing that the municipality may enter on land at any reasonable time for the purpose of carrying out an inspection to determine whether or not the following are being complied with:
      1. A by-law of the municipality passed under this Act.

  4. Petros Dratsidis says:

    This guy Onychuk talks and acts like a Soviet commissar of the Stalinist type. He does not understand the role of an inspector in a western society, which is, in theory at least, to help the working people and in particular the building trades and not punish them just to show to them that he has the power – on the basis of his interpretation of the law- to do so. Furthermore, he contradicts himself: he is incapable of telling us with certainty if he is authorized by law to do what he thinks he is entitled to do. He seems to be another fat-salaried bureaucratic parasite, another “civil leech” – not a “civil servant”- who lives at the expense of working people in the private sector, a civil leech enjoying all the perks and privileges his redundant position has to offer, as well as the false self-aggrandizement that comes with it.

  5. Questo says:

    Petros,, Calaspera, Bravo,,,, its amazing how these fools brag about it, the foolish power they have. Man if contradiction was natural gas the whole room will had exploded on spark arc, even static. looks like he his on drugs.

    That’s the kind of help the trades people will get, from these banana heads.
    Treats to pay to support this insane venture. I can’t wait to see this cronies abolished.

  6. Questo says:

    To the 15 years carpenter, looks like you love them so much why can’t you became of these Trolls.

    Remember, city by-laws are approved or disputed trough councils. They got to the cities by vote. City by-laws also are changed by vote, you miss the point. Cities inspections are under a the power of a democratic vote, and transparent manner.

    The MOL is a direct legislature powers, under the elected government or you forget that.

    Private org, its like a security service company. And none for profit org, is a total different thing, as the OCOT. The NFPO, can share their wealth to others NFPO, or use their founds as charity. So you have to look for the cat in here.

    The Ontario government create this mess, called OCOT, they were not voted in like the Ontario teachers college, which took place on may 1997. And the by-laws of the OCOT are only changed and approved by them.

    Yeah your argument on the paper is right, but only for democratic and transparent powers.. The OCOT have no place on the democratic and transparent manner, so is illegal. Can you appoint politicians, and councils?

    You expressed before, you wouldn’t mind have them, but have a problem with their payment. So seems you aren’t compulsory trades, us compulsory, have been paid this kind of stamps to the MTCU every three years. No reason to have this collection agency up on us.

    Unfair and arbitrary actions have no place in this province, The one start this whole thing, was a union president and apparently didn’t read the ORLB which deals with the unions. Unions members vote, right, why this OCOT wasn’t.
    What makes you thing they are ligit, just because the guy on video says so.

    • Big Dutch says:

      Questo I realize this is a very late comment however if you’re still around, do you have a problem with the concept of a governing body keeping the skilled trades pure and unmolested?
      Are you aware that doing so ultimately will pay it forward with regards to salvaging a ” middle class ” in this society!?
      Too many people out there fancy themselves as entrepreneurial and worse yet, “smart” or “talented”.
      If you needed a job done at your home by a tradesman and he came to your door but struggled with the English language, would you trust him explicitly?
      Or would you like to know he’s got credentials and not just some Joey that came to Ontario, or Canada for that matter and couldn’t find a job and decided one day he’s a home builder?
      Not far fetched by the way, I know a man who decided one day to be a landscaper and proceeded to ruin people’s properties for about 4-5 years.
      He stiffed his suppliers and often the customers and disappeared.
      Then one fine summer day he surfaces in my neighborhood asking my neighbors if they wanted their roofs done. SO NOW HE’S A ROOFER! When he got to me I recognized him and declined immediately. I figured that my neighbors would know by talking to him ( his appearance and grammar were both very poor) that he was sketchy at best but certainly dumb as a post…..Well a few leaky roofs later!!! People’s homes were damaged and hearts were heavy. And by the way, their roofs needed to be done but weren’t leaking until he put the new roof on.
      Sorry Questo but too many douchebags out there calling themselves skilled workers.
      I’m not for more government in most cases but we need to keep the Douchebags out and keep skilled workers employed in good paying jobs so they can support their families.
      Douchebags don’t see past the weekend. ” If I do two roofs this week, I’ll have enough $$ to buy 5 boxes of beer and 4 bags of my favorite smack AND I won’t have to work for a couple weeks ”
      Catch my drift?

  7. Doug Leitch says:

    I am wondering if anyone has caught Bob’s finally comment at the end of the clip.
    He said if we have a compliant against Ace plumbing!
    So as per the College of Trades and Apprenticeship act 2009 Bob has just confirmed that it is based on complaints bases!
    Listen to the video again because mentions compliant against Ace plumbing 3 times in the video. I agree with one of the speakers in the video on profiling of companies.

    Remember the business are not members of the OCOT and the act states
    To receive and investigates compliant against a member of the College. so I stand by what I have said that no compliant no investigation and from the video Bob has just confirmed my statement!

    I would like to know did the Ontario government involved in selling membership into an organizations. Has the Ontario trades people been lied to on what the College of trades really is a private arms length away not for profit organization or is it really just another government body?

    It looks like the OCOT is trying to have the best of both worlds by the benefits of a not for profit and the benefits of a government body?

  8. Questo says:

    Hi Dough, There is some arguments apparently explain this false venture OCOT
    about the possibility of the sale of certifications on the tax price tag in exchange of the $120. And yeah, it seems about based on complains, should I pay $120 plus tax, to support someone’s complain? Hell, no.

    But there is something way beyond this can even be considered as a possibility, NFPO, can invest out of the country in special in DR in tourisms areas yielding 25% to 30% short investments free of tax 90, 180, 275, 365 ( 4X90) days, meaning tax heavens. And using us the trades people as paws, the so called the stakeholders, for them to eat the beef.

    Then share the profits among the CEO and board of directors. Also using the tax heaven bank accounts, to shield them selves. In order to find out if the OCOT have any offshores accounts in this matter, They should disclose their finance status. This voluntary, may never happen because they will argue the protection of the NFPO, none discloser act. I believe a financial investigation, trough the ombudsman should be conducted, or the police, OPP, RCMP too.

    However, they appear to have an enormous over head Spence’s, If they will not get any money from this government, either they will sink or the possibility above mention maybe the norm. Something isn’t right with this OCOT right from their start.

  9. Oleber says:

    Yeah, they will clean up alright, our wallets, and bank accounts.
    Show us your money trails, then the clean up can start.

  10. Oleber says:

    Mr. Onyshuk, A question for you:

    As you proclaim to be ”with the college of trades” and also as a POO’s
    maybe you can explain why private info of C trades people were made public with out their consent and knowledge?

    If you are in reality what you claim as POO’s You should address the situation, or you just want o see your college members, papers? Make sure you get paid, right? I believe you said Ace truck is in here lets check it, sound like profiling.

    Who really voted for you, and when was that? The OCOT is a self regulatory body? Done by who?, by you guys only, imposing what is impossible, and unfair.

    What kind of certification you hold? How long was your apprenticeship, and for how long you practice? Next time you maybe on video tell us all that, show us all your certifications.

  11. Questo says:

    Slowly but steady, that’s what counts, another major victory for us trades people.

    Thanks to the Windsor Local Liuna 625 and all their personnel in the fight for our rights, which shouldn’t ever be abused in first place.

  12. Questo says:

    Another one, Toronto location too. Finally the wake up call.

    Hey Alec, great victory, I told you before in my comet, waiting would pay off, in deed in many directions. Man, this is great news.

  13. Oleber says:

    College of Trades makes the Sunshine List!

    Today was also the day the salaries and taxable benefits of Ontario Public Service (OPS) and broader public sector (BPS) employees who were paid $100,000 or more in 2013 were released… and 10 members of the College of Trades made the cut! Congratulations to:

    Robert Guthrie • Registrar and CEO • $180,000.08

    Robert Onyschuk • Director of Compliance & Enforcement • $136,668.30

    Anthony Brenders • COO/Executive Director • $134,006.36

    Wally Zajac • Manager, IT • $123,451.86

    Warren Barbour • Director of Member Services • $122,996.46

    Tetyanna Tesolin • Manager, HR/Labour Relations • $110,224.95

    John Poirier • Manager, Standards • $104,692.26

    Dainora Juozapavicius • Senior Advisor • $103,312.34

    Rohit Deengar • Manager, Finance/Controller • $102,796.95

    Jeffrey Green • Manager, Investigations & Hearings • $100,504.56

    This is just the first 10 of them, Tsubouchi is the CEO now.
    Inspectors are an a range of 70k each times as many they are then = total
    This is the new way of creating jobs, for their cronies.

    Why the minister of MTCU is still in his position?

    All this waste of money just to see a few papers, what kind of cool aid have the Liberals been drinking?

    Self regulated college of self erasing hard drivers, maybe this one will work.

  14. Ray Marsden says:


    This is far worse than I could have imagined possible, it seems there is no shame.
    What could these people possibly do to require so much of our dollars.
    I will display this sunshine list in future. We wouldn’t want to forget who they are or what size appetite they have.
    Nothing in this list showing anyone involved in education, teaching or any kind of college work.
    I have a lot more questions about this group later.

    College of Trades makes the Sunshine List!

    Today was also the day the salaries and taxable benefits of Ontario Public Service (OPS) and broader public sector (BPS) employees who were paid $100,000 or more in 2013 were released… and 10 members of the College of Trades made the cut! Congratulations to:

    Robert Guthrie • Registrar and CEO • $180,000.08

    Robert Onyschuk • Director of Compliance & Enforcement • $136,668.30

    Anthony Brenders • COO/Executive Director • $134,006.36

    Wally Zajac • Manager, IT • $123,451.86

    Warren Barbour • Director of Member Services • $122,996.46

    Tetyanna Tesolin • Manager, HR/Labour Relations • $110,224.95

    John Poirier • Manager, Standards • $104,692.26

    Dainora Juozapavicius • Senior Advisor • $103,312.34

    Rohit Deengar • Manager, Finance/Controller • $102,796.95

    Jeffrey Green • Manager, Investigations & Hearings • $100,504.56

    This is just the first 10 of them, Tsubouchi is the CEO now.
    Inspectors are an a range of 70k each times as many they are then = total
    This is the new way of creating jobs, for their cronies.

    Why the minister of MTCU is still in his position?

    All this waste of money just to see a few papers, what kind of cool aid have the Liberals been drinking?

    Self regulated college of self erasing hard drivers, maybe this one will work.

  15. Oleber says:

    Ray, don’t forget this above may not be so accurate, because they may had a raise, and also they have four weeks vacation pay from the start.

    Now I am trying to get the ESA/ECRA,,,, ECRA disclosed payments too. but seems no avail. This agency too were another creation from the Liberals.

    They seems to tramp on the rights of C&Q Electricians, its another front for the money. Because one looses his/her C&Q for none payments or any other motive
    The ECRA so called licenses will be void, Its good for nothing.
    I read a comment in this blog about this subject which makes cense.

  16. Oleber says:

    To many bills to create side agencies to collect money in apparent legal form,
    which leaves suspicious of the legislature of Ontario was used for this corruption rings. That leaves the ESA/ECRA, OCOT and others as monopolies without competition. And most likely unconstitutional, I believe none of these agencies will pass in the supreme court of justice, because is their way or the highway.

    This was on this contractor blog, and is an excellent comment, it seems to many people want the money but would not work for it.

  17. Oleber says:

    When an electrical contractor decides to close their business, retire or otherwise cease operations, they are required to return their licence certificate to ESA as it is ESA’s property.

    Additionally, should an electrical contractor’s licence expire, be suspended, or revoked, the contractor is required to return their licence certificate.

    This sounds like an asset, been put on the C&Q Electricians, or a bound.
    So guys you don’t even owned this so called ESA/ECRA license, you leased on a price tag to do electrical work.

    Now this apparently worked for the money pits, There came another one the OCOT. You took four years electrical apprenticeship and C&Q for what?

    For all trades people out there, just wake the f,,,,,,, up and fast before is to late. These money pits on our cost have to end, a lot of justifications were created under all source of guises, to milk the hard work people.

    With the information tech we all have today, we really need these agencies to protect the costumers, and all other bullshit.

  18. Oleber says:

    Please open and read.

    These were the ones to start the ECRA, and wasn’t enough, then they apparently help more wolfs for the feast, OCOT, how many more will be created?
    Vaseline anyone,,,,,.

    As a myth saying: hell is filled with good intentions.

    If trades people stop for a week all together, all these scam ,,,,,, will notice,,,,

  19. Patrick Grieco says:

    Nothing like the College of Trades to make you forget about mandatory WSIB coverage for a few minutes….and then you snap out of it and realize we are taking hits from all sides.

    Can someone remind me why I am a contractor/tradesman in Ontario? Or at least a legitimate one? This is starting to make underground cash work look more and more attractive.

  20. Oleber says:

    Patrick, Its looks like what the Liberals wanted, to handle fines to people in way they can’t afford, if caught make underground cash work, they have the snitch phone numbers in place. Or tag the trades people in unfair deal, in all fronts. Its money first and safety later, in all labels and fables.

    The way things are going, apparently the Liberals, will be boated out very soon.

    Its getting harder and harder to make a leaving in this province.

  21. Questo says:

    Robert Onyschuk • Director of Compliance & Enforcement • $136,668.30

    Hey Mr. Robert Onyschuk, are you getting paid all this money just to check Ace’s truck, right? ( or complains based) Based in 40 hours a week is $65.70 per hour not to bad to look for someone’s truck or complains either. Are you not a shame of your self? Do you have 4 week vacation as well? What about give you a job and tools to use as a shovel and a piker all day long?

    Leaving large, right, Catholic echelons were shamed in Boston for their rampant
    lavish style on others, lost their nest of insane comfort, hope this may soon happen to all of you OCOT’s too.

  22. Joe Greps says:

    According to the OCOT website after one year, almost 6000 site visits, and $20M the OCoT has laid a grand sum of 131 charges. How many members have been suspended for professional misconduct or incompetence is conspicuously missing. One would have to suspect few – if any.

    In a province of 13.5 million with apparently so many incompetent and crooked tradespeople that a regulatory College had to be required – it is a shocking admission of gross incompetence and complete irrelevance that this is all they were able to accomplish.

    It would in fact appear unscrupulous tradespeople have little to fear from the OCoT and in fact Ontario may very well be a fantastic place to set up shop.

    Well done CoT! You might just create jobs after all!

  23. Questo says:

    He Joe, 131 charges, if was all $195.00, most likely, its about $25545.00.
    Yeah grate job from the OCOT, no questions to ask, just disappear, close the doors OCOT, and attached a sign to the front door, the most shame full scam ever created in Ontario. That’s why I and a lot of certified trades people didn’t sign with them. They had violated my professional info without my consent, they made that public, they have to face the music. They keep sending latters for me to pay, right, will never happen.

    Looks like Tsubouchi was used as a toll, and he took the bait.
    From around 150.000 compulsory trades people in this Province, they had 6000 visits,? what about some done it more then once to read their bullshit, will be a lot less. I may have logged more then five times, to read all the bla bla.
    Its another scandal about to be front page news, I can’t wait for it.

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