Canadian Manufacturing

Ontario College of Trades proponents take aim at opposition

Construction Trades Council of Ontario prez sets sights on Ontario Construction Employers Coalition



TORONTO—The back-and-forth over the impending Ontario College of Trades (OCT) continues, with a provincial trades council firing back at critics over their opposition to the regulatory institute.

Calling opponents’ views “extremely short-sighted and negligent,” Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario president Bill Nicholls took aim at members of the Ontario Construction Employers Coalition (OCEC).

“Ontarians should know that the College of Trades is a unique and progressive example of public policy that will serve the interests of workers, businesses and consumers to uphold our standard of living,” Nicholls said in a statement.

Nicholls, whose trades council represents 150,000 workers across the province, particularly targeted the Grand Valley Construction Association (GVCA) in his staunch support of the college.

“Borrowing from Tim Hudak’s white paper on ‘flexible labour markets,’ the GVCA’s position on the College is purely self-serving, showing disrespect for trades workers in the province,” he said.

Members of the OCEC—a group of more than 15 organizations led by the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA)—have taken exception in particular with the proposed OCT membership fee structure.

But Nicholls claims OCEC members who publicly oppose the college also have their members in its governance structure and will help make a final decisions about membership fees.

“After years of open stakeholder consultations, expert reports, public appointments and institution-building, it is a shame that some employers still continue to obstruct much-needed reforms to Ontario’s trades system—reforms that will be embodied by workers and employers finally working together to govern their own affairs and shape their future through the College of Trades,” Nicholls said.

In July, OCEC chair Sean Reid referred to the College as “nothing more than an $84-million tax” on trades workers.

Nicholls said the 2013 budget for the College is estimated at $20-million, not the $84 million projected by OCEC members, and contends calling the membership fees a tax is “intentionally misleading,” as the fees are not covered by taxpayers.

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