It’s Christmas!

That was the reaction of one contractor to news that the Ontario government at long last plans to reduce journeyman to apprentice ratios to one-to-one like every other jurisdiction in North America. He wasn’t alone.

If there is one issue that Ontario contractors have been harping about forever it is the requirement that they have three journeyman for every apprentice. Most provinces have been one-to-one pretty much forever and those working in the trades know that the normal way work is done is with a journeyman and a helper – i.e. apprentice. You don’t need a journeyman to carry pipe, usually.

The high ratios made it difficult for contractors to take on apprentices and created a brick wall that often prevented young people interested in a trade career from getting started. So why were they in place?

Most people blame the unions and their desire to control who comes into the trade. And the only people opposing the move to one-to-one are the unions who claim the quality of training will suffer. It’s difficult to understand that rationale; having each apprentice assigned to work with a specific journeyman should help. And what having a three-to-one ratio did mean was that two out of three journeymen didn’t have a helper. The mechanical trades are heavy work; it’s difficult to work alone.

Unions are also concerned that contractors will have apprentices doing work that should only be done by journeymen. But in the reality of day-to-day work on a job site, each person does what needs to be done and the apprentices with more aptitude for the work will move ahead quickly into the more complex jobs, as they should.

There are some situations where a one-to-one ratio might not work, but it’s now up to the employer to decide what works best.

The other news from the Ontario government is that it plans to wind down the College of Trades (OCOT), which oversees trade licensing. From its beginning in 2009 the OCOT has had an uneasy relationship with contractors. There were several issues. The failure to address ratios was one sore point. There were complaints about enforcement too.

Recently, OCOT had been working to address ratios and backing off on enforcement against legitimate contractors. But, at the end of the day, it was just one more authority that Ontario’s over-regulated contractors had to answer to and it’s doubtful that any of them shed a tear over the news that OCOT is going to be wound down.

Wait a minute; it really is Christmas! With that I would like to wish our readers and advertisers a wonderful Christmas and all the best in the New Year!


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AHR Expo
Jan. 14 - 16, 2019

Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, Georgia. Please visit for more information.

Feb. 19 - 21, 2019

Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada. Please visit for more information.

Construction Education Council Project Procurement and Strategies Conference
February 27 - March 1, 2018

Executive Royal Hotel, Calgary, Alberta. Please visit or contact Tania Johnston at 613-232-5169 or email

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