Canadian Contractor

Reader's Post of the Week: "Take your 'college' and shove it!"

Derek James Dilabbio has been a carpenter for 25 years, he says. He describes the Ontario College of Trades as "blatant ransom."

May 28, 2013
By Steve Payne

Our “Reader’s Post of the Week” goes to Derek Dilabbio, who put the following post under Steve Maxwell’s article entitled Why Government Spreads. Maxwell mentioned the Ontario College of Trades.

Derek Dilabbio, a carpenter, then posted under Maxwell’s column, copying us on the following “memo” that he says he just emailed to this new provincial government created regulatory body, whose first step is to send $130 invoices to tens of thousands of tradespeople in the province. (Editor’s note: Carpenters like Derek Dilabbio  aren’t yet required to join the Ontario College of Trades. In our industry the following trades must join the College and pay its fees: electricians, plumbers, sheet metal workers and certain categories of HVAC mechanics. However, many observers believe that it will be only a matter of time before the College expands to include all licensed trades, including carpenters.)

Subject: Ignoring your “ransom” demands

To whichever thief it may concern.


As a “Certified General Carpenter” for well over 25 years, I hereby notify [your] fiasco of a “College” that I will not pay any of the blatant ransoms you depict as “fees” to your illegal organization that is neither ”industry led”, industry-backed, nor industry / socially beneficial to any Canadian.

I am a craftsman who will always be a Certified General Carpenter and there are no threats your “cheap” organization can make, nor any “lawful” actions you could attempt, to stop myself and fellow tradespeople, from continuing our crafts and presenting ourselves as who we are: Certified!

Point blank, take your “college” and shove it!

With utmost disrespect.

Derek James Dilabbio

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4 Comments » for Reader's Post of the Week: "Take your 'college' and shove it!"
  1. Leah says:

    Derek James Dilabbio took the words out of every “certified” contractor in the country. The unfortunate fact is the day you got your ticket (license) you hung a target on your back and the government and it’s counterparts just keep adding rings to it and taking shots at you every chance they get. The underground economy is in one hell of a lot better shape than any of us legitimate business owners and our employees. My husband holds two certificates of qualification in two different mandatory trades; therefore, two targets trying to take cover now!
    Tradesperson shortage in Canada? Perhaps it’s because too many went underground when they saw where they were headed. My sympathy to every certified, insured tradesperson, I’ve been watching a slow painful death for 30+ years now and a cure is yet to be found. Tradespeople unite!

  2. Wendon Wattam says:

    I don’t know if the college 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 $120.00 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 $20.00 per year if a person works for arguments sake 2000 hours per year, that adds $0.01 per hour to the bill, at $120.00 per year it works out to $0.06 per hour. I don’t think 5 cents per hour is the problem of 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 but it does seem like the preverbal ‘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 over night 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 and noticed 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 2 things. One is nothing, as they 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 etc and other courses maybe would count in our training requirements, but it would show that we take skills updating seriously. Also the free training given by company’s 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 side step 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

    • Al says:

      Not all the unlicensed workers are in an underground economy.
      Many work in factories doing some limited skilled work. and as part of the
      voluntary trades, there is no problem.
      But to increase revenues, OCOT will make more trades compulsory, and the workers
      will not be able to do the jobs any more.
      For example building of prefabricated trusses in a factory could be done by any trained person,
      but if carpenter becomes a compulsory trade, the person would lose a job,
      and the factory would have to hire a licensed carpenter.

  3. Steve Payne says:

    Wendon, thanks for your comments. Very detailed and thoughtful post and we appreciate your contribution to the debate.

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