Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

Reader's Post of the Week: "I am willing to give it [Ontario College of Trades] a chance"

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"At $120 per year, if a person works 2,000 hours, that works out to 6 cents per hour. That can't be the reason for not getting the job."

Editor’s note: We’ve had hundreds of posts on here about how the Ontario College of Trades is a bad thing: introducing a costly bureaucracy into an already regulated industry (residential construction) and squeezing yet more money out of the pockets of legitimate contractors.

But here is another point of view from Wendon Wattam, who put a lot of work into this post that appeared on our site a few days ago. Whether you agree with Wendon or not, it’s a thoughtful contribution and we thought it should be republished for a wider audience.

I don’t know if the [Ontario College of Trades] is going to be a good thing or not but I see the possibility that it could be. I am willing to give it a chance and see if it can make a difference. I have heard a lot of negative comments but I can see some possible benefits. Maybe the fact that we as trades people are not willing to fund a unified voice is one of the reasons that we have an underground economy. If $120 per year makes the difference as to whether you get the job then maybe one needs to look in other directions for the problem. At $120 per year, if a person works (for argument’s sake) 2,000 hours per year, that works out to $0.06 per hour. I don’t think 6 cents per hour is the reason for not getting the job. I know that it is one more thing like insurance, WSIB, etc. that we do pay that make the legit contractors more expensive, but it is not the main reason. Although it does seem like the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back.”

I have heard the fee branded as a tax; I choose to see it as a ‘professional fee.’ Other sectors such as lawyers, doctors, and nurses have had their own colleges for years. They are required to pay their professional fees to continue in their chosen profession. I cannot hire a lawyer or a doctor that does not belong to their respective colleges. There may be some that operate outside the legal frame work but they cannot command the same wage and there does not seem to be an underground economy to any extent in those professions. I am not saying that there are no quacks but for the most part when you hire a lawyer you know what you are getting as they are registered with the college. I know that our industry won’t change overnight but if we approach this as professionals and possibly give it a chance this could make a future impact on our trades. The last information that I have is that most professions that have colleges are making a lot more per hour than we are.


Another aspect that I think may apply here is an experience I had in my former profession as a dairy farmer. The farm community was poorly heard by the government. When the farm community did not support their organizations with fees, they did not have the funds to properly present their needs and requirements to the government. Also, when the government is presented with multiple voices asking for different things they can do two things. One is nothing, as they will say the industry does not know what it wants and that is a good excuse to do nothing; or because there are so many different lobby groups they have the option of doing what they want. When an industry or profession can have their own organization present ideas with a unified voice and direction then governments take more notice and things are more likely to get done. A mandatory yearly fee to one of the three farm lobby groups was passed into legislation many years ago. There were provisions to have that refunded at that time, whether that is still in place I do not know, but you had to pay the fee to receive a farm registration number which entitled you to some tax breaks and programs.

Another experience that I had with the introduction of colleges was when my wife’s chosen profession of Medical Lab Technologist became their own college about 23 years ago. The fees also went up but as they were now self-governing they started requiring yearly and ongoing training. I would suggest that this might be a good thing for our trades professions and could raise the professionalism status of our professions in the eyes of the public. Maybe WHIMIS, fall protection and other courses would count in our training requirements – it would at least show that we take skills updating seriously. Also the free training given by companyies and suppliers might become more than just sales pitches as they would need to meet certain standards as set by the college to qualify as training. This may or may not happen but it is a possibility.

One example of a unified voice is in the area of apprenticeship ratios. Because different parts of the trades have been calling for different things, the government has been able to sidestep the issue for to long. If we in our respective trades can hammer out what we want and go to the government it is going to be a lot more difficult for them to let the status quo remain.

I know that these are just some comments but we cannot just write off what could become a positive and powerful tool for improving our professions and the monetary rewards associated with working in the trades.


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5 Comments » for Reader's Post of the Week: "I am willing to give it [Ontario College of Trades] a chance"
  1. Rich Eckhardt says:

    Yes, good comments from Wendon. For my part it’s not about the money but rather the intrusion of the government , again, into my life unannounced and with no recourse but to pay up and shut up. The idea that after 37 years in a trade someone can take my licence away if I don’t pay my dues is absurd. We all know guys working out of the trunk of their car performing all manner of repairs, renovations, services. The “college” can not stop this, it doesn’t matter if they have 200 or 2,000 inspectors. As far as education and safety are concerned, if you care about your chosen trade and livelihood and want to be known as someone who knows what they’re doing, you’ll make sure that you and your crew are trained and safe. Again, nothing that the “college” will help with. I’m sorry, but as far as I’m concerned it’s just another money wasting government department.

  2. John MacAngus says:

    I don’t necessarily have objections to a Ontario College of Trades, but what I take exception to is the huge increase in fees that I am paying for my license.

    Even though I am already paid up to August 2015,
    I will have to pay the Ontario College of Trades fees THREE TIMES,
    before my current certificate issued by the Ontario Government expires.

    At $135.60 a year, that works out to $406.80 to the College while I still have a card in my wallet that legally should be valid until Aug 2015.

    • Robert Koci says:

      I don’t think you can approve of the College but not of the fees they charge to keep them operating.

  3. Ronald Blewett says:

    I have no intention of paying for the licence which I hold here in Ontario, this is just another bureaucratic boondoggle. More parasites feeding at the trough in Toronto. How did the entourage who are ensconced on Bay Street no less, get their appointments, apparently they were selected but no one knows what the parameters were, nepotism and sinecure most probably…..The disingenuous reasoning behind this whole farce is public safety and trades monitoring, what a joke when we already have a top heavy inspection department, who know when they inspect, who is good and who is not. The free market soon takes care of poor tradespeople who are engaged in running a contracting business. I will surrender my licence here in Ontario, because as far as I am concerned this falls under “consent of the governed” and they did not obtain it. Just another piece of legislation and regulation rammed down the throats of non consenting tradespeople, and enforced by the thugs in government, Brad Duguid and the rest of the world improvers in Toronto.

  4. Jeff Heinbuck says:

    I dont approve of a 600 percent increase in the fees associated with conducting my trade in ontario. I do however like the idea of a college of trades but not at a cost such as this if the government before could do it for 20 a year why cant a college of trades. sounds like just another person digging deeper into my pocket and with 2 kids not yet in school, a house, rising energy costs. trust me i dont need another person digging deeper


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