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October 8, 2010

New College of Trades special advisor outlines challenges

There is a specific challenge facing Ontario’s College of Trades that lays beyond the industry issues it is tasked to find solutions for, says college’s new special advisor.

“The initial challenge is to win the hearts and minds of the doubters,” said Scott Macivor. “The work we will do now gives us an opportunity to at least have that first shot at demonstrating value.”

Macivor was recently hired as the college’s special advisor and will work with the college’s appointments council/transitional board of governors to set up required policies and procedures and find members for the college’s first official board of governors, four divisional boards and various trade boards.

Scott Macivor

“We need to make sure those on the board are the appropriate mix of people and represent all the trade interests, in some way or form,” he said. “We have to make sure everyone is heard.”

The college is a professional regulatory college for the province’s apprenticeship and skilled trades system and is expected to be fully operational by 2012. The provincial government hopes that between now and 2012 the council will establish a framework of fees to support the college and develop a complaints, enforcement and discipline system to help the college govern its members.

“We have construction trades at one end, then service trades at the other, which are much smaller and tend to be voluntary, which perceive the whole idea of the college through different eyes,” said Macivor.

As Macivor and the appointments council begin setting up the operational side of the college they are also moving forward with public consultations on the compulsory trade process and applications for apprentice ratios reviews. Some construction industry stakeholders have questioned why these reviews need to take place before the college is even up and running. The province has said it wants to tackle these long-standing issues as quickly as possible.

“Because it is specific under the (provincial) legislation for the college, we feel comfortable in moving to have consultation on these specifics so we can start providing that service, whether it is under the appointments council or the new board of governors,” Macivor said.

“There is no particular reason to hold back one of the most important things, from a private-sector view, of what the college is about.”

Macivor served for 10 years as the chief executive officer of the Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS) and is president of SCOMAC Facilitators. He noted that his position with the college is temporary and once his work is done, he will step aside.

The Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCAC) said that Macivor’s tenure at OCS means the new college special advisor spent a decade “advocating exclusively for a select group of trade unions and employers”.

“He’ll now have to work hard to show he can serve the interests of all tradespeople and employers,” said Sean Reid, Ontario director of PCAC.

“We look forward to working with him in this regard.”

The Ontario Road Builders’ Association (ORBA) said it is positive that Macivor has stepped into his new role understanding a part of the construction industry, from his experience working with the ICI unionized construction industry.

“We expect as he moves forward in this role that he will be able to work with, and take into consideration, the needs of all construction stakeholders — whether it be unionized/non-union or ICI and heavy civil,” said Karen Renkema, director of government relations with ORBA.

Pat Dillon, business manager of the Ontario Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, also believes Macivor’s previous construction industry experience is a positive step for the college.

“He has worked with government and for labour management groups in construction,” said Dillon. “I think it is an asset to have him there. He knows that construction, when it comes to trades training and labour relations, is a broad and varied marketplace.”

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