Opinion: Liberal majority in Ontario is ominous news for the province's renovation contractors
The Ontario College of Trades, its bureaucrats and union-backers, and the underground economy contractors, all got a big boost to their businesses with Wynne's election. The legitimate contractors out there just got another mouth to feed for the next four years.
By Steve Payne
The Ontario College of Trades will be emboldened by the election of Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals to an 11-seat majority at Queen’s Park. The PC party had promised to abolish the controversial Bay Street bureaucracy, which posts confidential information about contractors on public websites, whose board of directors is undemocratic and totally based on “appointments” – and whose enforcement officers had been seen hitting up legal, above board and tax-paying contractors – demanding to see their membership cards – during their coffee breaks at Tim Hortons.
Wynne admitted during the campaign that the Ontario College of Trades had been heavily criticized, but she deflected that criticism by saying that new categories of “compulsory” trades had been put on hold. They were put on hold just before an election the Liberals were heading into with a precarious minority and a well-deserved reputation as one of the most corrupt provincial governments in Canadian history.
Now that the College’s future is ensured, we’ll see how long that “on hold” stuff lasts, with respect to making drywall and carpentry “compulsory” trades. Meaning, you may very soon have to join the College of Trades to practice those trades – and you’ll need a Certificate of Qualification – if the College’s “review panels” proceed with their plans – to do so.
If those trades are forced into the fold, even a veteran – for example – renovator will not be able to legally do carpentry (insanity) or drywalling (insanity) without a membership in this organization. All this under the guise of “promoting the trades” (by strengthening the underground economy) and “protecting the public” (by misleading them into thinking that a membership in this dictatorial organization that teaches no courses and trains no workers, has any meaning whatsoever as far as the quality of a tradesman’s work).
MPP Garfield Dunlop, the PCs skilled trades and apprenticeship critic – and licensed plumber – has campaigned for much of the past year to rid our industry of yet another layer of bureaucracy and harassment, by abolishing the College. Dunlop was re-elected in his Simcoe North riding, but if he is to continue to lead the criticism of this organization at Queen’s Park, he will need your help. Only the loud voices of contractors across the province – debunking the misleading information pumped out by the College’s union friends and expensive PR practioners – to customers and the mainstream media – will slow the growth of what could be a giant bureaucracy within a few years.
Just what everyone needed, another obstacle to making a living as an ethical, hard-working and above-board contractor. Just what everyone needed: more jet fuel for the underground guys, who won’t be joining the College, won’t be paying their WSIB, and won’t be paying their taxes. Those guys will continue as they always have. Lots more formerly above-board professional contractors will be tempted to join them, working for cash, permit-less, trying to stay off the radar. And if Wynne keeps on using her favourite term “Revenue Tools” to stop Ontario from going bankrupt (not unforeseeable) Ontario contractors can expect to see even more WSIB cash-grabs that will make the Ontario College of Trades’s own taxes and harassment look like a tupperware party. Oh, and here comes the Ontario Pension Plan. Contractors will love that one, too. No one is doing more than the Liberals to make sure the cash economy goes into hyper-drive. And you’ll be branded a criminal if you cry uncle and are forced to join them. What a mess.