June 2, 2009

College of Trades

Report calls for 27-month implementation process for Ontario College of Trades

Proposed ratio and compulsory status review panels for the College of Trades should be rolled out before the actual institution is established, a report by the college’s implementation advisor recommends.

The report by Kevin Whitaker calls for a three-phase, 27-month process to get the institution up and running. In the first phase, proposed to last 12 months, a transitional board appointed by the province will appoint adjudicators to the three-person ratio and compulsory status panels.

The ratio review panel is to begin its work during this phase as well. In the second phase, the compulsory status review panel is to begin dealing with applications.

Karen Renkema

Whitaker arrived at the three-stage process based on stakeholder consultations, “lessons learned” by other startup self-governing agencies and the challenges of “detangling” functions and programs transferred to the college.

“These phases and their associated proposed timelines will help to address industry priorities while ensuring that the college is established in an effective and manageable way moving towards its successful introduction and ongoing operation,” Whitaker writes in his report.

It is in the third stage that the college’s governance structure will be fully established, a transition board becomes the appointments council, membership fees collection begins, additional required staff is recruited and the enforcement, complaints and discipline mechanisms and processes are implemented.

Pat Dillon

“Our question is, why are they rushing ratios and compulsory certification in the first two phases,” asks Karen Renkema, government relations director for the Ontario Road Builders’ Association (ORBA).

“Why can’t the college be fully implemented before they institute panels to deal with issues which historically, over 20 years, have been difficult for both government and industry to grapple with?”

The Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario also disagrees with the staging of the review panels as the first steps before creating the college itself. A major reason for setting up the college was to professionalize the trades and help parents and guidance counsellors recommend a career in the trades, it notes. Having explosive issues which generate negativity and conflict go first is not productive, the council says.

“This approach is absolutely wrong,” says Pat Dillon, Building Trades business manager. “There is no way they are going to deal with ratio and compulsory certification issues without some angst from one side or the other. If they wanted to have real positive spin about what the college is about and the first two issues are ones the government hasn’t been able to deal with for the last 30 years, it does not do the college any favours whatsoever.”

General college membership will begin by including all journeypersons and all employers of apprentices and journeypersons.

A $100 annual fee is recommended. These membership requirements are also a concern to ORBA, especially when it comes to being able to make representations to the compulsory status panel, adds Renkema.

ORBA’s members do not typically hire apprentices, unlike companies in areas such as plumbing or electrical, notes Renkema.

“If roadbuilders do not employ ‘traditional apprentices’ will their ability be capped to make representation in front of the compulsory certification panel if we have concerns,” Renkema says.

“If it is an issue of an industry concern, it should not matter if you are a member or not, because it is going to affect the whole industry.”

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