The Attack On Skilled Trades Section 17 of Bill 70
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Schedule 17 of Bill 70 - the demise of skilled trades in Ontario
The Liberal government has introduced amendments to the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act (the Act) that will dilute the enforcement powers of the Ontario College of Trades and devalue a Certification of Qualification and the compulsory trades designation. This government is creating an unsafe workplace and telling skilled trades professionals and apprentices that their investment in training is a waste of time and money.
The Wynne government has chosen to hide these damaging amendments from public scrutiny by attaching them to an omnibus bill.
There are currently 22 compulsory trades in Ontario in which a person must be certified, or be registered as an apprentice in a given trade and a member of the College, to work or be employed in that trade. Certification is compulsory to ensure that anyone engaged in the practice of trades which pose risks to workers, public safety or consumer protection, are trained and sufficiently competent to perform work properly and safely. The Certificate of Qualification is the only demonstrable proof of that training. The government’s proposed amendments will now allow individuals without certification to do work within the scope of theses trades.
The Liberal government has introduced amendments to the Act that allow individuals to appeal a notice of contravention from the College to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB). The College has a mandate to protect the public, the OLRB does not, its primary focus is jurisdictional disputes
Scenario: A labourer mounting electrical panel boards and their associated distribution systems is given a notice of contravention by the College. The OLRB can determine the person does not have a Certificate and is doing work within scope of electrician (breaking the law) but now the OLRB can rescind the College’s notice of contravention if they don’t see any visible risk to that particular task. The danger in this notion is that what may appear to be a simple task -if done incorrectly- could lead to a hazardous fire and possible serious injury or death. Similar scenarios could play out in any of the compulsory trades, not just construction.
The Certificate of Qualification and compulsory trade status would become meaningless if the OLRB is allowed to break out tasks within a compulsory trade. It also neuters the regulatory body mandated to protect the pubic. Business will benefit from using cheaper labour but the cost could be lives and ultimately higher expenses when work is done improperly. The province takes a massive step back in consumer protection and in promoting skills and training.
Call to Action: Schedule 17 needs to be removed from Bill 70 and sent to committee to allow proper debate and public scrutiny of the impact of these amendments. If passed in its current form, these amendments will increase risks to workers and the public.
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