Ont. gov’t takes a step back on College of Trades

The Ontario College of Trades has begun winding down as promised by the provincial Conservative government. Certain powers have already shifted back to the minister of labour, training and skills development, Monte McNaughton. As of now, the college is still operating, but it remains to be seen for how long.

When the college system was created by the Liberal government back in 2009, it was set up as a self-regulated and industry funded entity. This model was chosen based on industry consultation and is similar to the College of Physicians or College of Teachers. However, many had issues with the fees associated with it.

I understand, here in Ontario, the government is all about cutting down on unnecessary costs. And I am all for saving us taxpayers money. Which is why I am a bit confused as to why the government has assumed costs that were originally part of the college system. This would seem like an obvious entity to keep operating. Though I suspect our industry will be happy with this move.

When I spoke with McNaughton for the full article on this topic, he reiterated multiple times in the interview that he wanted to simplify the trades system in order to attract more businesses to take on apprentices – lowering the apprentice to journeyman ratio to one to one was a good start.

From what I have heard from the minister, he seems to be making some good steps for the industry. I am leery about adding any type of “portable skill set” in the trades – this might be the right step for certain skilled trades, but I suspect this would be a bad move for our industry.

I believe that this would allow for an initial increase of skilled trades workers in the industry, but those workers would only be qualified to work in certain areas. This could increase the amount of people doing jobs that they shouldn’t be working on – because let’s face it, as much as it shouldn’t happen, it does. In turn, I suspect this would increase workplace related injuries.

It should be noted that at this moment portable skills set are not being pushed forward as it was suggested by the previous minister that looked after the trades, though it also hasn’t been ruled out.

Since McNaughton took over responsibilities for the trades, he has decided to not rush any decisions. Instead of just leaping right into the industry – which is a bit of a beast – he appears to be taking his time to better understand the nuances that make up the skilled trades. This will include a province-wide tour visiting with tradespeople right at the front line. Hopefully he takes what he learns and actually applies it to whatever type of system he develops.


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