Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

Tony Dean, former head of Ontario Public Service, to "review" College of Trades

Canadian Contractor Advisor canada Capacity Governance Service

What will a man who has risen to the highest-pinnacle of government civil-service bureaucracy recommend, re: the Ontario College of Trades? We are guessing a massive expansion of its mandate. And we guess he will keep the North Korea-like dictatorship of its unelected board of directors.

Editor’s Note: This is an opinion piece.

The Ontario Government has yet again done what most governments do when they get very heavily criticized for a policy – they’ve appointed a “review” through an “advisor.”

The heavy criticism has been from contractors re: The Ontario College of Trades (OCOT). The “College” demands you make payments to it, simply to maintain the C of Q you already earned through another regulatory body, and it is building itself a giant bureaucracy on Bay Street, some of the most expensive real estate in North America, and looking to rope in nearly every trade out there, it appears.

The “review” will be of the Ontario College of Trades “scope of practice,” which means, in English, who should have to join it.  Our prediction: Everyone, over time, in every “trade” in Ontario.

The “advisor” doing the “review” of OCOT is former Birmingham, UK, machine-tool operator Tony Dean, who, in spite of his on-the-tools, blue-collar origins is now one of the most influential bureaucrats/academics in the massive industry-unto-itself that is the Ontario public sector. Dean is the former head of the Ontario Public Service.  We can already predict how he’s going to feel about a quasi-governmental bureaucracy like the OCOT.  He’s going to love it and he’s going to empower it. Right now, four major trades in our industry MUST join OCOT and pay its fees: Electricians, Plumbers, Sheet Metal Workers and HVAC mechanics.

Mr. Dean will be well aware of all those types of trades who have escaped being herded into OCOT’s pen.

Drywallers, tapers, tile and terrazzo workers, roofers, window and door installers, framers, finish carpenters, painters, etc., we believe Mr. Dean wants you.

Here’s the press release from Queen’s Park.

Maybe Mr. Dean will recommend that the College hold open elections to determine who sits on its Board of Directors. Don’t hold your breath.

In her 2014 Plan for Ontario, Premier Kathleen Wynne made a commitment to support the success of the College through the appointment of a special advisor to conduct a review. As a result, Ontario has appointed former Secretary of Cabinet and Head of the Ontario Public Service, Tony Dean, to review key areas of Ontario’s skilled trades system that fall within the mandate of the Ontario College of Trades (the College). Dean will review issues related to the scopes of practice – or type of work performed in a trade, as well as the process for determining whether certification should be compulsory or voluntary to practice a trade.

“As with any new organization — and given its unique mandate — the College has also taken this first year to learn and identify areas for improvement. Based on our own observations, feedback from industry stakeholders and from comments from our first independent trade classification review panel decision, we believe there is an opportunity to improve some of our processes with regards to determining scopes of practice and trade classification reviews,” said the College’s CEO and Registrar David Tsubouchi.

The trade classification review process will be paused during his work but the College will continue to fulfill its mandate while this work is underway. Dean will consult with stakeholders and receive support from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and the College of Trades, but will function independently of both. The appointment begins in October 2014 and will continue for one calendar year. He will then deliver his report to the College of Trades and the ministry. The College will have the opportunity to review his findings and implement key recommendations.

Dean currently teaches at the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto. He advises governments on public service reform and building capacity for policy-making and delivery. In 2010, Dean led an expert panel review of Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, and in 2013 completed a governance review of OMERS, one of Canada’s largest pension plans.

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