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Robert Koci   

Radio host churns out Ontario College of Trades propaganda

Canadian Contractor Business Disaster Professional

If ignorance is bliss, this guy is living in paradise

Sometimes you have to look for controversy. Sometimes it just falls in your lap. We received an email recently with an opinion piece from Peter Silverman, a well known radio host on Newstalk 1010. Enjoy:

This could happen to YOU. A strange noise in the middle of the night, you get up, there is a sound as if someone is using a garden hose. It’s a burst pipe, and water is cascading into the basement.  You have neither the tools nor the expertise to deal with the situation. Like anyone else, you get online or scour the Yellow Pages looking for a qualified professional. But how to tell if the professionals listed are qualified?
Or maybe you’re in the middle of a major renovation. Possibly you’re handy enough with tools, lumber, dry wall to do some of the job yourself. But there is some electrical wiring to be done, and that you do not want to touch. The fallout from a bad wiring job can be a disaster. So like most of us you prowl the phone book or go online.  It takes no time to find a long list of electricians— all seem to be qualified to do your wiring. But are they?  Over my 19 years as a consumer advocate including host of the show Silverman Helps, I’ve seen thousands of unsuspecting consumers end up in nightmarish scenarios due to unqualified or unscrupulous people posing as legitimate tradespersons. Until now, there has been no fast, simple way to find out if the tradesperson you hired was qualified.
But as of April 8 there is. How?
Through the Ontario College of Trades, a new regulatory and enforcement body specific to the trades.
The College will help you get the information you need on the tradesperson you hire by providing an online public register where you can search for individual tradespersons and check credentials, qualifications and standing. You can then be certain that you are hiring a professional.
Still there are those who argue that the majority of tradespeople are honest and capable so why do we need the College? Because it gives the consumer the assurance and peace of mind knowing that the tradesperson they invited into their home or business is qualified, works safely, and has been trained to industry standards.
It also gives the consumer recourse if things go bad. Small Claims Court often does not work. Municipal licensing infractions are usually not enforced. For the consumer the result is anger, frustration and a feeling of helplessness.
But with the establishment of the College, if you ever need to lodge a complaint or report misconduct, the processes to do so are now clear.  If teachers, paralegals, doctors and most professions have systems to uphold standards, punish bad behavior and protect the public, why should the trades be different? After all, these are skilled people who have studied and worked hard to gain their credentials. Like other associations the College will exercise a disciplinary function, but it will also protect the trades from unfair competition from people who work for cash under the table, who ignore safety rules and whose qualifications are dubious.
The College will be authorized to investigate reports of misconduct, and to take action on their findings. This is good news for consumers and for tradespersons themselves, who will no longer have to deal with unfair competition from rule-breakers who give their profession a bad name.
The Ontario College of Trades will give consumers the confidence of knowing they are hiring an honest and qualified professional. In turn, that consumer confidence will strengthen the industry. That’s good news for everyone.

Peter Silverman

If ignorance is bliss, this guy is living in paradise.



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22 Comments » for Radio host churns out Ontario College of Trades propaganda
  1. Robert Koci says:

    I have to say, I can’t read this without feeling sick to my stomach.

  2. Ian Szabo says:

    It’s not a surprise that more TV personalities are jumping on the”White Horses” to save the day. When you can make 20+ million on exposing 5% of the Renovations market disasters Why Not. It’s the same old story blame the artists that are building are country on brick at a time. Get the government to Audit trades people then send the info to WSIB so they can audit them too. Im tired of this bull shit, and I am sure 90% of the great trades are to. When are we going to stand up, or why not just go on strike for one day.

    • Robert Koci says:

      Ian. Good to hear from you, dude. How’s your flip school?

    • Chris Langman says:

      If every tradesperson who disagreed with the College of trades and mandatory WSIB (as opposed to private) Insurance coverage organized an industry wide withdrawal of both organizations, the government would take notice, and perhaps change their position.

  3. John O'Donnell says:

    ” Until now, there has been no fast, simple way to find out if the tradesperson you hired was qualified.”

    How about simply asking to see a persons business or trades license, seems pretty simple to me, and actually works

    Making us manditorily join some bullshit “college” that does nothing except gouge us for an incredibly jacked up yearly fee does nothing except enrich the lousy government of Ontario.
    Just another money grab from those who do nothing and provide nothing.
    Yet another ploy to hold us for ransom.

    Bloody thieves.

    • Robert Koci says:

      John: Yeah, that part of the column is almost shocking. In this day of contractor lists everywhere, and many of them very good, (HomeStars, Renovantage, EIEIHome, Remodelers Advantage, Renomark, trade association lists come to mind) how could someone with any knowledge of the industry suggest we need another list, especially one derived from the public service.

  4. Frank Scalia says:

    As a licensed master electrician and licensed contractor in Ontario you can be darned sure that electricians with these requirements are most certainly qualified. What more do we need to prove it? We don’t need the college of trades. We’ve already been deemed qualified.

  5. Derek Smith says:

    As a design professional who works on larger ICI projects (that is Industrial, commercial and institutional) and who seals drawings and takes liability for them, I will be the first to point to a trade now to walk up the steps of the courthouse with me if they decide in the field to change the way I designed it. Get ready for more lawsuits, bigger lawsuits. After all, since the carpenter and labourer on the job are part of a ‘college of professionals ‘ – I will be happy to point now and say “you ought to have known”

    Time will tell – but this is the dawn of a big mess in Ontario construction. Better get the indemnity plan rolling next. Who pays for that?

  6. Chad Schoppel says:

    I am a Designer/installer and about 10% of the install work I do is fixing up others work. Designs very rarely are installed as they are first drawn. There is a lack of efficiency in the design to permit to installation process. More and more, “middle men” are stepping in to simple collect an economic benefit at our customers expense, while things keep on the path they are on. The Trades are plagued by people who claim to know what they are doing, thankfully the majority do, but the bad apples spoil the bunch and give these white collars a reason to “steal” more from the working class. I am constantly disappointed by the lack of continuity between code enforcement/inspectors and what is actually going on in the installation jungle. The College of Trades sounds like a good idea but will just create another problem on a problem! The building code needs to be clarified/simplified with current technologies and practices, and those who consult it on a day to day basis need to consult it on a day to day basis! Liability should always rest with those involved, if incompetent, penalties should apply… this already exists in our legal system… maybe our legal system need an enema! … this problem runs deep.

    Do what you do well…. or go do something elese! 🙂

  7. Robert Sloan says:

    Wow! I really didn’t think Silverman was that gullible….come to think of it he isn’t. He must be a “Special Interest Patsy”. SHAME!!
    In the electrical industry we fought VERY hard to take away the right of municipalities to license electrical contractors. It was an over 10 year process involving 3 different provincial governments, the OEL (open shop association), the ECAO (union association) and the ESA/ECRA. Now you can check any licensed electrical contractors credentials on line there at Being a Master Electrician does not make you a legal licensed electrical contractor (but it is part of it.). So for Licensed Electrical Contractors we already have this “Check License” in place.
    This only guarantees technical competency, proper insurance and WSIB coverage. A company’s customer service levels or attitudes aren’t licensed, Their business skills, morals or knowledge aren’t licensed. So fortunately for Mr. Silverman, licensed professionals will still end up on his show and yes ALL of them will be C of T graduates.

  8. Rich Eckhardt says:

    In the refrigeration industry we found out a number of years ago that our CFQ’s weren’t worth the paper they’re written on when the TSSA decided that we needed to be licenced to braze, a skill that any tech worth his salt has to have to be employed. No matter, it was and is a licence to print money for that “non profit organization”. The “College” will improve nothing, but you can bet this is only the start of them fishing around in your wallet.

    • Joe Schrei says:

      In principle, I am not one who generally supports the notion of more government involvement, however, there seems to be an excess of negativity towards OCOT, even to the concept of an OCOT like structure.
      Perhaps we need to give it a chance. There is not much else out there that is working or has worked.
      The fees are insignificant when compared to the income of people in the certified trades. Based on a recent meeting with OCOT, it sure sounds like they are serious about enforcement. I have been in the HVAC / refrigeration industry for almost 40 years. Non union, union, employee & employer roles.
      Our trade has been under attack by under licensed or non licensed practitioners for at least three decades. In the GTA, a “non fully compliant contractor” is now the norm, not the exception (ORAC members excluded). Some even hold responsible positions in industry associations & criticize our apprenticeship system as if their non participation is some form of ardent protest instead of what it really is.
      This has undermined a well intentioned, well developed apprenticeship system to the point that the average age of a journeyman is around 45 years, not to mention also in short supply. I have witnessed some very dedicated people, passionate about our industry, spin their wheels for years warning the “stake holders” about this realized outcome.
      If I understand it correctly, OCOT has the mandate that we can use, but without member participation, it could become just another fee grab.
      OCOT should be the clearing house for all related concerns affecting the certified trades. Off hand, I can’t see why any regulatory compliant HVAC/R contractor would have any serious concerns about OCOT, but a non complying contractor, perhaps.

      • Robert Koci says:

        In my mind it is all about the policing. If it can actually get cash contractors out of the industry, then, maybe, they have something.

  9. Chad Schoppel says:

    … speaking as a Residential HVAC Contractor, one of the biggest failures in our profession is the TSSA. I really wish things were run on all levels how the ESA handles the electrical trade.. may not be a perfect system, but it works better than everything else out there. Every trade needs it’s own specific inspection agency that actually looks out for the good guys and deals with the bad! All we need is another organization that preaches gold and gives us “coal”!!!

  10. Mark Dunbar says:

    As Electrical Contractors we already have a organization called ESA/ECRA,
    with an identical type of board as the college of trades is supposed to have.
    If you have a problem with an electrician or maybe you want a qualified Electrical Contractor all you have to do is go to there site and look it up or complain.
    This college is just another government feel good program that will do little to stop the underground economy and clean up the trades.

  11. John White says:

    As a HVAC journeyman for 35 yrs. I have seen what a “not for profit” self sufficient regulatory body turns into in order to generate enough funds to support their infrastructure. (TSSA) via license holder fees, contractor fees and most recently, the absurd Brazing certification program!!
    The Ontario College of Trades will be a similar cash grab. This organization’s main focus will be to generate enough income to support itself and justify its own existence. As a regulatory body it will be disfunctional.
    I cannot wait for their first year of operation and compare their operating expense with the number of completed actions against “unqualified or disreputable tradespeople”. Give me a break………………..
    Its hard to believe that the Ontario government at the same time is trying to create an environment that makes it attractive to young people to join a trade.

  12. Marie Chalmers says:

    This is all well and good but how in the blazes are we going to encourage our young people to even consider going into a trade, let alone apprentice or get a license. Every step is watched, governed and pay, pay, pay. We as a small HVAC company can not afford more interference from people who claim they are doing it for us, to protect us or the consumer. All they are doing is lining their pockets for their retirement. What about ours, ha, that’s a joke, I foresee working till I die.Too much upper management causes businesses to fail.

  13. Greg Paterson says:

    I know this is some what off the topic but last week I payed my TSSA renewal fee
    of $478.00. I probably do a total of ten heating jobs a year ( trying to be semi retired but honest )

    Today I received an invoice from the TSSA for another $100.00 .There was no
    explanation except wording saying Revised Fee Schedules for more info go to

    Ok so far this year – Liability ins. $900.00 ( the minimum I could pay )
    – ODP Card renewal $50.00 + HST
    – WSIB $???
    – Ref and A/C lic due in June
    – Gas Fitter 1 due in June
    – TSSA $578.00
    – Ont College and Trades $120.00

    So on a positive note maybe this will sew up the ducks ass for anybody
    coming behind me……..


    this new fee will just drive the cash market
    it would be real easy to fine the guy working for cash but no one is really looking
    most inspectors do not want to know about the job with no permit or with guys not licenced to do the work as it creates more paper work for them
    I think the consumer has a responsibility on who they hire-and its easy to find the proper tradesman
    time will tell but I really like to see a report in a year or so showing the number of times they actually found someone working without proper liciences and did anything about it

  15. Dean K. says:

    As sent:

    To the editor, Daily Commercial News

    Re: OCOT will help consumers
    Peter Silverman
    contributing columnist
    April 17, 2013–ocot-will-help-consumers

    I would like to reply to this column Peter wrote.

    I would say don’t be so quick to praise the OCOT and the info available in their database of tradespeople. They are just starting up after nearly 4 years of prep time and have yet to receive or pursue any complaints against anybody, as far as anyone knows. As a licensed tradesperson of nearly 30 years, I for one have done probably thousands of calls over the years, this database shows none of that. Sure, I had a few minor complaints along the way, which I tended to and resolved to my clients’ satisfaction. This database shows none of that. As the saying goes “do a thousand jobs right, but get remembered for the one job that you might have screwed up on.”

    The priority as I see it from the college’s track record so far is:
    1) set up mandatory membership fees to be collected from certified tradespeople
    2) set up regulations for which we have to abide by, either new or revamped from previous bureaucracies
    IE: the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities
    3) become BIG BROTHER to watch over us as evidenced by the newly hired 20 “enforcement” officers, with plans for another 130 or so more
    4) fines and levies soon to follow

    This clearly indicates the nature of this beast. Find ways to generate funds to become self sustaining and pay for the OCOT and its salaries. Not-for-profit doesn’t mean that they don’t make money, it just means that they will spend every cent that comes in.

    On their website it has a sentence in a box saying “Take a hands-on approach to your career”. First off, after nearly 30 years in the trade, I think I already have my hands on my career, thank you very much. But exactly how can one do that with this Ontario College of Trades? There is no access at their website to blog, or submit comments, questions or concerns (unrelated to their regulatory comment requests). Recently, I’ve read at a few websites how many people who call or email the contact information from the site get non-answers or a run-around, with extremely long delays on replies, if any. They state self governance in most of their rhetoric, but self governance by and for whom? Just because the appointed bodies may be industry related, it doesn’t mean that I have any power to control the direction the train is going in. They table legislation and ask for comments from a list of their “stakeholders”. Who are these stakeholders and where did the OCOT get their databases from? I certainly wasn’t contacted as a “stakeholder”. They are preparing the meal, serving it to us, and then ask us how we liked it. I want to be able to get in the kitchen and help with the meal plan before it is even cooked. Where is the voting system for this self governing bureaucracy?

    If the Ontario College of Trades is truly for the certified tradesperson, then their first priority should be chasing the uncertified trunk slammer under the table cash only workers. All investigation cases should be presented in an open and transparent manner, and a weekly or monthly report with a synopsis of all investigations and fines and rulings should be posted to the OCOT website. Once this is completed (which in reality will be NEVER as most people want things done on the cheap), then the College’s Gestapo can concentrate on harassing the actual certified worker. If it happens in this sequence, then I wouldn’t be bothered as much over the 600% increase in licensing fees. However in reviewing the legislative priorities as per the OCOT website, I think we all know that the impetus will be chasing after the certified worker as we are on record and easy to find, while the trunk slammer is not. So we are doomed to have to deal with the j’accuse syndrome for some time to come.

    So exactly how does all this help protect the consumer? Especially when it is the consumer that is driving the underground economy?

    My personal opinion on this new Ontario College of Trades? It is going to be the next BIG boondoggle/blunder of the present and past Dalton McGuilty’s fiberal government. E-Health, Ornge, the recent gas plant closure fiasco, wind generation contracts will all pale to what this behemoth will be.


    Dean Kadikoff
    Ottawa, Ontario


  16. M. Schulz says:

    I have been a licensed electrician for over 20 years and am just sick at all of this! Who exactly is “the industry” that was appointed to govern our trade? I didn’t receive a ballot or was asked to vote for who I thought would be a good choice for this position. Going through a listing of OCOT members to find a reputable contractor is such a joke! It would only prove that they have paid their extortion money to the OCOT and not that they will do the job right. I would gladly produce my C of Q wallet card if a customer requested it to prove I am qualified but it comes down to my reputation in the end. Just because the OCOT says that someone is a member doesn’t mean anything in he real world. Who came up with the “membership” fee amount? I think it’s about a %400 increase in fees and I’m just not good with that! Most of the other trades I work with don’t have to pay anything or even join but I don’t have a choice. That’s just not right! This will only backfire and make the cash under the table jobs increase because contractor’s rates will go up to cover the fees and why wouldn’t they? It’s hard to scratch out a living now and any excuse to raise rates across the board because of this would be welcomed by most contractors. Questionable people doing under the table work will still be there and will look better to consumers trying to save a buck! I’m tired of getting railroaded by people that think they know what’s best for us while they have their hand in our pockets. We need to stand together and stop this nonsense before it gets out of hand.

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