Canadian Contractor

Don't cooperate with Ontario College of Trades officers asking for your papers, contractor association head advises

Doug Leitch, an electrician who has - as head of the OCSBA - has exhaustively researched the actual legal powers of the Ontario College of Trades since its inception, advises his fellow contractors that if they refuse to cooperate with OCOT inspectors, they are, in fact, fully within the law.


March 18, 2014
By Steve Payne

If you are a contractor in Ontario and get a visit from the “enforcement officers” from the Ontario College of Trades (in their brand new vans), you don’t legally have to show them your papers unless they can prove that they’ve received a complaint against you. You can, in fact, ask them to leave.

That’s the assertion made today on our site by someone who knows the legalities of the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) better than, probably, any contractor in the province. Doug Leitch, an electrician from Carleton Place, Ont., who founded the Ontario Contractor & Small Business Association (www.ocsba.ca) last year, spurred in part by issues like the OCOT, has been communicating with the “College” for more than a year, pointing out their potential violations of existing law, especially when it comes to privacy of contractors’ information.

On our site today, Leitch posted this, in reply to another reader complaining about OCOT officers on his site:

“Did the OCOT compliant officers have a valid complaint against any of your guys? You are aware that unless they do not have a valid complaint against you or your guys, you do not have to show them anything at all?

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The only mandate that the Ontario College of Trades has is to receive and investigate complaints against members of the college!

Next time tell them where to go and ask them to leave. Then inform them that if they do not leave you will place a call to the police to have them charged with harassment because, unless they have received or can produce a compliant, then in my opinion the only reason they are there is to harass you and your guys.

It is time for trades people to inform these compliancy officers that they are a private organization and they do not have the same powers.
The OCOT is not a government organization!

I cannot wait until I meet one of these compliancy officers on a site where I am working. I have a copy of the legislation (The Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act 2009) in my truck. (That document) is the only thing that I will be showing them and then the door.

I will be taking down their information and filing a formal complaint of harassment against them.

Everyone, you need to know your rights and do not let these compliancy officers think they have more powers than they really do. Stand up to them now to protect your rights.”


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35 Comments » for Don't cooperate with Ontario College of Trades officers asking for your papers, contractor association head advises
  1. Joe Greps says:

    I would be real leery of going down that road.

    Don’t get into legal squabbles with people who have more money and better lawyers than you.

    • Grace Joubarne says:

      May I say as a victim of the ‘lay down and roll over’ mentality in Ontario, Ontario is in a s…thouse precisely because so many people asked ‘how high’ when told to ‘jump’. When most people refuse (lawful resistance against undemocratic regulations) there is nothing they can do to force you. Everyone must stop being cowardly and trying to protect only their own butt and instead organize, strategize, and get rid of the pestilence.

  2. Joe Greps says:

    Not saying for a second that this College and it’s goons are any less than insects.

    Some fights though just are not worth fighting.

  3. Greg Richardson says:

    Doug is 100% correct in what he stated in the written law the only mandate they have is to collect fees issue c of q and investigate complaints. Allowing them the satisfaction of seeing your papers is like letting a security guard write you a speeding ticket and I bet you wouldn’t let that happen!

  4. Allan May says:

    If the ocot is not a Government body, how can they revoke my license , as they have threatend to do I refuse to join?

    • Robert Koci says:

      It has been given power by legislation. It can revoke your license because the Act that formed the OCOT includes the power to do so.

  5. Oleber says:

    Hi Robert, the act that formed the OCOT was rushed trough legislation and 4 million dollars were spend to interview only a few people to set this unlawfull shit.

    For the act to be lawfull a free and fair vote should have taken place, which didn’t..

    The OTC, Ontario teachers college, was voted for it, on may 1997. So can anyone explain why this was done this way?

    Apparently the Ontario legislature was used and abused for this matter. Can politicians be appointed? I guess not, why?

    I believe this OCOT will not stand the court challenge, its wasn’t a fair and freely voted. This was forced it, this is apparent fraud, and the treat and intimidation letters are there to scare the trades people.

    Do they scare me? no at all, I didn’t sign with them nor I will and the court will decide. The ball is on their court now, do they know how to play soccer?

    Lets see, the more get this challenged the better. I believe a court order to investigate, or an inquire to investigate how this took place will show the reality of this fraud. Like so many scams from this government, we all know so far how many, its disgusting.

  6. Wow! It’s really unbelievable what you guys are going through.
    The similarities to this (thugs with official vans making illegal demands) and the Brownshirts at the beginning of the Nazi regime is astounding and just plain scary. The OCOT seems to be trying to enforce laws before it’s actually law.
    Do whatever you can to fight this atrocity. If you don’t like what they are trying to get away with now just wait until they are firmly entrenched and start flexing their muscles. Does $5000.00 a year seem outrageous? This is a direct tax grab on the honest working man. Remember what the federal liberals did with the GST? It will get much bigger and it looks like it won’t stop at just the money.
    You know that thisbis engineered by the unions, broke provincial government and the banks with tons of mafia influence from Quebec.

  7. simone says:

    so… is it true that carpenters need to be licensed by the OCOT? What happens if we aren’t? What exactly would a “carpenter” consist of in order to require this license? How do we go about getting one and does it cost a lot?
    It just seems as though there are so many hoops to jump through in order to get a job done that it is becoming not worth it. And a lot of the hoops are not even visible, just to trip you up. I have seriously been contemplating another line of work and that is scary because the younger generation seems ill equipped to take over the renovations industry.

  8. Jeremy Pinkney says:

    I’ve seen the OCOT inspectors in my area and they have visited sites my coworkers were on. I’d love to tell them to take a hike if they come to one of my sites, so after reading this article and the contents I looked into it a bit further. Doug Leitch’s comments indicate we have the right to tell them to leave unless they have a complaint against us, however, after looking at the ontario college of trades and apprenticeship act I’m not sure he’s correct, especially in regards to Part VIII s. 54 (1) and (2). It looks to me like it clearly says these inspectors can visit pretty much any site at any time to see if the tradesmen working there are registered with the college. Any clarification would be appreciated as I’d love to stick it to them like they are doing to us!

    • Grace Joubarne says:

      The Act is a fraud, legislated under false pretense and without meeting the constitutional imperative that the activity is proven to be of INHERENT risk to the PUBLIC if not regulated. No action that imposes restrictions on the rights and freedoms of any person can be taken until and unless that PROOF of inherent risk is in place. When they have no grounds, they do Plan B…secretly and deceitfully. An unlawful law need not ever be accepted. Know your rights under the constitution…like freedom of association/dissociation and right to your liberty of person (including your services and talents).

      All this folks, is the result of PM Mulroney signed the Rio Accord in 1992, giving the UN Agenda 21 force in Canada under the UN Shadow Government influence….you need to read to understand the real cause of all these horrible things happening in Ontario..

  9. Jeremy Pinkney says:

    I’d love to tell these inspectors to take off, but look at the college of trades and apprenticeship act part viii s.54 (1) and (2). To me it says these guys can visit any site and ask guys to prove they are registered with the college. I don’t think they need to have proof of a formal complaint against you as this article implies. Can someone clarify the rights we have as tradesmen? I would love to tell them to scram if given the chance, but by my interpretation of the act, we don’t have the legal footing to do so, and they have all the authority.

  10. randy says:

    Form a trades association and hire a lawyer to interpret the law for you. If all trades people got together to form an association with a small fee, we could afford to be properly represented. Let carpenters build houses and let our lawyers interpret the law. Power in numbers.

    • Dave says:

      Im not a union guy.. but this is where the unions should be fighting for trades. I’d gladly throw in money to get this settled the fair way.

      • randy says:

        How many contractors would support a pro trade association? If we work together we can help set the rules in a fair way. The lawmakers are subject to the masses, not the other way around.

        I’m with you Dave

    • randy says:

      Sorry, I should have said union, but I guess that’s what union, not association. Or is it the same thing?

  11. David says:

    Im against this as much as the next guy.. but if you go to

    http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_09o22_e.htm

    and read this..

    Production of certificate or statement
    (10) For the purpose of determining compliance with Part II or a Board regulation made under subparagraphs 3 i to iv of subsection 72 (1), the holder of a certificate of qualification or statement of membership shall carry his or her certificate or statement and, when requested to do so, shall produce the certificate or statement to a person appointed under subsection 54 (1) or a person authorized by a Minister’s regulation to request such production. 2009, c. 22, s. 37 (10).

    You may want to give in to showing them your credentials until we elect a new premier and get this Governing body restructured.

  12. Indiana Tysick says:

    And the government spends millions to entice young people to join the trades…jusy so they can be harassed and threatened by the OCOT Gestapo. I was already harrassed and threatened in my workplace. Young people- STOP entering the trades!!!

  13. jonesy says:

    What’s the problem show papers if you complainers even got any.

  14. Gord says:

    I started a Plumbing business 18 years ago and have a ttl of over 35 years hands on experience. There wasn’t a project I wasn’t able to take on and have piped half the city which I live in. Many good hard honest working people have aquired skills with physical labor and many are now being forced to close their businesses all because people who spend to much time talking about how to do things instead of doing them ,seem to think the world was built with their ignorant theories . I’ll sit back and watch now as this Province demoralizes it’s older workforce and allows young pen pushers and mouth runners screw it all up. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t learn skills but I certainly don’t think it’s fair to take a hard working persons whole life away from them and put them on welfare just because of a price of paper. If there was a lawyer of legal firm with any spine at all in this Province it should be fighting for all the people who have lost their businesses because of the ignorant way they transitioned this whole College of Trades program. If the previous Ministry of Labor actually had the right to enforce licenses then why did they not?! Something is wrong when you let people work for years without it then sneak in new legislation that deems the ability to enforce it. Honestly! Where is our legal system when you need it?

  15. mark eno says:

    I have never had so much trouble contacting an organization in my life! Last year I renewed my so called membership, which used go be a license and received nothing. Not even a wallet identification card.I am very leery about handing over more money to this independent joke of an organization. Shame on the government for not following through with what they started. I have been in my trade for over forty years.

  16. erik says:

    I got called on a service call to fix A/C. Client or so called client, was a new inspector fo the college, he didn’t need his A/ C fixed he wanted to read me the law according to the college, asked for my licenses, witch I refused to show as i told him I was regulated by the TSSA. He told me he overrides the TSSA! This is when he brought his training book out, yes training book!! He wasn’t qualified yet! Discussed by the way I got called for service only to be harassed! Come ony site you will be asked to leave! It’s private property! Just another money grab, and burden for legit guys like myself!!

    • Sam Kleinschroth says:

      I would have showed him my Membership Card and issued him a real nice fat invoice for the service call, with a notice at the bottom that if this invoice is not paid within 7 days You will be contacting collection to recover your money!

  17. Metallofu says:

    Erik, I am sorry to hear about your experience with the OCOT staff who wasted your time and money in order to harass you. Shame on people who would stoop to this type of harassment to prove to themselves they have a little power. Pity him/her who takes it to this extreme and receives the just and due reward.

  18. PA Shorty says:

    The TSSA wouldn’t recognize safety if it came up and bit them on the ass. And OCOT is no better. Its all about cash! If we all do our small bits we can get this crap removed.

    I suggest all contractors get a list of all Mpp’s (Liberals in particular at link below). Any service calls you get from one of them, either refuse to take the service call and tell them why. Or if you do take it, charge them through the nose for it and tell them exactly why its that expensive. I don’t mean nickle and dime..if your regular charge is $300 charge them $1500! Remember, there are no set fees, you can charge whatever you like…so make them pay..BIG TIME! All contractors that service government accounts should refuse to do the service calls as well. If more an more contractors start refusing the calls, they will get the message in a hurry once they start freezing their asses off when its 30 below and nobody will service their equipment!

    http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/members/members_detail.do?locale=en&ID=7085

  19. Jeff says:

    Well I’d want licensed people to work on my home

    • Steve Payne says:

      Anyone registered currently with the Ontario College of Trades in their 22 “compulsory” categories WOULD HAVE had their papers, long before OCOT was dreamed up by the bureaucrats at Queen’s Park. That is the main argument about it being a redundant bureaucracy.

      • Matt says:

        What about the ones that don’t? What about the guys that advertise themselves as a “licenced” tradesperson but learned how to fix an A/C unit from YouTube? And then he/she gashes the job up..what then? Do you guys really think that there should be NO governing body to ensure that a paying customer (That’s who you work for) is entitled to a tradesperson that can prove their qualifications and are backed up by an agency that would grant those qualifications???? I know I would.

        I’m not a tradesman, I don’t even live in Ontario anymore, but, I can tell you, the average Canadian isn’t really feeling the plight of the contractor when they hear the word “Nazi” or “Brown Shirt” applied to people who’s only job is to protect the consumer from un licenced workers.

  20. Sean says:

    Everything you have said above I completely agree with.
    This is by far another long gun registry style screw up.
    Maybe our wonderful government could move another gas plant and save some dollars to spend on more OCOT officers.
    The stupidy of this nation is astounding in every way.
    Daily more red tape daily more taxes for small business.
    I am very tired of the amount of BS they generate for us to sort out and now off the all the new code changes.
    When will it end?

  21. Nick says:

    I work as a mechanic in carleton place as well.. i will give this a go next time i see them, they are always bugging me.

  22. Dave says:

    Hi guys,

    good for you all !!!! Good to hear some honest opinions and voices’ on how stupid OCOT are. I believe that 99 % of trades people know and respect their given trade . . . . they are driving young people away in droves and are not helping or giving them any chance of success or be our future replacements when the time comes.

    I am a Automotive Service Tech with 36 years in my trade. OCOT (is) are thieves; idiots, know little or nothing that on goes in the “real world ” and are slow and dimwitted”.

    They talk the talk about boards; member’s from selected trades and people in trades that help with running OCOT . . . . horse shit to that. Even then they are clueless !!!!

    I think it’s time for a class action law suit be directed to these morons for what they do or more accurately . . . . don’t do.

    Try asking a question or being put on hold five times to realise they are under staffed; are trained poorly and cannot answer a simple question.

    Remember this . . . . 260,000 trades people in Ontario pay $ 120.00 ea and sometimes more if in more that one trade. What does one do with $ 14.44 Million dollars a year !!!

    Good luck to all and keep our voices strong . . . . and loud

  23. Zero Compromise says:

    Thank you thank you I am so glad I read this article some ocot wannabe cops came to our location today demanding to come into our shop we did not allow them and actually called the police because of the information in this and the two little rats in the little white trucks left with their tails between their legs I am licensed to the hilt for everything that I do do and I am not breaking any laws thank you again for writing this blog for everyone to see I will share it

  24. karl says:

    I agree what you are saying. I am Plumber , The Ontario Collage of Trades as a new organization did not anything for me, matter of fact, only increased the fees.

  25. jake says:

    Hi Steve, good article and hope your right!
    We are a HVAC contractor installing simple residential heating & air conditioners for the past 25 years and unfortunately I was a guy that learned the trade hands on and have my gas fitters ticket only (this ticket is important and all our guys must have it that work for me). I have allot of experience in the Air conditioning and sheet metal field but now I mainly manage and train the guys. I can do circles around most licenced guys with under 5 years experience and the majority of the guys fresh out of college that passed and have their refrigeration licences are actually theory minded only and are useless for the first few years until they have guys like me show them the way.
    Our company has an outstanding reputation for doing great work but am being threatened that I will get big fines which may close down my business unless I hire 1-2 licenced guys which I have tried to do but there just are not any that want to do residential AC or they want extreamly high pay rates that would not make us profitable so that means I have only one other option and that is to go and get a refrigeration licence myself just to keep operating which I don’t agree with due to my age and the fact that I just don’t feel I should have to.
    I can challenge the course but then they make sure they include tons of useless theory that you would never use in the field in their exams that I would have to go back to school to learn all the useless HVAC terminology and calculations just to pass so no that Is not fair. my question is, can I completely tell these guys to hit the road and force my employees to never give them any information as a company policy? I would of course tell my employees (office staff and field technicians) to tell them to call or come back only when they can talk to me personally at which point I would love to tell them to hit the road. if they give me a fine can I challenge it or just rip it up and ignore it? do you know anyone that has done this and succeeded in the past year or so? your reply would be greatly appreciated and think these questions are on the minds of thousands of other contractors in Ontario. I looked online and there does not seem to be anyone else that is giving advice on this from a legal standpoint.

    • Steve Payne says:

      Jake, thanks for your enquiry. Sorry to hear about your dilemma. About 4 years ago, when OCOT was just getting going, word began to disseminate (through Canadian Contractor and elsewhere) that you did not have to let an Ontario College of Trades Inspector into your premises, or answer their questions, without them having good reasons to believe a violation had occurred. They could go and get a warrant from a Justice of the Peace, to come and search your property, but they couldn’t just come in on no pretext whatsoever. To this extent, this information appears to remain true, because OCOT officers are Provincial Offences Officers, like police officers. A police officer has to have a reason to come in and start asking you questions in your own home or office, too. They can’t just bust in and interrogate you. BUT… and here is the rather large caveat… in our recent dealings with the Ontario College of Trades over the hydronics contractor who was fined $750, we have found absolutely no willingness by that organization to discuss what powers they do and don’t have. No surprise. They view non-compliant contractors, from our viewpoint, with no particular humanity. This is a legalistic, regulation-quoting, bureaucratic organization. Sorry we can’t be more helpful on your legal questions. Anyone else out there with stories of refusing to cooperate with OCOT inspectors? And what happened to you?

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