Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

With Ontario voters going to the polls next week, abolition of the College of Trades remains an election issue

Canadian Contractor Automotive Car Restoration

TV auto restoration star David Grainger is the latest high-profile tradesperson to swing his hammer at the Ontario College of Trades "tax collectors"

With the Ontario election taking place next week, June 12, the abolition of the Ontario College of Trades continues to be a key part of the Progressive Conservative’s platform for apprenticeship reform in the province. The Liberals, who created it, have been silent on the issue. The NDP has had little to say about it.

The “Stop the Trades Tax” Campaign, consisting of a coalition of construction and trades-related firms, continues to push the issue in the media. They issued a press release on Monday welcoming the newest member of the coalition: world-renowned vintage and classic car restorer David Grainger. He is the founder of The Guild of Automotive Restorers and the subject of the History Channel TV program, “Restoration Garage.”

“The College of Trades must be abolished,” said Grainger. “My early experiences with the College of Trades have convinced me beyond any doubt that the College of Trades’ only purpose is to collect taxes from tradespeople and that it will actually set back the skilled trades in Ontario.”

“We are pleased to welcome someone of Grainger’s distinction to the Stop the Trades Tax Campaign,” said Karen Renkema, chair of the campaign. “[His] world-renowned skill as a restorer and his personal story of entanglements with the cop-like bureaucrats from the Ontario College of Trades makes clear the lunacy of the College and its mandate.”

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Last month, we ran a report from Alec Caldwell, founder of CARAHS (Canadian Association of Renovators and Home Services), that one particular Ontario College of Trades enforcement officer had stationed himself at a Tim Hortons outlet and was asking contractors for their credentials at this location.

Meanwhile, the College’s board of directors has refued to abandon the process of examining whether carpenters and drywallers in the province should be forced into “compulsory” status: meaning that anyone doing carpentry or drywall work, without a College of Trades certification, would be, essentially, publicly-labelled as “uncertified” and subject to possible fines or jobsite shutdowns.  The only way to get that certification, for these trades, should this pass the College’s (self-appointed and unelected) “Review Committee” would be for contractors to go back to school and/or to join up with a union.

Critics of the College have called this an attempt to issue “pink slips” to tens of thousands of hard working renovators and builders – even those highly-skilled independent operators who have done superb-quality carpentry and drywall without papers in those trades for decades. Canadian Contractor has previously reported that this process was “on hold.” It has not been permanently abandoned. The election is next week, June 12.

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