Trade and code harmony

Trade organizations have been pushing for harmonization of building codes across Canada within municipalities and provinces for years. This would see each jurisdiction and province following one set of national building codes. The lack of harmonization causes issues for all levels of the industry from the manufacturers to the contractors.

Last fall, Bill Morneau, Canada’s finance minister, announced in the Fall Economic Statement, that the federal government is committed to the harmonization of building codes across Canada. This came part of the “Removing Barriers to Trade within Canada,” portion of the statement, aimed at strengthening freer trade within Canada.

The need for harmonization within the industry isn’t restricted to codes. There has also been a push for harmonization of trade training across the country.

The Red Seal Program was created back in 1952 following the first National Conference on Apprenticeship in Trades and Industries held in Ottawa. Its goal was for the provinces and territories to ask the federal government to work with the various Red Seal apprenticeship committees to prepare standards for the skilled trades.

In 2016, the Red Seal program began a new initiative to harmonize training of apprentices after plans didn’t necessarily go perfectly between the provinces. Among these changes, all apprentices across the country from Newfoundland to British Columbia will follow the same set of rules based on the changes. The goal of the program will be to align trade names, total training hours (in-class and on the jobsite), the number of training levels and sequencing of technical training content across all jurisdictions.

This had been the goal from the beginning of the program, but provinces shifted from the national program and developed their own models for certification and delivery of training. In our industry, plumbers, steamfitters, boilermakers, and refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics will be affected by the harmonization of apprenticeship training initiative. All except refrigeration and air conditioning mechanic have already been harmonized as to date. All recommendations are set to be implemented by Sept. 2020 with the next phase rollout taking place Sept. 2019.

The harmonization of both codes and apprenticeship training will be a win for the industry. It will bring us back to how the Red Seal Program was originally designed. This should remove some of the red tape that has caused unnecessary issues for tradespeople who are just trying to find work or educate themselves.


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The 25th IIR International Congress of Refrigeration
August 24 - 30, 2019

Palais des congrès de Montréal, Montréal, Québec. Please visit for more information.

HRAI Annual Conference
August 25 - 27, 2019

Sheraton on the Falls Hotel, Niagara Falls, Ontario. Please visit or call 1-800-267-2231 for more information.

Canadian Hydronics Conference
September 24 - 25, 2019

Ottawa Conference and Event Centre, Ottawa, Ontario. Please visit for more information

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