Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

Why go through 9,000 hours of apprenticeship if a bum off the street can make the same money?

Canadian Contractor Business

According to Edward, the Ontario College of Trades can help prevent a "bum off the street" from making the same money in the trades as people who have in a lot of hard work to earn their credentials

The mandatory fees you now have to pay to the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT), while teeing off most contractors who post on here, does have its defenders.

One of them, Edward, posted this about the OCOT yesterday:

“As a self employed plumber, I embrace these changes somewhat in my trade. We have plumbing companies who operate in the Toronto area who employ, as an example, painters or bartenders. Slap on a company logo and stick them in a truck to snake and repair drains, thaw pipes and repair them, all of which takes (business) away from licensed plumbers. Why are these companies allowed to conduct business? If the Ontario College of Trades wants to make a level playing field, all plumbing – which includes snaking of drains or repairs along with thawing of pipes, etc. – should also be enforced to be conducted by licensed or apprentice plumbers. These sales people – which is all they are – are stealing work from licensed individuals. What’s the point of going through 9000 hours and 5 years of an apprenticeship if a bum off the street can get into a company truck and snake and repair “plumbing systems” and make the same money a licensed plumber would make?”



Stories continue below

Print this page

Related Stories

17 Comments » for Why go through 9,000 hours of apprenticeship if a bum off the street can make the same money?
  1. joe says:

    Amen to that Edward!
    Same problem in the HVAC & R trade.
    Takes at least 5 years, seemingly endless night classes & (3) full time stints at college to get the C of Q & C of A, plus additional time for the applicable fuel licenses. Post C of Q training is ongoing for the length of your career.
    The GTA is full of illegals in our market with nothing more than a G2.
    In our world that is referred to as a BBQ mechanic license. TSSA leaves them alone as long as they have the G2. Our trade is expecting to see their heads roll.
    At least that is what OCT is promising. We are willing to pay what amounts to about 3 hours of pay per year to see this happen. If any G2’s out there don’t understand this, I have about 3,500 brothers & anyone of them would be willing to explain it.
    After having our trade messed with for so many years, the current attitude is “open season” on the bad guys.

  2. Joe Greps says:

    The OCoT claims it is going to do all kinds of things, they may cure Cancer as well, anyone who suggests otherwise probably hates puppies.

    Not holding my breath, we have sen this kind of thing before, e-health etc. – lots of claims – zero results.

    From my review when I look at the budget they operate on it appears to be small for their mandate and largely swallowed by bureaucracy – this the claimed “independent ” College that quietly took a $5M handout from the government this year…

    Would love to see Steve get a College rep interviewed in the spring after their first year and ask exactly what they have accomplished.

    How many members have actually been suspended for shoddy practices? (Beyond unlicensed tradespeople the original post references, IMHO some of our own members are the bigger problem. How many of us even get threw a day without seeing workmanship of our peers that is appalling if not outright dangerous? I think we all know a few tradespeople who might at best be described as a working threat to society – we all know it is a problem so what have they done?)

    What is the delinquency rate for fees? (Seems like a LOT from a quick review of the membership directory) How many retirees are participating? (I can attest first hand they can be a huge asset to a contractor in a labour crunch, but can we really expect them to pay $1300+ over a decade because we might have a couple weeks work?)

    Are they charging red seal tradesmen from out of province to work here? Isn’t that completely contradictory to the intention of the program? Do they really think other provinces won’t reciprocate? Do they understand how much tradespeople travel and how big a potential cost this is likely to become?

    What is the basis for compulsory trades selection? Why are large trades like Hairdressing made compulsory but small trades like Instrumentation and Control that have absolutely critical competency requirements (think setting up control valves in a nuclear plant) are not? Why are the only trades being re-evaluated for this (Sprinkler-fitters, Millwrights?) larger trades? Seems a lot more about money then common sense, is this how they plan to make up for the $5M they came up short last year?

    (I think this alludes to one of the fundamental failings of this College – they claim to be critical to ensuring standards of trades but only interested in recognizing a selection of them. It is a ridiculous position – having a competent iron-worker secure a beam properly on the 50th floor of a building is every damn bit as important as anything any other trade does. In truth any trade where poor workmanship represents a risk to the public needs to be compulsory – strikes me as a very contradictory position for the College to hold claiming on one hand to be critical to ensuring trade standards – but then not doing so for many of them)

    What resources have they directed towards your professed mandate of promoting trades with young people? – It may be a worthy pursuit but why do they feel the cost of this should be a burden to the very people who actually work in the trades? One would think if anyone, they have done their part. Isn’t this something better left to the government and industry? They seem to be doing it anyways.

    Do you really think the College is able to rule on apprenticeship ratios in an unbiased manner? While the Tories this week suggested unions were manipulating the College into maintaining high apprenticeship ratios to create demand – I would suggest most all working members would guiltily admit to fostering the same view. We like being in demand, every one of us. So if the majority of the membership feels this way and you claim to represent their interests….

    When will members be given a chance to vote on leadership positions?

    If a tradesman has declined to join your College what legal grounds do you hold for continuing to list them on your webpage?

  3. Trades people don't drink the wrath wine says:

    About the legal grounds to hold a list of trades people in the OCOT public webpage, could be very problematic. In special for those without consent their info was made public, and the OCOT forcing them to pay the corrupted payment or loose the certification. Every away of looking in to this matter, indicates very soon a class action law suite will take place.

    All trades people should be asking to the LG and the attorney general of Ontario to stop this none cense OCOT before this gets out of hand.

    To many bills to create side agencies to collect money in apparent legal form,
    which leaves suspicious of the legislature of Ontario was used for this corruption rings. That leaves the ESA/ECRA, OCOT and others as monopolies without competition. And most likely unconstitutional, I believe none of these agencies will pass in the supreme court of justice, because is their way or the highway.

    ESA/ECRA called themselves Electrical Authority really? A lot of ESA inspectors aren’t capable of doing electrical work, some have minimum years of experience, and some act like astronauts pumped in a air suite.

    Some came from factories, only did electrical maintenance, resetting electrical devices and when comes to weekend repairs they never show up.

    Some of them even forget the sites they suppose to approve and for cover their ass’s they call hydro to replace the power.

    Can you see the irony here?

    Money comes first then safety, That’s why all this bullshit should be abolishes and be locally, more competition, inspection first payments after, like any other job.

    Those MPPs introduce this bill in 2009 also the ones served on the MTCU, haven’t done anything possible to avert this wrath wine, for the trades people, should be investigated. Also thanks the NDP for voting in favor of this bill, the same wrath wine is now on their tables at the present time.

    If elections on this next spring take place, on the budget failure, should the NDP use trades business frontage and trades people front lawns to put their display signs, even in front lawns which people can’t vote.

    When comes to fight the trades tax, the MPPs from the NDP always ignored, meetings have been asked about this issue,” we will call you back” we never heard from them again. The wrath wine should be in abundance for them, those voted for the demise of a lot of hard working people, be drunk on this wrath wine to the point falling of grace. Most likely will happen.

    Thanks for the ex MTCU, Liberal MPP Glen Murray for this wrath wine on all of us, compulsory trades, should the same wrath wine be fed to you and your cronies, by the gallons per minute, should be abundant, and to all of the Liberals and their lobbyists, this wrath wine should never stop in your mounts.

    Thanks for the unseen economic mess yet to come, Hey Liberals and NDPs do you hold certifications of destruction? Should you be accountable personally for this mess? Should us the trades people ask all of you, for certification before voting for you? should a evaluation, competence and morals be performed way before on you, before become MPPs? Should the OCOT be after you for certification? After all what OCOT preach should be imposed on you.

    Apparently, the Queens Park can be compared to a car on three wheels, and this car is going no where, and the engine is running in low gas.

  4. We stand brothers says:

    Hello to all certified electricians in Ontario, In special those have ESA/ECRA master license and contractors license.

    Now ask you selves if ESA/ ECRA allowed you to get their programs only with membership cards, have they ask you for certification? Did they allow you as an apprentice, I just wonder, or show us a Costco card is fine. What a mess, who will fix it? Should all of them be abolished?

    Why they are allowing none certified electricians to do work now?

    Its a compulsory trade must have certification and up dated.

    If you loose certification, their cards are void, now if anyone have the OCOT membership card assumptions are, both are void.

    You have paid $135.60 to lose your certification, isn’t this ironic?

    In reality you are not even an apprenticeship, got think about that brothers.

    If you are in this situation you are working illegally with the blessing of ESA/ECRA. Safety and consumers protection yeah, turning legal trades people into a joke of illegals. The OCOT isn’t a government agency, it is private business go it. We all should march there and demand this bullshit to be closed, and the ESA/ECRA too. Don’t comply with all of them should be a goo idea.
    Electrical inspections at the city level, after all building inspections belong to whom?

    If the MOL get in real business, how fast the OCOT inspectors will run? I believe if is enough pressure from the trades people, they will be forced to act and turn this matter around.

    Can the employers to whom you work fire you for none certification status?

    I believe they can, under the labour laws, working with a membership card assuming certification holders. For sure the employers will find their way in, and fire those they don’t like, I mean the undesirables, either under the union or private, for just cause. will the OCOT defend you in this loophole possibility?
    Why the OCOT want employers in their membership? I think you know the answer.

    I already told OCOT this shit and a lot more on emails and on the phone, they keep pushing me to the claims department, with no answers. I am about to go face to face with them and take with me a group of trades people and filmed.
    Set the out come on the TV, you tube and any media outlet I can get hands on it.
    The more doing this the better.

    You have to ask your selves why the union LIUNA pull out from the OCOT?
    For sure they know where the rabbit hole leads into it.

    Is this a concerns you?

    Called what you want, I think this shit is a big conspiracy, and blessings from all sides, until the money got short, then the rats start to run.

    • Bev Nees says:

      ON THIS.

  5. Lee Boland says:

    To all my fellow tradespeople,

    I completely sympathise with you all. Try being a carpenter….how can we compete with any joe blow that has a tool belt and a hammer?
    What happens when an unqualified person builds a deck. It collapses and someone is hurt or worse (examples everywhere).
    Anyone is allowed to build a house, building inspectors offer some saftey margin, but things get missed all the time.
    Sadly my only hope is to lower my rates, as a carpenter already the lowest paid trade I believe.
    Or maybe hope for some irony and that is to have another bloodsucking entity come to my rescue. Ie the insurance companies stipulating that unless all work is done by qualified tradespeople that the insurance is null and void.
    I’m not suggesting that there aren’t people out there who are very good at their work that don’t have tickets (grandfathered in or simply challenge the IP).
    So am I opening another can of worms? Or contemplating doing a deal with the insurance devils???
    Just my thoughts.

    • Joe says:

      Hi Lee

      I am pretty certain insurance companies already have that covered.
      I think it’s called non disclosure.
      They can sell you liability insurance without asking to see your qualifications.
      I have asked this question & was told that insurance companies are not expected to have knowledge of all applicable regulations. You are expected to be truthful.
      This means if you are non licensed & operating illegally in a certified trade & a claim is filed, they do not have to pay.
      This likely depends on the amount involved, whichever is less, the claim or their legal costs.

      • Lee Boland says:


        Thanks for that comment. This could help in discussions with potential clients trying to save money by cutting corners on both quality of workmanship and material.


  6. Diana says:

    I can understand that level of frustration, especially with your school. I believe if they are charging you high tuition and requiring such intense and lengthy internships, they ought be part of the licensing board of similar. I’m from MA, USA and we have similar issues.

    I ask [and I don’t know all my facts so please forgive my ignorance] but with a system you feel isn’t fair, why do you think the workers earning the same $$ are unethical? If they can find work doing the less skilled jobs, wouldn’t they be silly not to work? Is it a loophole?

    Local skilled laborers in MA are allowed to do certain portions of tasks not specifically in their trade, but up to a point. Then a licensed contractor must be hired. They would be similar to your situation. Now there ARE laborers who go beyond what they should do to save homeowners money and red tape. Not all are skilled enough.. Maybe that’s what you are referring to and that makes sense.

    Let me ask you this. In FL and MA tile layers aren’t required to be licensed. In MA tile setters repair tool tile, floors, jacuzzi, etc. If they move to FL to retire and just repair pool tiles they cannot in FL. In FL they have to be licensed pool contractors-they own pool companies. What do you think about that kind of situation? Thanks and good luck.

  7. Sue says:

    Yes I had a small issue in my basement that turned into a 30.000 rip off job. College of trades are looking into it because no one was licensed. Also. taking them to small claims. And in touch with consumers protection any other advice. would appreciate. Thanks. Sue

    • Avatar photo Steve Payne says:

      Sue, would you feel comfortable providing details on the rip off? You are aware the the Ontario College of Trades has no jurisdiction over MANY types of trades that would work on a “basement reno.” For example, they only have jurisdiction over plumbers, electricians, sheet metal workers, and heating and ventilation mechanics. (Coincidentally trades that already had their own regulatory bodies before, but I digress….) Sorry to hear you got taken for a ride and hope you can get legal redress and compensation.

  8. Paul David Aquin says:

    “The licence is only as good as the person behind it.” as I quote myself….. BUT… they don’t have licences. I call these want a be trades people, POACHERS OF THE TRADE….
    I’ve encountered these “fly by night” individual’s… that have full time day jobs and install so called plumbing systems, repairs, alterations at night and on weekends….And this happens from Hamilton, to Madoc, to Niagara Falls. When will it end???
    It is easier for the authority having jurisdiction to control the licenced trades person, than to chase the non-licenced POACHERS.

  9. Adam Macintyre says:

    I am disgusted with handymen and fire fighters stealing work from my trade, when will you fight for us and protect our skill

  10. Stewart Nielsen says:

    Why should a person have to go through years of schooling to do a job a trained monkey can do? If people have the finances and knowledge to do simple jobs like snaking a drain, then let them. They should however be forced to get business licences and liability insurance.

  11. Jeff says:

    many qualified tradesmen (plumbers/ electricians) employ unqualified people (unskilled immigrants, cheap labour, etc.) so the company is owned by qualified and certified tradespeople and the hands on work is [done] by anyone who can “monkey see monkey do but has no clue”. Its one one thing to have ones offsider/apprentice do the simpler jobs but another when these [unqualified people] start doing large projects in a shonky manner.. they are not apprenticed, they are not going to trade school, and don’t understand building codes pertaining to their area of work. just look at what happened to the dry walling/ painter industry.. even the construction industry!

  12. Shanon says:

    I’ve seen soo called quality tradesmen in plumbing make shoddy repairs and very questionable sloppy soldering of copper joints.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.