Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

Ontario College of Trades continues to violate Federal privacy laws, electrician argues

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Doug Leitch is one of the very few contractors to have closely read the legislation that set up the controversial Ontario College of Trades. The legislation lets the College violate your privacy, and use your own money against your interests, he says.





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Electrician Doug Leitch continues to wage war with the bureaucrats at the Ontario College of Trades, as well as the politicans that established this organization that demands you pay them fees, but offers no training, no accountability to you the contractor, and zero democracy (you don’t get to vote for their Board of Directors, of course – they are appointed, oftentimes by people who haven’t had a tool in their hands for pay in their lives).

Doug, of Carleton Place, ON, got so frustrated with government bureaucrats sticking their hands in tradespeoples’ pockets, that last fall he founded the Ontario Contractor and Small Business Association to lobby for contractors’ rights.

Here is what he emailed us last week. Here he expresses concern about how the Ontario College of Trades is violating contractors’ privacy laws as supposedly guaranteed by Federal law (PIPEDA: the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act).

Fee notices are being sent out by the Ontario College of Trades and its enforcement officers recently hired are patrolling the streets under the guise of public safety. I have taken the time to read the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeships Act thoroughly to see what other little gems are concealed within.

The Act provided for the establishment of an online public register under c.22 s.(42) with very clear stipulations on what information should be included on the register. Reading the itemized inclusions I compared that to the actual information being publicly disclosed on the College of Trades register. Not surprisingly, the public register exposes personal information that wasn’t mandated under the Act – like license number and issue date, OCOT membership numbers, issue dates, expiry dates and more. Perusing the Privacy Policy of the OCOT it states: “YOU AGREE THAT THE COLLEGE MAY COLLECT, USE AND DISCLOSE SUCH PERSONAL INFORMATION AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION…”  

Stop the train! I “agree?” When did I agree? With this knowledge, I sent a letter to OCOT requesting my personal information be removed and that only the information mandated by the Act be disclosed on the online public register. We all know that our license number and issue date clearly disclose our age bracket and would be of no use to the general public but could be used for other purposes. The OCOT removed my license number but still maintains information that wasn’t mandated, so I have sent a complaint to the Privacy Office (under the PIPEDA legislation).

Yes, an argument has been made that being a non-profit, PIPEDA will not apply to the College of Trades. However, reading further into the Act you come across C.22 s.42(1)(5) which states that the [OCOT] Registrar may “provide to any person, on payment of a reasonable charge, a copy of any part of the register.” A commercial activity, therefore PIPEDA should apply and I am awaiting a reply from the office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

If you have been listed by the Ontario College of Trades online, personal information about you is now publically available. Anyone can pay the price and buy that information. You no longer have a right to privacy because apparently, “You agree”. So I advise contractors, do not give any information to OCOT other than what they require for you to keep your Certificate of Qualification. This information can be distributed publically to any party for a price, to anyone wanting a listing of tradespersons for whatever reason.

Another gem that you might notice if you read the Act is a list of the objectives of the organization. Apparently, the only official mandate of enforcement is to “receive and investigate complaints against members” and to “address compliance issues” c.22,s.11(1). With reasonable and probable grounds, the Registrar may appoint an investigator to investigate. So as I see it, if they come knocking, ask for the grounds for such investigation or the complaint.

Anger within the OCOT membership continues to grow – anger over fees, privacy, enforcement, governance. The Ontario College of Trades surely doesn’t “give the industry a greater role in governance, certification and training.” Tradespersons have no voice, there is no accountability or transparency and the membership fees we pay to OCOT are being used against us.

To reach Doug Leitch, email him at  Or call him at 613.913.2863.



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3 Comments » for Ontario College of Trades continues to violate Federal privacy laws, electrician argues
  1. Dean Kadikoff says:

    Well written Doug. Hits on some very accurate points. I would add that, if you review the OCOT Privacy Policy at their website, you will note it does not include or cover the membership, being the tradespeople that are being forced to fund this boondoggle. This policy mentions FIPPA and “the Minister” (provincial ministry), as well, all OCOT employees are under OPSEU, and all upper echelon positions are by provincial government appointment, yet the Ontario Privacy Commissioner’s office states that the OCOT is not under it’s purview. This is not a private company or not-for-profit organization as it purports to be; it is an agency of the provincial government and a ruse by the Liberals to have us fund a department that should be provincially financed.

  2. Joe Greps says:

    I have got bad news for my building trades union.

    I have been a foreman in my local for 25 years and in truth the majority of your members I employ are competent and conscientious.

    But not all of them.

    You know who I am talking about.

    For 25 years I have tolerated them because I learned very quickly that no matter how outrageously poor a members actions may have been if I file a complaint with the local business manager the person defending himself will end up being me – not them. The end result is always the same, you pass the problem person onto the next contractor and find some petty measure of retaliation.

    I guess you thought you were real clever when you put your own political interests ahead of those of every working trades person in this province and lobbied the government into creating this abomination.

    You might not be as smart as you thought.

    You see starting today every time one of your problem members sets new standards in buffoonery I won’t be talking to you, and you won’t be able to protect anyone. I will be filing a complaint with your wonderful new college.

    So the next time one of your fine licensed electrician does not know the proper polarity on standard receptacles (I kid you not) – I will take pictures and document everything, confident of the colleges imminent action as mandated for my compulsory trade. I am sure the fine unbiased members you have planted in adjudicator positions will take firm action. One would shudder to think of the reaction should I have to pass details of otherwise on to Mr. Payne to publish here.

    You created this.

    Now you are going to deal with it.

  3. Victor says:

    Doug Leitch,

    you are NOT alone.

    Please shoot me a line

    The Ontario College of Trades has robbed each of us. They have raped everyone just a little bit. First we got disgusted, spent 5 minutes and posted an angry online comment. And then everyone has swallowed the abuse and paid the fee.

    The OCOT has the law, courts and enforcement powers behind it. So we got scared of becoming an outlaw, of facing fines and courts, the possibility of losing a license and making a living.

    And that was exactly how the Ontario College of Trades has planned and designed it to happen. Divide and rule!

    A bunch of smart bureaucrats – parasites drunk with entitlement and power have won. And tens of thousands of us, hardworking tradespeople have lost!

    Are there any strong and proud people left in Ontario?

    Only something harsh and severe like a hunger strike at the Ontario College of Trades headquarters can attract attention to the injustice and legalized robbery.

    If you and I do not fight this today, tomorrow another regulator will impose another levy on us, and another, and another.

    Impudent bureaucrats are abusing your family. Are you OK with them stealing a $100 a year from your kids?

    Are you OK with all those hungry parasites directly or indirectly abusing every Ontarian and Canada as a whole?

    If you are able of real action, of standing up and saying NO, email me

    Tradespeople paid $120 under the threat of losing license, job and the source of income. I hope the same people would join a group of proud folks who have REALLY stood up against the injustice!

    The petitions, protests and social media have already failed. Time has come for radical action.

    Please spread this (copy & paste), including my email above to other groups and discussions.

    I can not win this alone!


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