Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

Ontario College of Trades enforcement activities to replace Ministry of Labour efforts

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The Ontario College of Trades has talked a lot about how it will go after unlicensed contractors. Well, the Ministry of Labour used to be responsible for credential-checking, via its 140 construction inspectors. Now it will get out of that activity.

By April 8 of next year, the Ontario Ministry of Labour will no longer check contractor credentials – such as asking to see Certificates of Qualification and other licensing papers. That task will by then have been passed to the brand new Ontario College of Trades.

Some industry observers are questioning how the Ontario College of Trades can claim to be bringing a new broom to sweep away unlicensed tradespeople in our industry, when the Ontario Ministry of Labour was already doing that with 140 construction inspectors (out of a total Ministry of Labour inspector force of more than 400). Those inspectors went onto job sites to check for safety and working conditions violations, but they would also check papers. The Ontario College of Trades has, at last report, hired 20 enforcement officers.

“The one-year transition period will allow the Ontario College of Trades to build its broader enforcement capacity,” says Matt Blajer, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Labour. It will need to build that capacity considerably to come even close to the field force that the Ministry of Labour was operating with. The College has said that it will reach 120 enforcement officers over time.

Enforcement and regulation is what the Ontario College of Trades is largely concerned with. It will teach no courses and train no workers. It is an almost purely regulatory body.


The College has claimed that it will promote the trades to young people. Yet older workers in “voluntary” trades will not be forced to join the College, while new apprentices and journeypersons, even if they are in “voluntary” trades, will have to join.

They, and workers of all ages in “mandatory” trades, will have to pay $120 fees to belong to the College. Many contractors have already received these invoices. The College is expected to raise millions of dollars through these invoices to support its enforcement activities and pay for its Bay Street headquarters.

Under the Ontario College of Trades Act, the College has the power to make it illegal for contractors to work, in licensed trades, if they don’t pay up.

In our industry, with more categories of trades being added to the “mandatory trades” list over time, the following trades must pay to join the College:

– Electricians

– Plumbers

– HVAC trades

– Sheet metal workers


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9 Comments » for Ontario College of Trades enforcement activities to replace Ministry of Labour efforts
  1. Dean K. says:

    From what I have read elsewhere, the OCOT is presently in talks with TSSA to take over their licensing and enforcement as well. I really do think that this whole OCOT is being set up to download the costs of things that should be provincial responsibilities onto the tradespeople. It feels as though there is a hidden plan/agenda that is being followed to which we are not privy to.

  2. Stephen B. says:

    In our area an inspector for the Ministry of Labour stated at a Homebulders meeting that he would be targeting sheetmetal works for certificates. 8 years later I have still not heard of one fine being laid and yet I know of 9 or 10 heating companies that do not have qualified workers. The Ministry of Labour has done nothing about it and I doubt the College of Trades will either.

  3. OK so what about all the work that gets done without permits, say a lot of residential renovations. Once I pay a fee how will they know I am registered? What power do they have to come onto job sites. MOL has more power then police it seems. Oh the questions just go on and on. Help I am drowning in paperwork.

  4. j norton says:

    the OCOT does nothing, gets to hang out in a Bay street office? biggest rip off the canadian constuction worker will ever see, It gets to rake in millions of dollors and all they really do is make sure you pay, If you pay then there is nothing else they can do for you the constuction worker. they should take over TSSA one useless body taking over another. anyone that doughts me(Sunshine Propane) .

  5. Albert Francis says:

    OCOT was set up to govern the trades by trades. All trades must be members and pay their fair share of dues. All trades must be compulsory, no exceptions. You have had more than enough time to set for inspectors and should have them in place by now.

  6. Marianne Golovchenko says:

    It seems everything I have read thus far has been extremely negative, but no one is thinking about the positive aspects of this program, at least certainly not mentioning them. Before Bob Rae there were lots of inspectors doing their part in making sure that all trades were being represented properly, and that the consumer was getting what they paid for. Granted we didn’t have to pay for the service from our own pockets. I think it is about time the government has come up with a plan to ensure that the trades people are going to be recognized in a way that will help the consumer trust the trades people. We can once again stand up with pride and not worry about the rip off artists and scammers. Our credentials will once again mean something, and our trades will be protected from the want-to-be’s. I don’t know about anyone else but I sure don’t mind paying, if it means i won’t have to worry about someone without my credentials will have my job.

  7. Jim Groves says:

    So l guess the 140 Ministry of Labour inspectors will be laid off because the OCOT doesn’t want them & won’t hire them……not!!!

  8. Roger Doiron says:

    Can a business be fined or penalized for hiring unlicensed employees?

    • Avatar photo Steve Payne says:

      If it puts those tradespeople to work on trades they are not licensed to perform, and a license is required, yes of course.

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