Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

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

Canadian Contractor Capacity

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.

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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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