Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

Provinces needlessly limiting apprenticeship opportunities, report says

Canadian Contractor

Entry restrictions to the skilled trades are not the best way to protect workers and the general public, the C.D. Howe Institute says

Editor’s note:  This report comes to us from the C.D. Howe Institute, a public policy “think tank” in Toronto

Outdated provincial regulations are needlessly limiting the number of apprenticeship opportunities available to trades workers, according to a report from the C.D. Howe Institute. In “Access Denied: The Effect of Apprenticeship Restrictions in Skilled Trades,” authors Robbie Brydon and Benjamin Dachis say that reforming those tight regulations is crucial to meeting demand for skilled workers.

Skilled trade workers – ranging from electricians to carpenters to welders – are a crucial component of the Canadian labour force. However, many employers report shortages of skilled workers in these occupations, note the authors.

“While federal and provincial governments have targeted many grant and tax credit programs to encourage workers to become apprentices, myriad provincial regulations limit how many apprentices firms may hire,” said Benjamin Dachis. “This red tape is stymieing program efforts and limiting apprenticeship opportunities.”


Provinces regulate whether workers must complete a certified apprenticeship to legally work in an occupation, the length of apprenticeship terms, and the rate at which firms may hire apprentices relative to the number of certified workers they employ, known as a journeyperson-apprentice ratio.

“The effect is to reduce the number of people who work in a trade,” said Dachis. “Furthermore, the trades in provinces with the strictest journeyperson-apprentice ratios have lower levels of young workers and workers who manage to find work in these trades have higher incomes, suggesting that these regulations may be acting as barriers to entry.”

Governments have set these regulations in order to protect workers and the general public by encouraging workers to gain the proper training in skilled trades. However, entry restrictions are not the best means by which to regulate the quality and safety of work, say the authors.  Instead of regulating the rate of apprentice entry, governments should focus on regulating quality of work and safety standards.

“With recent moves by the federal government to encourage workers to enter the trades, it is now up to the provinces to eliminate antiquated regulations on apprenticeship,” concluded Dachis.

For the report go to:

For more information contact: Benjamin Dachis, Senior Policy Analyst, Colin Busby, Senior Policy Analyst, C.D. Howe Institute, 416-865-1904, email:





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2 Comments » for Provinces needlessly limiting apprenticeship opportunities, report says
  1. Questo says:

    The Effect of Apprenticeship Restrictions in Skilled Trades.

    This matter should be flexible at least for small family business on some trades.

    It can’t be understood when a journeyperson he/she can’t have his sons daughters working on his/her trade with out having two more journeypersons on the business, at least on the electrical trade, this is stupid ideology.

    What about if he/she can’t afford to have these other journeypersons on the business. Some unions are the problem on this matter.

    Agreed with the article above, the quality of work should be the key not the quantity control of journeypersons skilled trades. IMHO.

    Regulators and their notorious failures.

    • Ryan says:

      By bringing in a 1 to 1 ratio . Everyone’s licence as a skilled trade persons will be undervalued. I personally have worked extremely hard to get to where I am today. (Night school , Saturday school and college ) I am a foreman at an electrical company and can tell you apprentices need constant supervision. For there safety and the safety of others.
      If you were to flood every construction site with a 1 to 1 ratio tommorow it would be chaos. I personally would be afraid to go to work. To someone who has seen serious injuries ,that could have been avoided if only they got properly trained by a competent worker.
      And believe me when I say this NOT EVERY JOURNEYMAN IS COMPETANT WORKER. And not every JOURNEYMAN should be training apprentices. Some journeyman are strictly there for labor.
      Also the best safety training you can get in the trades, is from someone working in the trades period. This argument that the government is somehow going to police safety on the jobsite is ludicrous.
      I hold safety in the highest regards and anyone trained by me gets shown the proper ways to be safe on a jobsite. And the reason iam like that is because I was shown by a competent Journeyman . I have taken numerous safety courses and heard all the rules , but none of them compare to seeing a true skilled tradesman show you first hand.

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