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Four Seasons drywall weighs in on Ontario College of Trades controversy

Daily Commercial News

Those opposed to the Ontario College of Trades have relied on rumour, innuendo and fear mongering instead of facts to make their point, says Four Seasons Drywall president.

Letter to the Editor

Re: “Appointment of Tim Armstrong as Ontario College of Trades chair draws industry skepticism” article (DCN, July 21)

To the Editor:

I have been in the construction business for my entire life and have been actively involved in the training of young apprentices. I served an apprenticeship a number of years ago and today I sit as a trustee on one of the largest training centres in Canada.

It is with continued disappointment and a sense of bewilderment that once again those opposed to the Ontario College of Trades have relied on rumour, innuendo and fear mongering instead of facts to make their point.

In a recent article published in the Daily Commercial News, Sean Reid, Regional Director of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada, suggested that the Appointments Council of the College of Trades has lost its ability to be impartial because of the appointment to Tim Armstrong as its new chair.

He stated “it’s hard to see how the industry can now expect a fair hearing on compulsory certification when one of the issue’s most established proponents will now be in charge of picking the adjudicators”.

With all due respect to Mr. Reid, he could not be further from the truth. In fact, if he read Mr. Armstrong’s report, or the Act, he would note that the implementation of any additional compulsory trades requires a full and open process, with both advocates and those opposed given a full hearing into the matter.

As a matter of fact, meeting the burden for compulsory status will be a very difficult task and as Mr. Reid alludes to will require an independent roster of adjudicators to oversee the process. To suggest that Mr. Armstrong will manipulate the process by appointing only those in favour of increased compulsory certification is an insult to his long and distinguished career in the industry.

It also represents a huge insult to the other eight members of the Appointments Council that are spending countless hours developing the governance structure. The truth is Mr. Armstrong’s influence on the appointees is minimal at best because as Chair he doesn’t even get a vote unless there is a tie among the other council members.

In recent months there have been a number of letters to the editor published in the Daily Commercial News that are continually aimed at derailing the process by those representing special interests.

At one point it was even suggested that every skilled tradesperson and every employer would be required to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars annually to be a member of the College. I don’t believe the Appointments Council has even deliberated this issue.

These continued rumours and innuendo serve to only enrage those within the special interests and hurt those skilled workers in Ontario that will see a great benefit from the implementation of The College of Trades.

For years those in the trades have demanded from government a greater role in self regulation, and this government has finally given them the opportunity. All trades will have the ability to control their own training requirements, regulations and governance. It’s an opportunity that cannot be wasted.

It is in all our best interests to work together on a smooth and seamless transition from the current system of apprenticeship which is outdated and ineffective, to a more modern system that will meet the needs of all skilled tradespeople, apprentices and their employers across the province.

Vern Zapfe
Four Seasons Drywall

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