Canadian Contractor

Ontario College of Trades: Why CARAHS opposes it

The Canadian Association of Renovators and Home Services, says its president Alec Caldwell, is determined to prevent its members from being harassed out of business by the Ontario College of Trades

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April 4, 2014 by Alec Caldwell

I want to talk about the Ontario College of Trades and their incredibly short-sighted and dangerous attempts to certify carpenters in the province.

First, please bear with me while I tell a little story about “craftsmanship” that illustrates the insanity of the OCOT.

It’s actually about music. When my wife told me she had got tickets to a rock show a few weeks back (she being the rock fan) I enquired, “Is it for The Who?”

She replied “Yes.”

So off we went to the event, taking our seats. When the band entered, the drum kit and the backdrop said – not The Who – but Yes.

“I thought it was The Who?” I asked my wife.

“Yes,” she replied. Yes, she was right again.

Somewhere during this loud performance, Jon Anderson, one of the co-founders of Yes, sat alone on stage. This was a special moment. The spot light was on him and every other band member was gone and with just darkness surrounding him on stage, he began to strum his guitar.  

He blew me away as I listened.

Next morning I Googled Jon Anderson and only then did I really appreciate who this gentleman was. That he was 70 years old, that he is a master of his trade  – and that he’s been practicing his trade since he was 15 years old, when he left school to dedicate himself to that trade.

After leaving school, he received no further education, nor training, nor apprenticeship. Fifty-five years later, alone on that stage, he displayed utter and complete control of his craft: his life’s work.

Click here (but please come back to my story) to hear him play the same number (though 23 years earlier) than the version  I heard on my night listening to him. But what I heard was even better.

Jon Anderson’s mastery of his trade – which is almost magical – got me thinking about how any craftsman learns any craft.

Can you imagine someone founding a College of Rock to provide administration and oversight over professional musicians? Imagine them declaring musicians such as Jon Anderson, professionals for decades, that they were no longer “certified” to perform professionally and that they needed to go back to the start and get their apprenticeships?

Not even a testing mechanism to evaluate their skills.

I bet most of us would say, “Well, this is crazy.” And yes it would be. And that’s what is about to happen to anyone practicing carpentry, or hanging drywall, in the province of Ontario.

Under the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) upcoming review of carpenters and drywallers, the OCOT is very likely to make both “compulsory” trades, which means they would have to join the OCOT – and possibly become certified – i.e., obtain Certificates of Qualification – even though vast numbers of extremely competent carpenters and drywallers have  no such certification. Yet are as good at their trades as Jon Anderson is at his. For the same reasons: They have honed their skills over decades!

OCOT is about to do this to you and our industry.

Under Ontario’s definition of a “carpenter,” the work of performing home renovations is included. Is it possible that OCOT will, with one fell swoop, make home renovators – as well as carpenters, as well as drywallers – technically illegal if they are not members of OCOT. And if they are not certified?

The public does not realize the massive increase  in home renovation costs that this would create.

The underground market will be fed by this government interference.

We need to stop the OCOT.

On April 8th at 9.30 am, Garfield Dunlop, licensed plumber and MPP in the Ontario Legislature (he’s the Skilled Trades and Apprenticeships critic) is having a press conference at Queen’s Park to oppose the OCOT – and specifically this latest move to choke down on carpenters and other trades in the province.

Because of security, contractors need to tell us if they would like to show up. But we want you to be there.

Email: if you’d like to attend.

Then go to: and sign their petition.      

CARAHS was founded as a non profit association to advocate and mentor self employed renovators and home services (Canadian Association of Renovators and Home Services)  

Alec Caldwell

Alec Caldwell

Alec Caldwell is the Founder of CARAHS, a Health & Safety Organization. We are approved providers by the Ministry of Labour (Ontario) to teach Working at Heights Training (Pro#34609) Visit the Ministry of Labour's web site to view our listing
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13 Comments » for Ontario College of Trades: Why CARAHS opposes it
  1. Questo says:

    Alec, you are 100% right, what you had mention above. I love it, this is music.

    I to learn music by my self about 20 years until now, and yes this guy is amazing. The more anyone plays the more they learn.

    And this goes for the trades too, the more experience the better anyone becomes. No collection agencies any size shape and form can ever changed that, by eluding into master/contractor licenses and memberships coated with slogans.

    I can play first trumpet, Piano, 12 string two kind classic guitar and 6 strings also. You will be amazed what I can do.

    Its the love, passion, integrity, patience, persistence, dedication, self confidence, etc. which makes anyone a good professional.

    whoever papers are good, for title only. And apparently became attractive like the stock market. After thirty five years on the compulsory trade, with these wolfs (OCOT) trying to grab my hard money, I may soon I have to start my shows.

    For you Alec, free tickets, to ward your time dedicated to the trades people.

    I believe your money was well spend on this music show.


  2. Hi Questo, (and everyone reading this)
    Thanks for your comments Questo and your very kind words. Your feed back gives us hope and we will to continue. WE NEED TO MAKE MUSIC…..

    I was wondering if you can afford and everyone else out there can afford to take the morning off work next Tuesday the 8th and join us shoulder to shoulder at this press conference at Queens Park in Toronto.

    The press conference is at 9.30. We have t-shirt’s saying UNEMPLOYED RENOVATORS COMING SOON, Abolish the Ontario College of Trades NOW.

    We also have a big banner and we’re trying to start a movement to awake the trades on whats about to happen, if they don’t come out and support stopping this OCOT.

    If you can come and better still, if others can come join up as a team, simply everyone sends me an email with their first and last name, including their telephone number. These are needed ahead of time in order to get inside past security at the front door. Its by invitation only.

    We are out to keep identities hidden and protect everyone, so no names are mentioned in front of cameras. We just need a good number of people standing together tall and seen as united against stopping this Ontario College of Trades.

    We need all the individual self employed trades and everyone else unhappy with the OCOT to come out and join us as well.

    Email me directly for an invite on the 8th to:

    We need more like you my friend Questo and thanks a million. I see you are a real musical men yourself, so bring your BIGGEST drum 🙂

  3. Questo says:

    Hi Alec, I went to meet the local clubs personnel, and so very receptive on this mater, and more meeting are coming up on this issue tonight. And in here is a music recommended by Mrs. Theresa from the Italian Club. This is called the sadness of our people.

    Maybe next week the music may have to be change to a heavy drums.

  4. Questo says:

    Alec, best regards form the Portuguese club local area ( none disclosed )
    A lot of construction workers all trades aren’t happy what is going on, including company owners.

    The local shop Training Union Liuna ( none disclosed local) were let know about the next week press conference, very receptive.

    This music was chosen called the departure, by some Portuguese construction groups I hope will be the OCOT departure, notice.

    I love it, and this across Europe is very popular, including south America, Brazil and Argentina. Now should I and anyone pay the OCOT to play with one of these guitars.? There isn’t certification for this craft. LOL.

    How loud may the music be next week?

  5. hello there Questo my Portuguese friend. I was at a MOL after noon meeting on Friday 28th in Toronto and talked to a couple of your brothers out of local 506. They said they were not happy with the OCOT and the Carpenters union and they would like to speak out, but could no go against another union. The very next day in the Toronto Sun new breaks ” LiUNA Local 625, out of Windsor, is the first union to officially unite with the employer-driven Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance (OSTA) to oppose OCOT, accusing it of threatening the livelihood of its members.

    So Questo we have a lot in common now , including music and I have not talked about Ronaldo….. yet and Brazil coming up and Scotland’s not is it lol.

    So when you talk tonight I open up to ask “Everyone from Liuna is welcome to come along and show support. If we can fill the hallways even better. We are after the same goals of closing this OCOT.

    If guys want to come, once its been ok ‘s by your committee, then email my their names and I forward this to queens park, so security will let them in. We discovered we cannot take in our big banner, but named t-shirts with close the college is OK.

    Bring the drums and bring it on…..Soccer fans can sing their hearts out and no more passionate than the Portuguese……bring your choir to Queens Parks this Tuesday morning and we be so loud it’ll be on the front page of the Toronto Sun.

  6. Questo says:

    Hey, Alec, in here is the one for you from me, I learn some of these melodies with my Portuguese friends. Music connects all of us deeply to our hearts, just seat and listen after a hard day of stress may make you feel way better.

    I may have to go with other groups, thanks for the invitation, was given into a lot of places your info, now is their free choice to go attend the press conference, next week, however, more contacts are in the making.

    After tonight meeting we will se how many will go, because is far and transport sharing we may have to arrange.

  7. Questo says:

    Hey Alec, Scotland national team was once a grate team, and if they want to became players on the world arena, I guess they should get Jose Mourinho as their coach. Then the Scotland people would see once more what they can do.

    Great abut the liuna 625 Windsor, but also Toronto 183 join the arena too.
    We may have the Brazilians take care of the drums, playing samba.

    Hope you like the music, its a proving concept and unit the people for a fair, free and respected society and world as we all should leave, human beings, not title as person/ persons, labels and fables. ( human beings or people)

  8. You used great words to live by my friend:

    “Hope you like the music, its a proving concept and unit the people for a fair, free and respected society and world as we all should leave, human beings, not title as person/ persons, labels and fables. ( human beings or people)”

  9. Hi Questo….Have a look at this new item. Its headed the right way 🙂
    We’ll have a beer at your local watching a world cup game. Of course still no Scottish team. Thanks for the idea of the Chelsea boss 🙂

    Bulletin: Minister Kenney Slams Ontario’s Plan for Compulsory Certification of Carpenters

    Dear Members,

    Today, federal Employment and Social Development Minster Jason Kenney called on the Ontario Liberal government to put a stop to its job-killing plan to force mandatory certification on carpenters throughout the province.

    Here is the link to the Toronto Sun story that discusses Minister Kenney’s position on the College of Trades.

    The Stop The Trades Tax campaign, is grateful for Minister Kenney’s support on such an important move that if it goes ahead will fundamentally change the construction industry for the worse and head Ontario in the wrong direction.

    With the one-year anniversary of the College of Trades causing havoc on the industry, Minister Kenney’s opposition to the compulsory certification of carpenters speaks volumes to how this bureaucracy is failing in its mandate.

    We encourage all campaign members to tweet this story on twitter and also use social media to support Minister Kenney’s comments.

    Here are some sample tweets for members to use:
    .@kenneyjason says Ontario’s move to make carpentry compulsory certified is a job killer. I agree #onpoli #cdnpoli

    Minister @kenneyjason slams Ontario’s plan for compulsory certification of carpenters. #onpoli #cdnpoli

    .@kenneyjason: licensing carpentry in ON is so potentially destructive to economy it warrants national attn #onpoli

    Minister @kenneyjason is right, forcing carpenters who aren’t licensed off the jobsite or back to school is a job killer #onpoli #cdnpoli

    Pleased to see @kenneyjason standing up for Ont construction workers. Compulsory certification will drag down the economy #cdnpoli #onpoli


    Karen Renkema

  10. Hi Questo,
    I heard LiUNA Local 625 made music at Queens Park yesterday….. Well CARAHS made music there today!

    Copy and paste following link into your browser to see our banner photo:

    “The Ontario College of Trades wants to do this to independent self employed home renovators”

    ………..and to union workers

  11. Questo says:

    Fantastic, what else the Ontario Cabal Oligarchs Traitors are doing behind de the seen? Its the never end scandals, look like a novel of scandals.

  12. Questo says:

    Time for the public outcry, stop this f,,,,, college of Traitors, and others alike.

    To all compulsory trades out there, do you rally need this garbage OCOT?
    Do you want to sport this kind of corruption cabals?
    How far should they be allowed to go?

    Remember a lot of you are paying for it, This could be the tip of the ice berg.

    Around 20 million dollars were landed to this OCOT from our tax dollars, last year to fine 131 violations, Maybe most of them were $195.00, each, and only 6000 website visits, shocking failure isn’t? Most visits may well be many loggings, same ID, so could be a lot less than 6000.

    When a house foundation isn’t done proper, will twist or fail and can look like hell.

  13. GEORGE replies on CARAHS re this article:

    August 19, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    In my opinion there is nothing wrong with the mandatory certification of a trade. To compare a tradesman or better yet a craftsman to a musician is really missing the point. If you cant sing or play an instrument very well no harm done. Nobody is going to buy your music or go to your concert. If you didn’t frame my addition very well, harm has been done. Its that simple and it happens every day.

    I can tell you from my experience as a tradesman, failure to make my trade a mandatory certification trade has resulted in a terrible loss of knowledge and skill transfer in the trade. Being a skilled Brick and Stone mason actually requires more than a strong back and the ability to throw in more units everyday than the next guy.

    The quality of work and the apparent lack of knowledge in the trade is humiliating and shameful. Why? Because there are generations of guys who call themselves a mason that do not know anything about mortars, cant layout their work, cant course or bond their work, don’t understand the structural aspects of their work and that’s just a short list. Then these guys are showing the younger guys how to do it. So if you don’t know, what do you have to teach or show an apprentice?

    I see the results of this as a Home Inspector, saw it as a Superintendent, and see it every day as a Consultant.

    Do the consumer and all future trades people a favour by ensuring certification of all trades. Ensure a baseline of skill and knowledge is maintained and improved on rather than allowing it to be lost. If you know your trade then writing an exam wont be a problem. If it is then you have no right to consider yourself a tradesman because you are not.

    IN REPLY Alec Caldwell at CARAHS says:
    September 5, 2014 at 2:55 pm (Edit)

    Unfortunate George I have to disagree a little with you.
    I’ve seem many houses built and what is hidden between the walls are sometimes bad craftsmanship and what hides this is in the finish.

    Behind the drywall and the paint lies hidden dangers from molds to beams cut wrongly. All done many a time be licensed people. That’s trades who carry pieces of paper saying they’ve served their time.

    People buying these homes don’t know and buy. Like turning up to a bad concert. They have know clue. At least with a bad concert, you can leave immediately. With defects hidden in homes, you may never know and continue to live there for years, running your health down.

    We agree to disagree and everyone’s opinions
    are welcome. No one can say they are right and nothing is squeaky clean.