Recently in Ontario Tony dean was commissioned by the Liberal government to look at the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT). This report was commissioned last election as a result of a lot of noise from the conservatives and others who have not liked the fact that we now have enforcement in the trades. EG. (Employers who did not want to pay for trades and workers that were performing compulsory work illegally.) Before OCOT, many workers that were working illegally in a compulsory trade were able to get away with it due to no enforcement, unless something catastrophic happened. This was not good for the public or the trades in General and most genuine trades viewed the enforcement as a good part of the recently formed OCOT.
This report that was submitted to the Liberals has some recommendations that will not be good for the trades or the public. A few of the acceptable recommendations were already being implemented by OCOT.
One of the newer aspects of OCOT is that the public can now look up to see if a member is legitimately a registered trade’s person before hiring them. With enforcement these non trades can be pursued through the justice system. This has been a very positive move forward in elevating the status of trades and protecting the public. We need to ensure we do not move backwards!
The three main issues that you should be concerned with in the recommendations are as follows.
1.) Trade Classification Reviews: The report recommends a committee with no Industry experts on this panel. Obviously an important decision such as this should be made by the people that understand Trades, who better than trades to make these decisions? The college was set up originally to be self regulating and they have a process for selecting their panels or committees. These types of decisions should be left to the experts that are selected from Industry.
2.) Scope of Practice In the recommendations the reviewer recommends to enforce only a portion of the scope of practice for a trade using “risk of harm.” The definition of Risk of Harm in itself can cause much debate as it is risk of immediate harm or down the road when the equipment fails due to improper installation? We have many areas where more than one trade can perform this work and this is laid out in our scope of practice’s. There is also a danger here of lowering the status of trades when only using a portion of the scope of practice, which opposes of another key point, (elevating the status of trades), in the development of OCOT.
3.) Utilizing the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) in disputes of Scope of Practice. The OLRB utilizes practice and collective agreements to settle these disputes. These decisions have been inconsistent across the province and do not utilize the Risk of Harm that the reviewer recommends. In many cases the practice developed (Illegally) was due to previous lack of enforcement.
Recently Unifor has joined forces with affiliates in an attempt to get the Liberals to do a proper consultation before implementing these recommendations. We have also been active in lobbying MPP’s on this issue.
Please take the time to visit this website and send a letter, all you have to do is click on the “send a letter” option, pick out your riding on the drop down menu, fill out your name and address and hit send. It should take you less than a minute.
Ray Hamel – Recording Secretary UNSTC.