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Just… wow. Check out this incredibly misleading video from the Ontario College of Trades

Steve Payne   

Videos Permits & Legal

The Ontario College of Trades' (OCOT) latest video makes some extremely dubious claims about how this new bureaucracy is helping to "protect" the public from tradespeople without OCOT credentials. Maybe someone should call in famed consumer advocate Peter Silverman to investigate. Oh, wait a minute, he's already on the case... for the College.


I’m not sure what to say about this, except… WOW.

In this video, produced by the Ontario College of Trades and linked into their latest newsletter, well-known consumer advocate Peter Silverman, among other interviewees, warns the public about unscrupulous tradespeople and how important it is to check any trades person’s credentials before you hire them. And the best way to do that, the video implies, is to go online if see if any particular trades person is a member of the College.


How does the Ontario College of Trades get the cojones to make such claims? If a private sector organization made such plainly false statements about what their products can actually do, without any evidence to back up their claims, they might find themselves in some serious trouble. But the Ontario College of Trades will probably face NO repercussions for this highly misleading video. It’s above all that.

It would take me a while to list all of the misleading statements about the Ontario College of Trades and what it really does in this video. But let’s just start with the headline to this video: “Are You Protected?”

You have got to be kidding me.

What kind of “Protection” (though I’m really tempted to add the word “Racket” to that phrase) is the OCOT really offering to the public? Virtually no protection whatsoever, because the College cannot guarantee, indeed has no mandate or mechanisms, to ensure that a trades person is competent. The OCOT is not in the business of inspecting a contractor’s work. The OCOT teaches no courses and conducts no examinations.

What the College excels at, however, is asking you to pay them: $130 annually for trades already-licensed-by-other-bodies, half for apprentices.If it gets these surcharges to what you already paid another organization, OCOT will put your name on their “Public Register” (sounds so legitimate, doesn’t it?). And they will put “Active” or “Expired” next to your name, depending on (1) Whether you’ve paid and (2) Whether you owe them the current year’s payment. And they will put various other ominous comments next to your name if they have decided to discipline you for some reason. This is a paper thin, almost non-existent guarantee of “Protection” for the public as far as the likely quality of your work. But this video will lead you, and the public to believe otherwise. Watch it and see. It’s a disgrace.

That’s bad enough. But the most disturbing aspect of this video is the cheap and nasty way the OCOT tries to cover its butt at the end of the video, by quickly scrolling, down the screen, a listing of the 22 “Compulsory Trades” that are required to join OCOT. Talk about an afterthought. In my opinion, a very calculated afterthought.

Because the fact is, the majority of tradespeople and contractors in the home renovation and homebuilding industry are not required, by law, to join the Ontario College of Trades. But that’s OK for the OCOT because (how wonderful for their revenues) you can always join as a Voluntary member. And if you decline to do so, you can expect to be maligned by further fear-mongering efforts like this. Until you pay up and get your name added to their holy list. Or off the virtual blacklist that your absence implies, in other words.

And so, this video will undoubtedly cost some contractor the next job they try to pitch to a homeowner. Not because they are an illegal operator, but simply because they may not have registered with the Ontario College off Trades because they are not required to do so. Where is a clear and unambiguous disclaimer to that fact, in this video? That little scroll of the Compulsory Trades? That’s utterly unacceptable. Very few members of the public are going to closely examine that list. Not when they’ve already had the fear of God put into them by the two minutes of paranoia-inducing hysteria beforehand.

And even when it comes to the 22 Compulsory Trades, the video is equally outrageous. In the video, the OCOT’s compliance boss, Bob Onyschuk, tells a story about something like water being substituted for brake fluid by some shady mechanics. Are we really to believe that only the founding of the OCOT, three years ago, has finally stopped unlicensed mechanics across the province from using water in place of brake fluid? Seriously?

Again, this is just offensive.

This video doesn’t just insult tradespeople, it outright lies to the people of Ontario about the degree of “protection” it offers consumers (which is effectively zero) and it carelessly (and I would say knowingly) defames tens of thousands of honest, professional tradespeople.

I wonder when someone is going to report this false advertising by the Ontario College of Trades to one of the other regulatory bodies in Ontario and Canada that really DO protect the consumer? Or how about the Advertising Standards Council?

OCOT: Shame on you.


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19 Comments » for Just… wow. Check out this incredibly misleading video from the Ontario College of Trades
  1. dave says:

    Steve was the electrician not mike Holmes ( God of wiring ). That should help the trades to. We have to many brain dead A holes trying to prove their worth.
    It will soon be an embarrassment to say were canadian.

  2. ChimneyGirl says:

    And where exactly IS this Public Registry so we can look at it. AND it is the consumer that needs to be EDUCATED on their Contractor. Why are the TRUE and HONOURABLE Tradespeople being punished for being Straight Shooters because there are a few bad guys and gals out there….Smarten up OCOT, we are not your Financiers!!

  3. Vaughn Bender says:

    Mike Holmes is on there. His expires April 08 2015


    • Avatar photo Steve Payne says:

      Thanks for looking that up, Vaughn. Funny, I just looked that up this morning, and noted Mr. Holmes’ registration. True Story: We had the (then) Registrar and CEO of the Ontario College of Trades, Robert Guthrie, into our offices, about two years ago, to address a roomful of contractors (members of the Canadian Association of Renovators and Home Services, CARAHS). It was part of the OCOT’s travelling roadshow to whip up support for their pending launch. Someone asked Mr. Guthrie if Mike Holmes would soon be seconded to promote the College. Mr. Guthrie replied enthusiastically, “OH, IF ONLY WE COULD AFFORD HIM!” (Mr. Guthrie himself was a $180,000 a year man.) I have no knowledge of any discussions that the OCOT had with Mr. Holmes, and there may have been none. And, yes, the Registrar said it with an accompanying laugh. But the looks on the faces of the contractors in the room, at that moment, was, generally, a shaking of weary heads.

  4. Steve another fine article on our exposing of the OCOT.

    My beef is: They (OCOT) talks about contractors freelyin this video, but only seem to show licensed trades, in order to keep them right on their propaganda video.

    They should be saying, licences skilled trades, but they don’t. They keep hitting on the word CONTRACTORS.

    A home renovation contractor, a handy man, a constructor of a residential home are not under OCOT (yet) but they (OCOT) gives the perception to the public that everyone is under OCOT, all contractors.

    This is misleading the public in my opinion and is totally wrong.

    They hire and I’ll assume pay Silverman for his video services, like another Mike Holmes approach!!!

    How can Silverman talk this talk, when OCOT fed him the info. If he was a real investigative reporter, he would investigate and get balance. This of course would not suit OCOT’s purpose.

    I personally believe Silverman has lost his credibility with this video.

    He should stick to what he knows about. For the OCOT, as you said Steve, how can they come up with this claim.

    Maybe we need to report them to the consumers agencies.

    Keep them coming Steve.

    Alec at CARAHS

    • Avatar photo Steve Payne says:

      Alec, thanks for your comment. The man in the video who uses the word contractor five times is Frank Cozzolino, Solutions Electrical and Maintenance Services, Brampton, Ontario. He is one of Mike Holmes’ “go to” electricians. It would have been helpful, to put it mildly, if Mr. Cozzolino had used the term “certified electrician” rather than “contractor.” At least he would have been talking, then, about a trade that legally requires OCOT membership under the College of Trades and Apprentices Act. That he doesn’t qualify which trade he is talking about is part of the overall attack on all non-OCOT-registered contractors in the video. I’m not suggesting Mr. Cozzolino meant it that way, but the OCOT surely knew – how could they not – how his remarks would be interpreted by the general public. And they simply need to pull this video down before if they want to maintain any ethical credibility whatsoever. That is the least of their concerns, I suspect. Our independent contractor readers can’t even run for office on the OCOT board of directors if they want to change the direction of this assault on their reputations by this organization. Their board is appointed. And not by the tradespeople of this province. But by politicians, public policy bureaucrats and unions. Even the Ontario Medical Association, even the nurses, even the teachers, are democratic enough to run THEIR “regulatory authorities” through an open vote. Not so at the OCOT.

  5. Mark Mitchell says:

    This video offends me in so many ways I can’t even puke, so I’ll have to laugh instead. The list of compulsory trades at the end made me laugh even more. I will certainly help them in their endeavor to protect the public by personally visiting all the homeowners in the neighbourhood, and telling everyone to check the list before hiring a hoisting engineer to work at their house!

  6. Ken says:

    I doubt the Mike Holmes on the list is the “Mighty Mike Holmes,ALL SHALL LOVE ME AND DESPAIR”. Jump in any time Shell Busey

    It’ll be his son Mike Jr. OCOT shakes down all apprentices for membership if they need to join or not.
    Now if it is Mike Jr. it should read apprentice carpenter.
    Yup OCOT are very ignorant of the trades in general.

    This organization had amazing potential when it first came up all those years ago,just think of the possibilities….. But instead it’s a corrupt Union biased white collar example of the payback you get from having friends in high places. It’s the friends and supporters of the liberal party retirement project.

    McGuinty says: Let’s build an organization that offers nothing to its members,does nothing to further trades in their continuing education,offers nothing in the development of the trades as a whole sector and the trades can pay for it or we can blacklist them while my friends milk the system with bloated wages,benefits and Union protection.
    “Brilliant!” Say the pigs at the trough. “Oink! Oink!”

    Did the liberals base their whole agenda for the last decade on “Animal Farm” by George Orwell?

  7. Lorne Lowry says:

    Well, Gee…. I have been (Interprovincially) licensed in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning in ONTARIO since 1976. In the 1980’s and 1990’s I served on the College Curriculum Advisory Committee for Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Apprenticeship in Ontario, under the auspices of the Ministry of Colleges and Universities…

    In that role, I assisted in writing the new apprenticeship curriculum for apprenticeship training in Ontario and assisted in writing and “proofing” the test banks of “level examinations” ie. Basic. Intermediate, and Advanced for in-school examination and level exemption examinations.

    I came across this web site today and checked to see what would come up when I entered my name. Curiously… nothing did come up. How accurate is this system that purports itself to be the be all and end all for the public to chek to see if their hired “technicians” are as qualified as they present themselves to be? Just curious…. By the way, my certification dues are not in arrears.

    • Avatar photo Steve Payne says:

      Lorne, perhaps you could send the OCOT another cheque to restore your clearly impeccable credentials to the public record. I think that’s what they have in mind.

  8. Joe says:

    When OCOT started a couple of years ago, they sent me a nice letter saying that I was granted automatic “membership” into the College as I am a journeyman electrician. A short time later, they requested that I fill out a membership application and sign their privacy policy and consent to the use of my private info. NOT Gonna happen! As an automatic member, I am not signing anything and I do not consent to anything. I never had a choice.

    If they are backed by law, they don’t need my consent and if they are not backed by law, I do not consent.!!!!

  9. Sean Keane says:

    This is not humorous it is horrendous. Not to keep poking at Mr. Holmes but it is abundantly clear that people like him have caused more damage to our industry than good. Yes, there are some bad trades out there without a doubt. We hear the horror stories about homeowners who have been bilked, manipulated and robbed – however that does not represent the majority of our industry. These fly by the pants contractors are weeded out rather quickly. There is an old saying, work hard, gain respect and the world will be yours, lose respect the world will be lost.
    This issue that many contractors have come up against, to try and compete. Some of which now use both the OCOT and WSIB as advertising against their competitors which equals a win for the propaganda tools offered up by their media blitzs. How many RENO contractors now display on their trucks and in their advertising covered by WSIB, BILD, OCOT to name a few that I have seen in the past couple of years. Is this not the type of media used by GarCon (Building Group) who allegedly bilked trades and homeowners out of tens of thousands of dollars. Do those letters represent who we are? It certainly does not.
    However our fellow trades now use these propaganda tools to their benefit to set them apart from their competitors and the worst example is the use of ” I am a WSIB certified contractor.” Have they not forgotten WSIB does not cover private renovations? They are in fact exempt, but the propaganda tool used by OCOT and WSIB says you should always deal with a trade that has WSIB coverage. It’s one thing for a homeowner to fall prey to this propaganda but it is far more disgusting that the trade who knows better uses the same propaganda tool to win over a competitor.
    How can we win against these wayward institutions when, instead of protesting against them, many trades have joined simply to use the advertising and propaganda in their favor?

  10. I’m having trouble finding my hair stylist on the list… should I be going to a different place from now on so I don’t get a poor quality hair cut?

    • Avatar photo Steve Payne says:

      LOL. When I asked Ron Johnson, when he was the chair of OCOT, about the hair stylist thing, he DID point out that hair salons use all kinds of chemicals, and you don’t want those in the wrong hands. Well, in fairness to Mr. Johnson, I’m paraphrasing. But he did make that point. The comedy continues…

  11. Doug Leitch says:

    Well to say the video is misleading is saying it lightly.
    Maybe in my opinion if Mr. Peter Silverman (consumer advocate) should have in my opinion do his research correctly, he would have known that not all trades are on the College of Trades register. He also would have known that only 22 trades are compulsory trades in Ontario that are forced to be members of the College.
    He also would have known that as per the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act 2009 under Ontario Regulation 412/12 (, that Quebec Trades people and Quebec Apprentices are exempt from the Ontario College of Trades and also the voluntary trades do not have to be members of the College of Trades. So how is this protecting the Public interest?
    So are per Mr. Peter Silverman comment in the video of
    “Before hiring a trade’s person 2) Confirm they’re active on the Public Register”, how can one check to see if they are on the Public Register for the Ontario College of Trades if they are exempt or are not members?
    Mr. Peter Silverman has made the comment of “has made it possible to verify the credentials before you hire them” but once again if they are not a member of the College or are exempt from the College then they are not on the Public Register, then it is impossible to check their credentials.
    I would like to know did Mr. Peter Silverman make a statement that are not correct or did he not actually check to see what trades are members of the Ontario College of Trades.
    So he making the College out to be something that it is not?
    Has he make statements that are incorrect and misleading to all Ontarian’s?
    He wants you to search the Ontario College of Trades register to hire with confidence, please do and you will not find that not all trades are on there.
    In my opinion Mr. Peter Silverman should have known that not all trades in Ontario are not members of the College, before he offered to take part in the making of this video.
    Maybe he should have checked to see what type of organization the College was and he would have known that the Ontario College of Trades is a not for profit membership professional corporation (as per the 2013 Auditor report).
    The Ontario Government between 2012 & 2013 gave the OCOT a government grant of over $14 million which the Ontario taxpayers monies but yet still in 2013 they ran a $3.2 million dollar deficit, have is this looking out to protect public interest when they can not even balance their own books.
    If you look at the 2013 Auditor report you will read that the revenue was just over $4.2 million but yet the salaries & benefits were over $9.2 million.
    Please see this which is right from the Auditor’s report

    Nature of operations
    The Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2009 was introduced to the Legislature in May of
    2009 and received Royal Assent on October 27, 2009. Under the legislation, the Ontario College of
    • Issuing licenses and certificates of membership;
    • Protecting the public interest through investigation and discipline mechanisms;
    The College will also direct activities of adjudicative Trade Panels.
    As a not-for-profit professional membership corporation, the College is exempt from tax under section 149(1) of the Income Tax Act.
    The College, which is at arm’s-length from the government, started accepting and registering members
    from April 8, 2013. The College’s members include all apprentices, certified workers (journeypersons –
    Certificate of qualification holders) in compulsory trades, employers who employ journeypersons or who
    Sponsor and/or employ apprentices and those in voluntary trades who choose to join.

    So as you can read from above they are a not-for-profit professional membership corporation and not a government body.
    Now the sunshine list also just came out which not one of the employees of the OCOT is listed on that list, so this also can confirm that the OCOT is not a government body.

    Now let us look at the investigation part in the Auditor’s report because under the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act 2009 it states in Section 11.1.11 “To receive and investigate complaints against members of the College and to deal with issues of discipline, misconduct, incompetency and incapacity.”
    Now if you see above it states “complaints against members” it does not say the volunteer trades which are not members.

    Now let us look at the Revenue of the membership “Membership fees $4 ,902,815” and here is the salaries & benefits 2013 “Salaries and benefits $9 ,197,266” now let us look at 2012 “$4,739,075”, which shows the salaries almost doubled.

    Now after everything has been calculated the Ontario College of Trades had a “Deficiency of revenue over expenses ($3,470,560)” after getting the Ontario Government Grant of 2013 “$6 ,218,258” and 2012 “$8,035,873”

    Now if the College is a not for profit membership organization and not a government body which the Quebec Trades and Quebec Apprentices are exempt and the volunteer trades are also not members, how then is this protect public interest or even better I would Mr. Peter Silverman explain to the Ontario Public how can they check to credentials thru the Ontario College of Trades?
    I also would Mr. Frank Cozzolino also explain the above questions to Ontarian’s. We know by the video that Mr. Frank Cozzolino is a member of the OCOT and I would have to question or in my opinion now have some concerns on trusting him as a contractor by in the video making incorrect statements because he know that he is one of the 22 compulsory trades that are forced to join. I am hopeful that Mr. Frank Cozziloni will re-track his statements and ask the College to take down the video.

    I would like to send out a word of caution to the Ontario Public please do not always believe what you see in an videos or article that the Ontario College of Trades is posting because the material may not be correct or truthful.

    Once again the Ontario College of Trades is not a Government Body, they are a not for profit membership organization (as per the 2013 Auditor report) which as per my interpretation they can only do enforcement on the members of the college.
    Now if the Ontario College of Trades will not answer any of our questions, we as members do not elect any board members, directors, board of Governors and/or the Chair of the Board of Governors. We have no say at all in anything on the operations, expenditures, any decisions making and now the salaries are not on the sunshine list we will never know that employees got raises but yet are expected to pay for this.

    Now if the Ontario College is doing enforcement of the volunteer trades of Ontario but yet is not a government body, which Provincial powers do they hold but most of all why are the 22 compulsory trades pay for this? Will the fine actually hold up in an Ontario court of law and is this wasting more Ontarian’s monies?
    Now if the Ontario College of Trades is an actually government body then is the fees that the 22 compulsory trades and actual indirect tax on the trades people and not a fee?
    Does anyone remember the Health care fee that the Ontario Government brought out in 2002, well soon after it was changed to a tax because the Ontario government cannot charge a fee?
    So we the members will continue to fight to find out the truth of what type of organization it really is, is it a not for profit membership organization or a government body? Once we find out in other ways other than the OCOT because they will not inform us the or be honest with us, we will then force them to follow the rules they must follow.
    So to the Ontario Public I can tell you as a forced member the Ontario College of Trades is not what they are making themselves out to be and this have cost you over $14 million to date to bail out a not for profit organization. Now how many more millions is it going to cost you in the near future because if the OCOT at the end of 2103 over a $3.4 million deficit, who do you then bailed them out once again?

  12. Questo says:

    Hi Dough Leith, thanks for the above report, excellent from your part.

    That report about the OCOT shows, what I have been saying for a while about this insane OCOT. ( Ontario college of thieves) apparently was created to employee a lot of cooks management from the closing factory sectors in the last decade.

    In doing that they could get grants from the broken Ontario government ( tax payers money) and using the slogan consumers protection for their creation, also using the compulsory trades people as the scape goats.

    A class action law-suite from all compulsory trades should be a grate idea, towards the OCOT, the Liberal government too.

    The OCOT, like so many others are there for them selves nothing more.

    We the compulsory trades people should stand against this Liberal government to close this insane tax collection agency or fools apparatus an asap. Demanding the Liberals crooks out too, this is another financial fiasco, another scandal to employee their minions.

    About Peter Silverman video, what a great fool, should be ashamed of him self, the Liberal game and their views, misleading, trickery, bribery, dishonesty, and a lot more. They lost the right of governance, by acting this way.

  13. Christine says:

    This video is frightening and I’ll tell you why. I reported 2 “underground” garages doing repairs on vehicles with no licenses, all cash businesses and years later, they are still going strong. Neither were ever investigated. So if the “are you protected?”, is the last of their concerns, proving that taxes are their only reason for existing. And to operate a huge expensive Government department, off the backs of hardworking tradespeople, just for greed and nothing else, is sickening and scary. What next? Our government in this province would do anything to open a tax department. Next will be a “Tradesmen Cut Analysis Department or TCAD, with $350 per year tax charged to tradesmen to report and analyze your cuts from working. There will be an annual budget of $30,000,000.00 and you will have to waste an hour of your day photographing your cuts and scanning doctor reports, and if you don’t “comply” or pay your taxes, no healthcare for you. The control and amount of government is what is terrifying.

    • francis says:

      In my garage they bought 16 bouncer to take care of me the Journey person call college of trade on me. The College of trade came but did nothing as for the person who call College of Trade was fired as he was a drunk licence journey person. First of all he didn’t no his work I had to help his section second he didn’t know what toll to use but was well protected by the owner so that the owner can call cops on me. I had family an I didn’t want no part of this crap but that how trade is but I have to think about my family not fight.

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