Canadian Contractor

Storm clouds over new Ontario skilled trades regulator

November 29, 2021
By Council of Ontario Construction Associations
The Council of Ontario Construction Associations has some concerns about opacity and lack of industry involvement in the rollout of Skilled Trades Ontario, which will replace the much-maligned Ontario College of Trades in January. Here’s an excerpt from its newsletter outlining the worries, which look a lot like the troubles that sunk the last regime.
[An earlier version of this article attributed this statement to the Ontario Construction Secretariat. Canadian Contractor regrets the error.]
There should be no question that our provincial government is fully committed to having its new organization for the skilled trades, Skilled Trades Ontario (STO), up and operational on January 1, 2022.  (STO will essentially be the Ontario College of Trades renamed, defanged and neutered and without any regulatory authority.)  Regulations are being transferred from the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act (OCTAA) over to the new statute called Building Opportunities in the Skilled Trades Act (BOSTA) pretty much verbatim.  There have been two tranches of regulations posted to the Regulatory Registry for this transfer process and a third is expected anytime now.    
We have every assurance that a Registrar, a Chair, and sufficient board members will be in place on January 1, 2022 in order to have a functioning organization and the staff at OCoT have been working to make sure this happens smoothly and seamlessly. It’s believed that remaining staff members from OCoT except for the 30 inspectors who have been laid off, will be transferred over to STO or the Ministry of Labour Training and Skills Development.   
What remains a mystery is the names of the individuals who have been recruited to fill the Registrar, Chair and Board Member roles. Normally apprenticeship system stakeholders would be asked to submit the names of interested and qualified individuals for these positions and the government would make their selections from a pool of candidates. To the best of our knowledge, no stakeholders that we are aware of has been asked to submit names.  We haven’t even heard rumours of the names and haven’t been invited to participate in any pools. 
One of OCoT’s greatest flaws was its governance model and its representative Board of Governors. It is our hope that the government understands this serious defect and has selected individuals to serve on the STO board based on a matrix of governance competencies.  The representative model that pits union against non-union, LIUNA against the Building Trades would simply be a repeat of the mistake of the past.   
Other unknowns include:   
  • How will members of individual trades get together to discuss issues in their trades and make recommendations to the board of STO? 
  • Will there be Trade Boards similar to those under OCoT  
  • How will changes of a trade’s classification be made 
Some of these issues were supposed to be addressed in the report from the second phase of the Michael Sherrard Expert Panel work. It’s our understanding that that report was submitted months ago but it has never been made public. Perhaps these issues are being left up to STO to determine once it is up and running. 

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1 Comment » for Storm clouds over new Ontario skilled trades regulator
  1. Mark Mitchell says:

    Not surprising that a construction union would be upset that the college of trades is being dismantled. Their chance for increased power and control is gone, replaced by a free, self governing market. This is the time to separate the construction trades from the rest, and let the rest figure out how they want to lobby the government for changes to their individual occupations. There are plenty of groups (like HRAI for HVAC, for example) that are capable of elevating the status and professionalism of their members, without forcing them to pay a bunch of government grifters to invent new ways of taxing tradespeople.
    This new STO should be responsible for arranging trade school training, and administering exams for the CofQ. Period. We do not need to pay for a licence every year. Once the certificate is issued it should be treated like a high school diploma or college degree, not taxed every year. BC and Alberta are leading the way with this policy.
    Lets use this new agency to fuel interest in the skilled trades, not to punish people and enrich trade unions

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