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Alberta electrician says Ontario College of Trades wants his cash, too

Canadian Contractor

If he doesn't cough up $360 every 3 years to this Ontario-only body, even though he resides in Alberta, he will lose his Interprovincial Red Seal electrical license.

An electrician in Alberta, who got his original Certificate of Qualification in Ontario, sent us a letter about how, when he contacted the Ontario College of Trades recently, he got some pretty disturbing news.

Here’s his letter.  (The lobby group against the College of Trades has a website at

Dear Editor:

The new Ontario College of Trades is the worst thing that could happen to tradespeople, and not just in Ontario.


I’ve been an Alberta resident for 22 years, after moving from Sarnia. I received my inter-provincial license in Ontario 33 years ago. I’ve always renewed my electrical license with a simple $60 fee every 3 years to the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities. I heard from the Ontario College of Trades for the first time last week when I received a letter stating I must pay them $360 every 3 years. When I contacted the client services department of the College of Trades asking them to explain the benefit of the 500 per cent increase, they said it was to manage the Ontario program. I was told I would have no benefit and no say in the Ontario program. Either I pay money for nothing, or lose my inter-provincial electrical license. It’s ransom, plain and simple.

Ontario’s costly membership fees are a major deterrent to young apprentices. My advice to young people considering the trades as a profession is to come to Alberta. Keep your hard earned dollars, and get your license here. It’s good for life, with no ongoing fees, issues or hurdles.


John MacMillan, Electrician

Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta



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38 Comments » for Alberta electrician says Ontario College of Trades wants his cash, too
  1. Mark Johnson says:

    I am an electrician in BC. As far as I know once you recieve your interprovincial ticket there is no fees to renew it.

    That ticket is like graduating from school. Once you finish you are done. No one I know pays fees like that.


  2. John Billwiller says:

    I am a ticketed Automotive Service Technician (1977) and a ticketed Heavy Duty Mechanic (1995).
    While they aren’t Red Seal, I have never had to pay the provincial government or any trade organization any fees after getting my trade tickets. Sounds like a cash grab for executive salaries at the College of Trades.

    • mike says:

      That’s exactly what it is….I am a carpenter apprentice who is struggling enough as it is in Ontario and for them to put this college of trades together and charge trades people fees without them getting a say as to weather they even want a college of trades is a joke they will be gotten rid of soon because no one in the Ontario trades wants this

  3. Derek says:

    I’m surprised that he has needed to renew his license. Was that to be able to work in Ontario?

    I pay a yearly fee in British Columbia as a refrigeration mechanic for a contractor’s license, I believe it is similar with electricians. But my red seal qualification is not up for renewal. If I moved to another province excluding Quebec I could work in my trade. I may have to get provincial permits for other aspects of the trade, or to set up as a contractor, but not the basic qualifications.

    I think in BC that the Field Safety Representative license that certain electricians hold requires renewal. I’m not an electrician so the details are not clear, but I believe this license is required by those who pull the permit and call for inspections. They have to pay $114 every 3 years.

    • mike says:

      Ontario is the highest taxed province and the most expensive place to live in Canada. They tax us for everything and drive fees up so high…that’s what we get for people voting Liberal

      • observer says:

        Sales Tax or Income Tax. In either case your statement isn’t accurate.

        For Sales (GST + PST or HST) the highest are: (

        Nova Scotia & PEI (15%)
        PQ (14.5%)
        Ont/NF/NB (13%)
        BC & MB (12%)
        Sask (10%)
        AB (5%)

        For Income Taxes (
        ** Single income (No family):
        Ontario is tied with five others for “highest” at the $10k income mark only (negative 4.7%). The next highest rank is 3rd at $600k +, 5th at $175k+, 6th at $20k and between 8 and 10 for the income range $30k – $100k+.

        – factoring in the Sales Tax, Ontario ties for 3rd with three others at $10k, 4th @ $600k, 5th @ $175k, 6th at $20k and 7th for all other income levels.

        ** Single income, 2 kids (between 6 and 17 years old): Ontario ranks 2nd (tied with 5) @ $20k, 3rd @ $10k, 5th @ $175 and $600k, and 7 – 9 for $40k – $100k+.

        – factoring in Sales tax the ranking shift by +/-1 in a given category.

        The marginal tax rate (how much taxed on the next $ earned at a given income range) is harder to compare because most of the provinces have different income ranges, but you’d have to find an narrow income range for Ontario to rank the “highest taxed”.

        As for “most expensive place to live” – this also hard to determine. Straight housing prices are usually Toronto/Vancouver as 1/2 or 2/1. Edmonton and Calgary have also become pricey. You need also to factor in incomes vs expenses since earning more in a place where you pay $3.50 for bread may be “less expensive” if you earn less and are paying $3.25. BC, Alberta and Ontario are generally seen to be the “most expensive” places, but declaring – by fiat – that Ontario is the “most expensive” is a bit thin.

      • Marilyn says:

        I have lived in Ontario all my life and recently moved to Nova Scotia and you think Ontario taxes are high, try living on Nova Scotia. It has the highest taxes of anywhere in Canada. HSC in Ontario is 13% here is 15% and that’s nothing we have a sewer tax. 3 litres of milk in Ontario is $3+ here in Nova Scotis it’s $6+

  4. REG Russell says:

    I also received my electrician inter provincial license in Ontario back in 1980. I had been paying renewal fees there until I moved home to NS in 1994 and now use my NS certificate to pull permits. If the Ontario College of Trades needs extra money then they should be providing some type of service for these fees. I don’t need an Ontario license here in NS because that is what the inter provincial agreement was set up for.

  5. Dave says:

    They have to pay for those offices on Bay St.

  6. Jc says:

    This is very interesting. As far as I know the red seal certification does not require a renewal or an annual fee

    I believe in Alberta the only annual fees are for master electricians . And I believe in British Columbia the annual fees are for the contractors license. In both of these provinces these fees are for the ability to pull permits

    I would love to hear more about this Ontario stuff….. Honestly if I needed to pay a yearly fee I would just incorporate that into my billing

  7. dustin says:

    hi there. Yes unfortunatley this is whats going on in Ontario. It always was $60/3 years for your trade license. Now this apparent College says they will be handling the traded for Ontario and the new cost will be $120/ 1 year. A 600% percent increase, we had zero say in this and its extremely dissappointing. They are also hitting young apprentices with this same fee structure. I called the college and was simple told “if you dont pay you cannot legally work”. Who i reached seemed more like a call center only to take your credit
    card info.
    If anybody reads this please take 2 seconds and chexk out

  8. dustin says:

    hi there. Yes unfortunately this is whats going on in Ontario. It always was $60/3 years for your trade license. Now this apparent College says they will be handling the traded for Ontario and the new cost will be $120/ 1 year. A 600% percent increase, we had zero say in this and its extremely disappointing. They are also hitting young apprentices with this same fee structure. I called the college and was simple told “if you dont pay you cannot legally work”. Who i reached seemed more like a call center only to take your credit card info.

    If anybody reads this please take 2 seconds and check out STOP THE TRADES check out the website and sign the petition, from here you can also sign onto prewritten letters which you send to your MP from the website and to the media, Great site.

    Also as a last resort anyone know what is required to transfer your Ontario Red seal license to Alberta? I also work in Alberta but my license is issued out of Ontario.

  9. Ken says:

    Is it possible to transfer your jouneymans ticket to another province?

    I too am licenced in Ontario, but work in Alberta, so if i don’t pay this does it only affect the licence in Ontario?

  10. Ken says:

    I see in a later where he asked and received a letter from Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training stating his Red Seal ticket was valid in Alberta, regardless of wether he is a member of the Ontario College.
    I just challeged for my license a year ago, I should have challeged it in Alberta, Likely a alberta red seal trade is valid in Ontario without paying the fees also.

    • red seal certified says:

      i wish you were correct . I have an red seal plumber/gas fitter ticket from alberta .(its a combined trade there) I have moved back to my home province of ontario . Im told that I have to pay every year 120 dollars to this dumb ass college . i also pay tssa 100 dollars a year for my gas fitting license to be valid here in ontario . I didn’t pay a dime in alberta once i received my tickets . hell here in ontario gas fitting isnt even considered a trade . they have their shit pretty twisted here .

  11. bill says:

    this whole college of trades b.s. is a result of that goof mcguinty trying to make his budget look good by eliminating salaries, that would normally come out of the government of ontario’s budget, and dump in on the hard working trades people of ontario.

  12. Paul says:

    I agree that this College of Trades is a level of bureaucracy that we don’t need and I can see the fees going up every year to cover their inability to manage. I have my Alberta electrical ticket with the Red Seal. When I moved back to Ontario that was good enough to get work. Later I was offered the Industrial CofQ through a grandfathered clause but they wouldn’t give it to me as I didn’t have my Ontario Construction Maintenance CofQ. I told them I didn’t need it as I have my Red Seal and they told me I could have the Ontario Const/Maint. ticket for $33 and with no challenge, then they could give me the Industrial ticket. So basically my Alberta ticket is good enough in Ontario, they just wanted my money. So the question remains, do I really need my Ontario CofQ, do I just let it laps and save my $120. Any thoughts?

  13. Chris Kuntz says:

    I am going through the process of having my years of experience in the welding industry officially recognized by getting my CofQ Metal Fabricator(Fitter) in Canada. I’ve been told the fees to write the test includes the first year cost membership but I need to continue paying the $120 per year to call myself a journeyman Fitter or a holder of a Red Seal. If I don’t switch employers after getting my CofQ I don’t need to pay the fee since Metal Fabricator is not a mandatory trade. There are no tangible, direct services for the $120/year fee and I still need to maintain trade organization memberships, CWA and AWS, and my CWB and TSSA certifications (or have my employer pay for it).

    It seems to be a huge money grab for some bureaucrat to make money off the working tradespeople of Ontario.

  14. Todd weberg says:

    yes I payed the government $60 and they sent me my steam fitting ticket with the expire date 15/12/15 and now the collage trades in ontario said my ticket expired in 15/12/13 and I have to reapplied to have my ticket renewal but I also got a alberta ticket but can’t get a red seal here as I have one in ontario, pissed off with ontario

  15. Duane Chambers says:

    Its bull, the government seems to want to break the unions because of dues but WE get forced into a college with no benefits and thats OK, its extortion!!!!

  16. mikey says:

    Hi I have my red seal heavy ticket issued in alberta,no cost .Now if I want to work back in Ontario I have to register with the college,The problem with the Ontario ticket working in alberta it is only good until the expirey date and then you have to pay the college for your renewal again to work legally in Alberta.Also they have the equivalency program here in Alberta where they will give you a permit to work here with your provincial ticket,non red seal as long as it is valid,thats where they get u again,when you go to renew again..

  17. mikey says:

    Forgot check out Trade Secrets,Alberta, Tilma, trade investment,and labour mobillty agreement.

  18. Joe Greps says:

    Have to wonder mikey how long before AB or somewhere else calls foul. These provinces pay hundreds of thousands to participate in the red seal program to benefit from labour mobility.

    Now we have a situation where AB currently respects the red seal license of an Ontario tradesman as per the red seal agreement but Ontario does not reciprocate. I can’t see that continuing for long, sadly the end result will likely be other provinces retaliating with similiar fees in kind. Any tradesman that works abroad in roles like equipment warranty support could be facing thousands in fees.

    IMHO if Ontario does not respect Red Seal licenses of workers from other provinces they need to be booted from the program.

  19. Anne says:

    So, now my question is: If I have the Red Seal Construction Electrician and applied for C of Q for Ontario to work in this province – can they ask me to do the exame again. I received a letter that I have 90 days to complete the exame or I’m not allowed to work in this province. I thought Red Seal is interprovicial?

  20. Chris says:

    I received my red seal electrician certification in Alberta in 05. We recently relocated back to Manitoba and I have been told that I have to apply for a MB license and pay an annual (I believe – it could be tri-annual) fee to the government here. I have been looking on their website and can’t find anyplace where the fee schedule is listed either – found that to be very strange. From what I can tell, there are also other separate fees to be a certified contractor, as well as permit fees for each job (permit fees I would guess are standard in every province). So I have no idea what the annual license fee is actually for. I could understand a small one time fee of $20 to $50 to be entered into the MB system but otherwise it sure seems like a cash grab.

    Also, as others have mentioned, it really does seem like an violation of the principles of the Red Seal certification program, as well the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT). See their website:

    I’m thinking about filing a dispute via AIT and seeing where that goes. From what I’ve read in the comments, I would strongly recommend that others contact them and consider doing the same.

  21. Questo says:

    Thanks guys for understand the bullshit we in Ontario are going through, compulsory trades and the electricians are in the class treatment as nothing more then incompetents in the eyes of our Ontario government.

    The QP allow the creation of the ESA/ECRA side agency made only by a few NFPO companies to dominate the electrical work. Then allowed the infamous OCOT, another red tap none sense not needed, only to collect money nothing more, all these under the guise all source of costumers protections.

    The funny thing is: when politicians talk about competition comparing to other developed countries, they fail to understand a lot of issues in this matter.
    Developed countries have one license compulsory countrywide trades, not provincial regulations this and that. Canada does not look like a country in a lot of issues, but instead a small countries in a pack. It serves well all these collective agencies parasites. One trades compulsory licence should be allowed in every Province regardless what province the apprenticeship program and the C&Q was token.

    The ECRA and OCOT and all others just in the collection mode, are parasites and should all be abolished, They produce nothing, and worth of zero of their existence.

  22. Sterling McCauley says:

    I have a red seal Alberta ticket in sheet metal, I moved to ontario before the college of trades existed. Now my ticket is invalid and not legal to work here unless you join and pay them their money… What’s worse is they won’t recognize my ticket is good for up to 4 tons a/c . Tssa won’t recognize my ticket has gas fitting training .. Too bad, do it over again here if you want to work here is their answer .. But make sure you pay us out yearly dues on all your tickets when you get them. Just a gov job creation that trades persons have to pay for with 0 perks! I would rather move back to Alberta . My advice , Alberta has a higher level of education in trades that make ontario tickets look like a joke, at least in my trade. Get an Alberta ticket, stay there , otherwise you need 3 different tickets in ontario to do what you can with your alerts sheet metal ticket.. And it’s free!!!

    • Bill Rowe says:

      FYI,Alberta has a watered down apprenticeship in the trades .3year apprenticeship,Ontario is 5 yr apprenticeship .A higher level of education ?Not

  23. JONATHAN BORJA says:

    I have my certificate of qualification for electricity in quebec since 2008. Can I use this certificate in Alberta or to other provinces in Canada.

  24. Paul Graham says:

    I totally agree with you on this because it makes it more costly to even obtain a recognized trade.
    After paying the 150.00 examination fee for my 404d industrial painters i too was expecting the 60.00 fee and in turn to get the physical card with the stated trade certificate i obtained i had no choice but to pay them 165.00.Nearly 300 percent.
    Ask any tradesman what are the benefits of this program……ahhhh good question.

  25. STEVO says:

    I say let your ticket expire…. Ontario can pull your journeyman status but only for Ontario. The red seal will always remain. Also if you read the qualifications on As long as you “HAVE” a red seal regardless if OCOT pulls your journeyman status then in Alberta they will still recognize you as fully qualified and competent in your trade because of your interprovincial high quality standards. (ticket not required) they must have dealt with this before. Also if you like you can just get yourself an ASN (Alberta Student Number) and fill out the application for your Alberta journeyman certification without any further examination or testing and tell OCOT to suck it…
    Hope this is of some help.

    • Bill Rowe says:

      The regulations are there to ensure that handyman and unticketed trades people cannot do our work legally ,as it should be .

  26. wayne ostrander says:

    I have the ontario interprovincial red seal electrical ticket that keeps increasing in cost every year including a letter of threats if i dont pay , can i transfer to a sask. red seal and still retain full status…

  27. Brian says:

    Does anybody know: can a person with electrician red seal certificate in Alberta work in BC or ON as an industrial and construction red seal or separate tickets needed?

  28. Wayne Morris says:

    I am a automotive Tech, but cannot for the life of me figure out any benefit from paying such high fees every year. I questioned them on this and their reply was, well we stop unlicensed people from working on cars, and that does what for me???????

    One other thing that has always puzzled me, is why does one have to have a red seal to work in other provinces it’s the same country same cars.

  29. Tim Gibbons says:

    The Ontario college of Trades is an embarrassment. They do nothing for nobody.

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