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Labour

Ontario College of Trades Review Panel lacking plan: report

Vince Versace

Decisions about the future of the Ontario College of Trades are hampered by a lack of research, says Hamilton-based think-tank Cardus. The college held province-wide consultations on the criteria for future compulsory certification and ratio review panel boards.

Decisions about the future of the Ontario College of Trades are hampered by a lack of research, says Hamilton-based think-tank Cardus.

“It is a classic case of building infrastructure without a plan, and it leaves Ontario’s construction industry — already facing a severe shortage of workers — innovation-vulnerable,” says Michael Van Pelt, Cardus president. “Workers in this province might soon face fines or be prevented from working in their trade, all by a body which has not provided clear reasons backed by independent research.”

The report, An Uneasy Case for Moving Trades from Voluntary to Compulsory Certification, expresses concerns surrounding the process by which Ontario’s skilled tradespersons “will require mandatory government certification in order to work.”

“Our report finds that there is a complete lack of research guiding the College of Trades Review Panels in its decisions as to whether or not to make trade certification compulsory,” says Van Pelt.

The Ontario College of Trades is a self-regulatory body expected to give industry a greater role in the governance of the apprenticeship training system and the promotion of careers in the skilled trades. The college also consists of compulsory certification and ratio review panel boards.

“Much of the consultation over the past few years has been a process-driven effort more focused on the ‘how’ than on the ‘whether’,” the report concluded. “Although various rationales for the move to compulsory certification have been offered — increasing health and safety, improving the labour supply, making the Ontario construction a better place to work — a survey of the various reports, submissions and news stories on this issue indicates that these arguments are based more on rhetoric than solid research.”

various reports, submissions and news stories on this issue indicates that these arguments are based more on rhetoric than solid research.

The college held province-wide consultations last fall on the criteria for future compulsory certification and ratio review panel boards.

“On the axis of fairness alone, no group or set of groups whose interest it is to expand the list of compulsory trades should be determinative in this against those whose interest it is to have voluntary trades remain voluntary,” the report says. “In particular, the review panel should fairly represent this divergence of ‘compulsory’ versus ‘voluntary’ trade interests to guarantee the best outcomes for all stakeholders, including consumers.”

Cardus noted there needs to a “transparent process” of research and data collection to inform compulsory certification decisions.

“Without independent research, the College of Trades and its review panels will be driven by political and interest group dynamics rather than sound, reasoned judgment,” the report says.

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