Ont. introduces legislation to replace Ontario College of Trades system

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Toronto, ON — Ontario proposes legislation that would ultimately replace the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) system. Long in the making, the announcement came via a teleconference on May 6 at 2 p.m. (EST).

Titled “Building Opportunities in the Skilled Trades” act, the legislation is designed to make the province’s skilled trades and apprenticeship system more efficient, accessible and easier to navigate, reports Ontario’s ministry of labour, training, and skills development, in a press release following the teleconference.

“Skilled trades workers are the engine of our economy,” said Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s minister of labour, training and skills development. “Under the current system, responsibilities are shared between OCOT and the ministry of labour, training and skills development, causing confusion and added burden for people wanting to pursue a career in the skilled trades, which leads to employers struggling to find qualified skilled trades workers. That is why our government is building a skilled trades system that attracts more people into well-paying and meaningful careers that are truly life-changing.”

With the proposed legislation, tradespeople would get their certification through a new Crown agency — Skilled Trades Ontario, which will replace OCOT. The ministry will be responsible for the promotion, research and development of the latest apprenticeship training and curriculum standards. Apprentice registration, issuance of certificates and renewals, and conduct equivalency assessments will now be offered digitally.

“RESCON commends the positive announcement today on the proposed creation of Skilled Trades Ontario, an agency that will help create a clearer pathway for youth interested in pursuing an apprenticeship,” said Richard Lyall, president of Rescon. “This will help end the stigma around careers in construction, simplify the apprenticeship system and improve engagement with employers.”

The ministry will provide system oversight and will be responsible for regulatory decisions, financial support, enforcement of the skilled trades, and the inspector network.

“Since Minister McNaughton became minister of labour, he has taken the time to get to know our industry and the issues that matter most, whether it’s protecting health and safety or ensuring that the skilled trades system is strong for years to come,” said Bob Gougeon, business manager and financial secretary for Smart Local 285. “I applaud the government for listening and for working closely with labour to develop a plan to simplify the system and for following through on their commitment to re-establishing whole trades instead of portable skill sets.”

Panel findings

In Sept. 2020, the ministry developed a five-member skilled trades panel to seek input from industry stakeholders on how to improve the skilled trades and apprenticeship system.

The second phase of consultations is now open to feedback. The panel will provide advice and recommendations on matters related to the classification and training of trades. Phase two consultations will close on July 15, 2021. To anyone interested in taking part in the online consultation process can visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/skilled-trades-panel-consultations.

“We heard loud and clear from apprentices, journeypersons and employers alike that OCOT is not working,” said McNaughton. “Following our expert panel’s recommendations, we are taking a thoughtful and measured approach by launching Skilled Trades Ontario, a new agency that will put the trades first.”

McNaughton ended the live stream by confidently addressing the 100-plus viewers, stating “This is the right move.”

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