Ontario government proposes sweeping trades shakeup

Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.
October 24, 2018

The provincial government is planning to wind down the Ontario College of Trades and tackle journeyperson-to-apprentice ratios as part of broad legislation aimed at ”lightening the burden on business and making sure that hard work is rewarded.”

For all trades that are subject to journeyperson-to-apprentice ratios, the government is proposing to set the ratio to one-to-one, while it is also planning a moratorium on trade classifications and reclassifications. The legislation also includes plans to develop a replacement model for the regulation of the skilled trades and apprenticeship system in Ontario by early 2019.

The changes are contained within the ”Making Ontario Open for Business Act,” which Doug Ford’s government introduced on Tuesday.

Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario’s Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, said, ”There are many tremendous and vibrant opportunities available in the skilled trades in Ontario. In fact, one in five new jobs in the next five years will be trades-related. But in Ontario today, employers can’t find apprentices and apprentices can’t find jobs. As far as we’re concerned, if you are prepared to do the work then you deserve a shot at the job.”

As part of legislation aimed at repealing much of the previous government’s Bill 148, there will also be changes to the timing of minimum wage increases and to personal emergency leave entitlements.

”Our government has been clear since day one – we are making Ontario open for business. It is time to bring quality jobs back to Ontario and help families get ahead,” said Jim Wilson, Ontario’s Minister Responsible for Red Tape and Regulatory Burden Reduction.

Jim Wilson, Minister Responsible for Red Tape and Regulatory Burden Reduction.
“This legislation is just one way our government is working towards that goal.”

The Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) cautiously welcomed the new proposals.

”Many HRAI members in Ontario will be pleased to hear about the move to one-to-one ratios, which has been a priority concern for more than a decade. This announcement will clearly be a cause for celebration,” read a statement on its website.

”Reactions to some of the other proposals, however, might be somewhat mixed. For example, it is unclear what the implications will be of the reclassification moratorium on the development of a hydronic heating trade program, which was seeing some real progress of late.

”Terminating the Ontario College of Trades might also be welcome news for some in the industry, but only if a more responsive and agile system of governance can be developed in its stead.”