By CRM Staff
Toronto, Ontario -- April 8, 2013 -- There are widely differing viewpoints on the Ontario College of Trades (OCT). Representatives of the College itself have stated that they believe that it benefits the skilled trades and consumers Others, such as the members of the Stop The Trades Tax Campaign, as the name suggests, believe that it’s essentially a “fee grab,” designed to put money into provincial coffers while providing little if any benefit to working tradespeople or the public.
We’ve received three different points of view on the matter in the last month. They are each presented below as they originally appeared on collisionrepairmag.com
Our readers haven’t been shy in letting us know what they think of the OCT. We’ve included a number of their comments on the issue in between each viewpoint. Comments were drawn both from collisionrepairmag.com and from Facebook. Minor edits have been made to some comments to correct spelling and/or typographical errors. You can join the discussion by leaving a comment at the end of this article or by sending an email in confidence to
Supporting the economy means supporting the trades
By Ron Johnson, Chair of the Ontario College of Trades
Toronto, Ontario -- March 7, 2013 -- The trades are the backbone of our economy. Hardworking men and women build and maintain the infrastructure that Ontarians rely on every day. They provide valuable services in a range of sectors. But we have a skills shortage looming in several sectors. The Conference Board of Canada estimates we'll be lacking more than 360,000 skilled trade workers by 2025, a number that could escalate to 560,000 by 2030.
That's because our economy is growing, but the labour force isn't able to keep up. We need to attract new workers to the trades if we're going to maintain our competitive edge. We need to ensure that these people are well-trained, that the skills are available where we need them, and that consumers are protected. We can't afford to sit idly and hope things work out for the best. We need to be proactive. Industry and the trades are working together to build a better future for our province.
That's what the Ontario College of Trades is going to do. It's an industry-driven organization with a mandate to modernize and promote the trades. “Industry-driven” means by tradespeople - and by employers, too; those who recognize the College as an investment in our economic future.
Critics like Garfield Dunlop, the MPP for Simcoe North, say the College will limit opportunities for tradespeople and harm the industry, but that's simply not true. In fact, the College will be mandated to promote the trades as a profession of first choice among youth and individuals who are changing careers. This will actually increase opportunity, by growing the labour force and strengthening the industry. The College won't restrict legitimate and honest tradespeople in their work –but it will limit unscrupulous operators who break the rules, do unsafe work, and contribute to the underground economy.
The College will further empower consumers to look up the qualifications of a tradesperson they are planning to hire, and provide a mechanism to report misconduct. The public register and discipline process will increase consumer confidence and raise standards in the industry. These are all positive goals.
It's disappointing that the Conservatives, who established the Ontario College of Teachers, recognize that teachers are capable and deserving of self-regulation, but refuse to support the same for automotive technicians, plumbers, construction labourers and other skilled tradespeople.
Our economy is growing. We will face serious skilled trade shortages in the near future if we don't take action now. Industry and the trades are working together to build a better future for our province. I urge you to visit collegeoftrades.ca
to learn more.
Ron Johnson is the Chair of the Ontario College of Trades Board of Governors and sits on the Board’s Executive Committee.
What our readers are saying:
Eugene Slagell: One question Mr. Johnson: How does adding another level of regulation and bureaucracy along with and additional licensing fee make a trade more accessible or desirable? The current trades that your agency is attempting to regulate are already licensed trades taught at legitimate colleges and supported through apprenticeships .
Rui Cunha: Now we don't have to worry about additional taxes on government, we give these organizations the right to tax journeyman, apprentices and companies. Certainly something to be concerned about because there are no limits to increases.
Ontario College of Trades is a “trades tax”
By Frank Notte, Director of Government Relations at the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association
Toronto, Ontario -- April 1, 2013 -- Ontario is facing a huge skilled labour shortage, with an estimated 100,000 new tradespeople needed in the next ten years. It is critical that we work to expand Ontario’s skilled labour force to fill that need. But I take issue with the assertion that we need to build a massive new bureaucracy to do it.
The College of Trades is Ontario’s newest bureaucracy that the government claims will promote skilled trades and increase consumer protection. In order to do so, the Ontario government is planning to tax both tradespeople and employers hundreds of dollars a year in “membership fees.” Does this tax give tradespeople better access to tools to perform their job? Does this tax help businesses more easily on-board apprentices? Does this tax help attract new people to the skilled trades?
No, it doesn’t. Tradespeople and business owners will still be doing the same jobs, with the same challenges, but with less money in their pockets.
I’ve heard lots of justifications for the College. Recently Ron Johnson, a former politician and head of the College, said its purpose is to attract more young people to the trades.
So let me get this straight: in order to attract more young people to the trades, the College is going to make it more expensive for them to apply for work by charging them a trades tax. Furthermore, the government will make it more expensive for businesses to hire them by charging a separate employer tax. Only the government would come up with a plan to create jobs by making it more expensive and difficult for people to qualify for a job.
Johnson has also compared the creation of the College of Trades to the Ontario College of Teachers, saying it is “industry-driven” by tradespeople and employers. But the truth is, the College will impact over 500,000 tradespeople and 30,000 business owners in Ontario, and 99 per cent of those people didn’t even get a vote on who leads the College or what the College does with their money. Furthermore, many, possibly even most, haven’t even heard of the College.
The most infuriating part for me and other small business is the huge amount of red tape the College of Trades will create. John Notte, my father, was an auto body repairer for 30 years. For 20 of those years, he owned and operated East Port Auto Body, a full service collision repair facility in Port Colborne, Ont. I grew up in the family business and saw first hand the huge red tape burden placed on his small business.
For my dad, dealing with the countless and sometimes ridiculous pieces of red tape and bureaucracy from three levels of government often took him away from his number one priority to running his business - fixing cars. Often, he would joke saying he felt like he worked part time for himself, and full time for the government based on all the time he spent dealing with red tape.
Automobile dealers and collision repair shops have numerous rules and regulations to comply with: The Motor Vehicle Dealers Act, the Consumer Protection Act, the Employment Standards Act, the Highway Traffic Act, WSIB, environmental regulations and countless others. The College of Trades and their supposed mandate to “protect the consumer” will duplicate many of these regulations. Rather than update or utilize existing legislation – the government thought it would be best to re-invent the wheel. And by extension – that means higher taxes on tradespeople, those who employ them and consumers to fund the College of Trades and their massive bureaucracy.
That is why the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, and the 10,000 automotive technicians who are part of our association, support the Stop The Trades Tax campaign. I feel passionately that the College will only hurt tradespeople. The Stop The Trades Tax campaign represents 130,000 tradespeople – including 10,000 auto technicians. It also includes 8,000 small, medium and large employers from auto dealers to construction companies.
But this is more than just a tax on tradespeople. It’s a tax on families. It’s a tax on businesses and employers. It’s a tax on everything a tradesperson touches from haircuts to collision repair. The bottom line: it will make life more expensive. And that’s something we cannot afford.
The Trillium Automobile Dealers Association and our campaign partners are going to keep fighting to stop the trades tax, because we think it’s the right thing to do. We want to urge organizations and associations who have not yet taken a stand on this issue to do so. Stand up for tradespeople and join the Stop The Trades Tax campaign. Find out more at stopthetradestax.ca
and view Trillium’s two minute video on the College at tada.ca
Frank Notte is Director of Government Relations at the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association. He also works with the Stop The Trades Tax Campaign.
What our readers are saying:
Patty Giovinazzo: Great letter. We are also a Port Colborne family. My husband is a mechanic - an honest hardworking guy - who has been in school upgrading his skills since the day we met. I am so tired of his profession being looked down on by society, but even more so by government. We always assume this is because there is no central body looking at them as one voting block, like teachers. We hope this is the last straw that will bring us together.
Dave Hillier: Typical liberal communism.
Wayne Larsen: I have three trades licences, own my own automotive business, mechanical and bodyshop. Just what I need is three times the cost to maintain my licences and to add insult to injury, and that is each year they want these fees … I did have a conversation with them and they can not answer how the "college" will improve what we already have. Stop them now!!!!!
A clarification on the Ontario College of Trades
By Jules Danielewski
Toronto, Ontario -- April 5, 2013 -- In his op-ed on the Ontario College of Trades, Frank Notte misses the point (and, regrettably, more than a few facts).
Mr. Notte is labouring under the mistaken belief that the College is a government institution, but that is not the case at all. What the College represents is taking industry regulation out of government, and letting industry run things by the industry, for the industry. This isn't a new bureaucracy; this is a flexible, responsive organization that will give tradespeople a say in their future.
Because of the College's proactive mandate, change will happen much more quickly. We'll be able to get rid of outdated regulatory requirements, some dating back to the 1970s. Prior to the College's creation, regulatory change was a long and tedious process through government. Now, things that used to take years are happening in months.
I've worked as a certified Red Seal Automotive Service Technician for over thirty years at a local new car dealership in Thunder Bay. I also hold a Truck and Coach Technician Certificate. I am qualified and competent, and proud of the work I do. Many individuals doing work in my industry, however, cannot say the same. There isn't currently a level playing field for qualified tradespeople, leading to mistrust of our industry and a high number of consumer complaints. I have seen situations where choosing an unqualified person ended up being an expensive – and possibly dangerous – mistake.
Right now, in my industry, there are a significant number of individuals lacking proper training, skills, and credentials repairing cars for consumers who simply have no way of knowing the person isn't qualified. Those unscrupulous individuals don't welcome a College that will establish, maintain, and enforce standards for the industry.
But legitimate workers and consumers certainly welcome it. This is good news.
Mr. Notte suggests that consumers can be protected through “existing” legislation. There is no “existing” legislation; that's the problem. The College's Registry will be the first time consumers will be able to check credentials and ensure they're hiring a qualified tradesperson.
A fee of $120 dollars a year and $60 for apprenticeships is more than reasonable for the value it will bring to tradespersons, the industry and consumers alike. This is a membership fee that is the lowest of any membership fees as compared to other Ontario colleges such as the College of Teachers, Social workers or nurses. Also employers do not have to join. Their membership is strictly voluntary. Most legitimate tradespersons welcome this college and see this as an investment in their career. Unlike Notte, they see their livelihood as a career not a “job” and want to see their trades professionalized and receive the respect it deserves.
Finally, throughout my career, I've had the opportunity to mentor apprentices. I have actively sought changes to the apprenticeship program to give better representation to the Motive Power sector and to tradespersons from the North. The College will have the power to do ratio reviews and make changes as necessary.
In the end, while some may be wary of change, we simply cannot stick with the status quo if we want to have the vital, skilled and responsible tradespeople we need to the future.
Jules Danielewski worked as a Service Technician in Thunder Bay, Ont., for over 30 years. He is the former Chair of the Industry Committee for Automotive Trades and is currently a member of the Board of Governors at the Ontario College of Trades.
What our readers are saying:
Dwayne Meekison: This is just another government scam to get triple the money from the hard working people in Ontario. Now the hard working class has no choice at all but to pay triple the amount they where paying. I am a licenced mechanic. The letters I received from the college offer me absolutely nothing other than the choice to pay or be fined. Way to go Ontario. Thanks for nothing.
Joel: You are sorely wrong, idiot. This will destroy the trades in Ontario and ignorant, misinformed people like you are the reason this load of crap is coming into effect. You call yourself a trades person? Shame on you! This is essentially a new policing force. There is even a snitch line to call if someone sees you doing something outside the range of your trade, such as an electrician cutting a piece of plywood. You disgust me!
Adam: Go figure. I wasn't asked to be a member but forced a 600% increase in fees. Another organization created to increase the cost of living. It needs to be shut down.
Jess: There is no clarification in this blurb of the Ontario College of Trades, only validation. You are trying to validate the tens of thousands of dollars you will receive from your position on this "board" for doing nothing. It is a farce. Does the Ontario government actually think we are going to buy this load of crap you and your peers are selling?
Dwayne: Let's see. I received papers from a college I do not want to be part of. And the only things it is offering me is "Pay 3 times as much for the same licence or be Fined." Gee. Welfare is sounding really good right now. Collect money all year than get a bonus check (Income Tax ) for doing nothing. Perhaps the government should look into saving on its handouts and leave us hard working people alone.
Graeme: I'm a tradesman (electrician) and have talked to lots of others that I have run into while I'm at work. Not one of them seem to think it's a good idea. In fact they all see it as another tax grab.
The author states "But legitimate workers and consumers certainly welcome it."
Nobody that I have talked to welcomes it. These legitimate workers and consumers are probably the author’s buddies who also have a seat on the board.
Dwayne P: Read as "I’m on the Board of Governors, and I endorse the College of Trades, now where's my cheque?"
The only people supporting the "College" are on the Board of Governors, go figure.
Joe Greps: Let’s not pretend this isn't effectively a government program, it is mandatory if I intend to work in my trade and enforced BY THE GOVERNMENT, I have been told I can have a voice in the operation of the college but nothing has been realized, it's policies so far have been dictated to me. I have elected no one or been queried (for) my opinions on anything.
I like to think I am a competent tradesman but I don't care to be reviewed like a book on Amazon by every vindictive unreasonable customer I have crossed in my career. Most customers are great, a few are a**h*les, I don't think I need to pay $120 a year to give them a public venue for their vendettas.
I suspect the building trades - IBEW, UA etc. will shut this nonsense down anyways, the 1:1 stunt with the block layers wasn't smart but I guess we can all see your true colours.
What's your opinion? Let us know in the comment box below!