Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

Ontario College of Trades undermines federal government's funding of skilled trades, Stop the Trades Tax lobby group says

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Federal politicians are plowing money into skilled trades training. But in Ontario, the McGuinty government decided to force skilled trades people to pay fees to belong to a "College of Trades" that will offer no classes and train no workers whatsover.

The Stop The Trades Tax Campaign warns Ontario’s new trades tax will undermine new federal budget initiatives to support and promote skilled trades. These budget 2013 initiatives, including the Canada Job Grant program, are aimed at easing the growing shortage of skilled labour in Canada.

Under the Canada Job Grant program announced in last week’s budget, employers can get $5,000 in federal funding, which must be matched by $5,000 in provincial funding, to match their own $5,000 commitment to train an unemployed or underemployed worker to do a skilled trades job.  Quebec has, in recent days, announced it will refuse to participate.

In Ontario, the federal government initiatives will be undermined by the mandatory fees being levied on skilled trades by the Ontario College of Trades, says Sean Reid, chair of the Stop the Trades Tax campaign.

“We have a federal government supporting skilled trades through a new job grant program, at the same time the Ontario government is hammering tradespeople and employers with a new trades tax. The two run completely counter. Unless Ontario stops the trades tax it will wind up contributing to Canada’s skilled trades shortage.”

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The Ontario College of Trades, which will teach no courses and train no workers, is set to begin mailing $120 fees invoices, which must be paid, under law, to some 157 categories of tradespeople in the province.  In the home improvement industry, this includes electricians, plumbers, sheet metal workers and air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics. Apprentices must pay $60.

“The Ontario government’s new trades tax will drive good people out of skilled trades,” Reid added. “We’re already hearing from tradespeople who’d rather find other work than pay a hefty new trades tax. This new federal initiative will not be able to undo the damage caused by Ontario’s regressive and shortsighted tax on tradespeople.”

To learn more about the Stop the Trades Tax campaign go to www.stopthetradestax.ca.

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