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

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


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June 4, 2014 by Steve Payne

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.”

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.


Steve Payne

Steve Payne

Steve Payne is the editor of Canadian Contractor magazine
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7 Comments » for With Ontario voters going to the polls next week, abolition of the College of Trades remains an election issue
  1. Simon Lhad says:

    Membership in COT is automatic if you were a trades person before COT was formed. Why then, does COT demand that an application for membership is filled out and that consent to use personal info is signed???

  2. Questo says:

    Simon, it’s OCOT,( Ontario crooks over trades) not COT, and you are right about the consent issue, it’s for these crooks to sale portion or all ones info to whom they desire without any knowledge of any member. Also for these sick heads to avoid been sued. They want to sale a piece of paper to the trades people and in the exchange make another sale of their info. This OCOT is illegal and corrupted.

    when they got the Compulsory trades people info into their data base, no one have signed any consent, so again to avoid law suite for sure, on the side of the MTCU. The OCOT was set on the tax payers money, many be around 10 million plus the lost of founds the MTCU let go. Another sale for the Liberal cronies on the cost of the people.

    This issue didn’t come up on the political debate, like so many others. that debate should spill all the wrong doings from the Liberals, no mater how long will take. The debate was another wash up bla bla with sorry all over the place.

    Anyone with a sound mind will not take the sorry about the gas plant scandal, they will ask these crooks to quit, ”it was a mistake” that large, and no one lost their jobs, amazing. The Liberals and NDPs apparently are toasted.

  3. Marten Burghgraef says:

    OK so the PC want to abolish the OCOT but I heard they also want to cut teachers and nurses as well. Hate to lose these people as well. What do I do? Who do I vote for.? Does not look like the NDP is going anywhere fast.

  4. Questo says:

    I think you missed some real issues about the PC party, Tim and others from the PC said, those already getting into retirement would not be replaced, unless there is a real need for it. I believe you didn’t get the facts right, there are a lot of people in all government departments doing nothing, just getting paid, to be at the job location, and all of us are paying for on our tax dollars.

    Yes The PC want to review the school programs, I don’t blame them at all. Not just schools the whole government sector should be review, to put a stop to the red tape cash cows. The OCOT should never be there in first place like so many others.

    Now you can vote for to whom you want, you have a free choice make up your mind in the best of your own judgment.

  5. Bob2 says:

    I’ve done a lot of contracting for government over the years and I can say without a doubt that 1/3 of government workers would not even be noticed as missing if they lost their job, there is so much dead wood in government that it’s actually irritating to see tax $ being wasted on people who have no actual work duties but collect a pay cheque each week.

  6. Al Doucette says:

    To a point,my understanding of OCOT was to make the hack mechanics more responsible for their decisions and actions,there are so many hacks out there with red stickers that consider it all a joke and bend the laws to suit them AND Employers,no I don’t need to pay more for licenses as I have been pulling wrenches for 44 years. I am actively looking for a restoration job,hotrods,classic cars and motorcycles have been a life long passion for me. For what they charge for paperwork yearly now is crap,for what they supply is nothing.Another purpose was to rid the trade of unlicensed people doing work that should be done by a person with a license,however there are alot of talented people without licenses that can hold their own.Undoubtedly it is a cash grab to justify someones purpose as emissions tests are.All emissions tests are to be in the gear beside neutral, some Jaguars had to be tested in the second gear beside neutral,I have to ask,what gear is that car driven in? Defeats the purpose I think…..

  7. james jones says:

    Had the college of trades visit me and try to extort me , I will remain doing out of scope work because I am not paying these scammers over three thousand dollars to have a piece of paper that says they approve that I know what I’m doing . A monkey could pass these tests ,money money money , all while claiming to be a non profit organization …