Consideration of Bill 55, An Act to revise the Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act / Projet de loi 55, Loi révisant la Loi sur la qualification professionnelle et l'apprentissage des gens de métier.
The Chair (Mr John O'Toole): Good morning. We're happy to be in the lucky city of Windsor to start the second day of hearings on Bill 55. I'll call the first group, the Essex and Kent Counties Building and Construction Trades Council.
Mr Wayne Lessard (Windsor-Riverside): On a point of order, Mr Chair: I just want, on my own behalf and on behalf of the people here in Windsor, to welcome the committee to our community to have these hearings.
I know that at the subcommittee level there was some reluctance to come to Windsor and that the only way we were going to have these hearings was if we had half a day in Windsor and half a day in Hamilton. I want to acknowledge the work that Steve Gilchrist did to put forward a motion that we have a full day here in Windsor to hear from people about how they feel about Bill 55.
I think what we'll hear from people is, they'll join with me in saying that Bill 55 should be shelved. People are going to say, "Don't cut the heart, don't cut the future out of our trade," and that you should go back to the drawing board, have meaningful consultation and bring forward legislation that's going to help young people and apprentices in our community.
I appreciate the delegation this morning from the Essex and Kent Counties Building and Construction Trades Council. Welcome, and please introduce yourself to the members of the committee as well as for the Hansard record. You have 20 minutes to use as you wish.
Mr Dick Pearn: Good morning. My name is Dick Pearn. I'm the president of the Essex and Kent Counties Building and Construction Trades Council. I'm the business manager for UA local 552, Windsor, for the trades of plumbers, steamfitters and apprentices. I serve as chairman of my union's joint apprenticeship council and I have also sat as a labour representative on the provincial advisory committee for the certified trades of plumber and steamfitter whenever required to do so.
Members of the hearing committee for Bill 55, ladies and gentlemen, I appear before you today to speak against the proposed changes to the tradesmen's qualification act as they are outlined in Bill 55.
As I see it, these changes would at the very least remove a minimum requirement for an education standard to enter a trade; force apprentices to pay tuition fees; eliminate the minimum mandatory wage percentage for apprentices as they apply to journeyperson rates; remove apprentice-to-journeyman ratios; drop the stipulated term or duration of apprenticeship; eliminate compulsory certification; fragment the trades into skill sets or modularized training.
I am speaking as a representative of labour and will provide you with my perception of labour's position on these subjects proposed in Bill 55. The gentleman to my right, sharing my allotment of time, is Mr John Fahringer from the Mechanical Contractors Association of Windsor. He will no doubt provide you with his view from a contractor's perspective and as a construction employer.
I represent some 320 plumbers, steamfitters and apprentices in the Essex and Kent counties area and I am here to convey their concerns to you as well as my own. They feel that Bill 55 will demean the trades they have learned and the supplementary training achievements they embraced to prepare themselves to be skilled contributors to the construction industry. They feel that Bill 55 and its intent will compromise safety, create an unstable workplace and diminish their chances for continuity of work.
Both plumber and steamfitter trades are, as you know, two of the few compulsory certified trades within the construction industry. They received that designation for very good reasons. Public health and safety would be probably the most obvious; personal safety for the installers and for those around them when repairs or modifications are necessary would be another.
Both trades control and effect the installation of simple and complex piping systems. These systems convey items such as high-pressure steam, potable water, hot water, gases of all kinds, high-pressure air, sewage and sewer gases, process products, gasoline and other products, and the list goes on. The scope of work even extends into medical gas installations in hospitals, laboratory services and other medical environments.
All the above are potential killers if not installed and maintained in a professional, uncompromising manner. How could any government rationalize justification to trivialize the importance of these essential commodities to all levels of the public?
Not only must the work conform oftentimes to strict specifications; it must also be performed in conjunction with all safety regulations set down by provincial law. In today's construction world, working safely has become one of the most significant factors in the working life of the construction worker.
Whether these systems are installed on the ground, under the ground or 50 feet in the air, it is incumbent upon the installer to perform the work in accordance with the specification requirements and in keeping with all safety regulations, I might add, at the risk of personal prosecution for any breach of these regulations.
A person trained to perform a fragment of the trade with a skill set or just the completion of a module under his belt would not meet the needs of modern construction. Then there would be the cost of providing safety training for the numbers of employees that trade fragmentation will create.
Teamwork and intertrade coordination is also a factor in the construction industry. When the well-being of your fellow worker is placed in your hands in a job site scenario, you must be able to assess a situation and be confident that all is well before attempting any manoeuvre. These qualities are not often attributable to an under-educated school leaver. It is therefore essential that a minimum standard of education be maintained in order for any trainee to enter an apprenticeship program. One can only assume that the introduction of skill sets would provide only repetitious duties for the trainee. Repetition produces boredom and encourages a lack of concentration.
A person equipped with only a skill set or modularized training would have no place in the arena of a full-blown construction site. Furthermore, students and/or persons preparing to enter the workplace ought not to be duped into believing that acquiring a skill set will transform them into a skilled tradesperson ready for the construction world. Instead, they should be encouraged to make that extra effort to acquire the required grade to enter one of the trades as we know them today.
We feel that tuition fees would be a most unfair imposition on an apprentice. Within the grand scheme of things, apprentices pay their full share of personal income tax, pension, compensation premiums, EI premiums, welfare benefit coverage and so on. All throughout their apprenticeship periods they make all the standard monetary contributions to our social programs. They often have a family to support during the course of their contractual requirements. Extra burdens such as tuition fees could only serve to diminish the interests of a young person and discourage him or her from entering any contractual relationship.
This brings me to the percentages of a journeyperson's pay that an apprentice should receive during the various periods of his or her apprenticeship. To be expected to bind oneself to a contract or commit to a training program and not be aware of what your employer is obliged to pay would be both one-sided and most unreasonable. Only the vulnerable would venture into such an arrangement. I believe, therefore, it is essential that wage percentages of apprentice to journeyperson should and must continue to be mandated and enforceable throughout the apprenticeship.
I can see that there may be some room to expand the numbers of apprentices in certain scenarios; however, the teaching journeyperson must also be a productive employee for the employer. Teaching proper skills in a job site environment can be both tedious and time-consuming. It is the responsibility of the journeyperson to provide the practical education for the apprentice.
Only a small percentage of tradespersons on any given project would possess the special skills required to pass on their knowledge and be productive. With that being the case, surely it would be counterproductive to any employer's workplace economics to overload any project with trainees. Established ratios achieve an acceptable level of production and should not be eliminated by any amendment to the tradesmen's qualification act.
The duration of time that a trainee is bound to a deed of apprenticeship is also a topic of compromise if Bill 55 were to be enacted. I know first-hand the effect that technological change has had on the industry of construction. In my opinion, with all the new developments, together with legislated safety requirements, some apprenticeship periods could well be extended.
I can only add, at the risk of being repetitive, that to meet the needs of the majority of the employers and their clients on projects in and around Essex and Kent counties we must be able to produce an all-round skilled tradesperson.
In a quote from a newspaper recently, a statement was made that the regulations for the trades of plumber and steamfitter have not been changed or amended since 1954. The truth is that they have been constantly monitored and changed where necessary via the provincial advisory committees acting on behalf of the provincial government. I have been proud to serve on these PACs, together with a number of employers, and under government chairmanship. Healthy discussions with viewpoints from both labour and management always produced a means to improve upon what was already there. Recommendations were made at the committee level and usually adopted into practice.
Locally, the united associations, Essex and Kent counties joint apprenticeship council, also play a major role in providing local industry with the calibre of tradesperson required to meet the ever-changing technology. I have been proud to witness the yearly graduations of trained plumbers and steamfitters in my organization.
Our local council, comprised of an equal number of labour and management trustees, has closely monitored the construction industry's needs, enhancing skills with new courses where necessary. As providers of training, we perceived that our role was to maintain, and improve where possible, our training program to stay abreast of technological change. Never once has management told us that a person skilled in only one area of a trade would be advantageous.
We believe that it should be the role of government to continue to improve on established trade regulations, which are incidentally envied and admired by many training programs throughout the world. We of the building trades of Essex and Kent counties have always responded positively to the needs of our contractors and their clients when furnishing skilled personnel.
We have played our role in partnership with government. Why are they betraying us? We know that our apprenticeship training programs are in great shape, and the government should assist in fine-tuning those programs, not dismantling them. I encourage the Conservative government, or any other government for that matter, to not embark upon a course of deregulation by enacting Bill 55. It is their sworn duty as representatives of the people to preserve and protect our quality of life. The public at large, at minimum, should retain the right to expect the services of certified, licensed people when required, not a watered-down handyman who will give their problem his best try. Bill 55 must be scrapped in its entirety.
Mr John Fahringer: My name is John Fahringer. I'm here having had experience in the construction industry dealing with apprentices over the past 40 years. I'm proud to say that I'm a licensed journeyman myself and have served previously on the PAC for the province. I'm here representing the MCAW, the Mechanical Contractors Association of Windsor. I'd like to say that Mr Pearn has done a wonderful job making his presentation. It makes my job a lot easier, sitting beside him and concurring with everything he has said. There are a couple of points that I'll make very briefly to support his position, and then perhaps leave it for a question-and-answer period.
We are most concerned about these revisions. We see a great deal of difficulty with training the uneducated to become skilled workers. Eliminating wage fluctuations of apprentices will only make it more difficult for us in dealing with the unscrupulous contractors that we must at times compete with.
Ratios to journeymen allow proper on-the-job training and give the apprentice a full cycle of training. Apprenticeship time is very short now, as Dick has suggested, and the new skills being added constantly will make it very difficult to get the trained people we must have. Non-compulsory certification opens the door to lack of training and education and results in unskilled workers completing unsatisfactory jobs for the ill-advised public. Small businesses and rural areas would suffer most by lack of complete tradesmen.
Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Mr Fahringer, you've been involved with the PAC, historically, so you've got some history of working with government in developing changes to bills and laws to better the industry. Can you give me some sense of what the consultation process was like on this particular bill?
Mrs Pupatello: No, the whole consultation process about this bill. This is quite interesting, because for one of the few times with this Conservative government we actually have employers and skilled trades agreeing on what the government is doing in terms of this change in Bill 55: Everyone is opposed to it. So we're trying to figure out who on earth told them to do this.
Mr Pearn: I think they came out of the blue. It came out of the blue as far as we're concerned. It's something that hit us all of a sudden. It might have crept up on us without us really realizing it was creeping up on us, but it came out of the blue.
Mrs Pupatello: On the matter of tuition, for example, some of the information they had from surveys -- because they're saying they have to get more people into skilled trades. Their own surveys that they had done indicated that half the people, had they been charged the tuitions that the government is now advancing, simply wouldn't have been able to go into the program. I don't know what comment you have to that, but it seems contrary to the purpose that they're making changes in the first place supposedly to get more people into skilled trades, but then they advance hurdles to keep people out of the trades. Any comments?
Mr Lessard: I want to thank you very much for your presentation this morning. We agree that Bill 55 is a framework for lower standards, for lower wages, less funding and higher fees. It's bad news for apprentices and it's bad news for young people in the province of Ontario. I'm pleased to see that there are so many apprentices here with you today to support your presentation, because I think they see what Bill 55 is going to mean for their future and they're genuinely concerned about it. This government has indicated that in the next election a part of their agenda is to attack unionized labour, and I think Bill 55 is a part of that attack.
Mr Bruce Smith (Middlesex): Thank you, gentlemen, for your presentation this morning. I just want to indicate to you at the outset that nowhere in Bill 55 is the provision established to pursue tuition fees. In fact, the Minister of Education and Training is on record as saying no tuition fees will be introduced in this province until we have a negotiated labour mobility agreement with the federal Liberal government. I just want to make that clear to you because I think you suggest that that is contained in the bill.
One of the goals of Bill 55 is to have greater industry involvement. Why shouldn't your industry have greater involvement in terms of determining the skill sets, what comprises the trade of plumber, for example, and how that trade should be certified? Why shouldn't that be done by you yourself, a professional person, as well as by employers.
Mr Pearn: I believe the PACs as they were constructed were working very well. I don't think any expansion on that is necessary. It was a joint management-labour effort with government supervision, and I thought the PACs worked very well. We didn't stop the PACs.
Mr Lynne Adams: Mr O'Toole and committee members, my name is Lynne Adams. I'm a member of the CAW local 200, a toolmaker journeyman employed at Ford who began my apprenticeship in 1969. I am a member of the joint apprenticeship committee at Ford of Canada, Windsor site. As an avid supporter of skilled trades within the plants and community, I believe I am qualified to address this forum on the proposed changes to the apprenticeship act, referred to as Bill 55. I have read the act and have concerns that I will expand on.
It is agreed that the present projected shortage of skilled trades in the next two to seven years will be 14,700, as per the Windsor Star, April 24, 1998, comprising 42% of the manufacturing workforce, 66% greater than the number expected to enter the workforce in this period. As the headline suggests, this is a crisis. Bill 55 will not alleviate this problem. A short-term fix will only postpone a future need for employees skilled in the completeness that the present apprenticeship program ensures.
History shows that the Industrial Revolution created the modern factory, a technological network whose workers were not required to be artisans. "Technology" is based on the Greek word "tekhne," which refers to an art or craft, and "logia," meaning an area of study. Thus, "technology" means literally the study or science of crafting. The factory system became a work institution of men, women and children, just another commodity in the production process, with the single purpose of creating a greater profit for the owners. We are entering a new industrial revolution, promoting menial tasks with no sense of gratification.
The proposed changes in Bill 55 will remove the percentage wage rate and the employer will only pay the market minimum wage. I believe that Bill 55 threatens a quality of life that has meaning, freedom of choice, a human sense of scale and an equal chance for justice and individual creativity, as suggested by the British economist E.F. Schumacher.
Technology is the application of fundamental tools and processes. Indeed, the concept that science provides the ideas for technological innovations and that pure research is therefore essential for any significant advancement in industrial civilization is essentially a myth. The steam engine, for example, was commonplace before the science of thermodynamics. Only differing educational requirements, methodology, monetary rewards and professional goals define the differences between science and technology. The point is, most of the inventions of modern man came not from science but from visionaries with a vast knowledge base.
The comprehensive study done by Karen Hood states that a program must have multiple instructors. A skill learned from a single instructor has a poor chance of retention. Retention of skills is greatly increased though multiple instructors. A single instructor can only relate and expect skill absorption of 70% in any field.
Educators know that skills are learned through three methods: auditory, visual and mnemonics -- hands-on -- repetition. If a skill set is taught by a single instructor, the probability of skill retention is reduced, leading to a general degrading of skill levels. The solution to the crisis is not diluting the skill base, as the German-American psychologist Kurt Lewin also demonstrated.
The report A Nation at Risk, issued by the US Department of Education in 1983, and the 1996 report of the Department of Education's National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, cited several barriers to improved teaching in the United States. This study is comparable to the needs in Ontario that Bill 55 does not address, such as inadequate education programs and poor recruitment methods.
I suggest the following: (1) for all apprentices to be taught by experts who have the knowledge, skills and commitment to teach; (2) for all apprenticeship education programs to meet national standards; and (3) for all experts to have access to high-quality professional development.
I have spoken to students at career days in the local secondary education system promoting apprenticeships as a career. Today's young adults are smart. They know what's going on. If they see no advantage to apprenticing, why would they? These grade 10 through grade 12 students were amazed at the opportunity that a skilled trade could offer when approached. Some have investigated this as a career choice, others were curious, but the majority would not even consider a skilled trade a career. Why? The schools promote higher learning, that you must get a university degree or there is the belief that only menial jobs are there for you.
My daughter graduated from university this spring. During the convocation ceremony, the president stated in his address that if you do not have a post-secondary education, you are doomed to a minimum-wage career. Why is this biased attitude promoted in our school system? I say, only through ignorance.
(1) Wages: The opportunity must be there to receive a better-than-minimum wage, with the prospect for greater wages in the foreseeable future and the opportunity to make better-than-average wages during a career.
(3) A completion or finish date: If an employer has the ability to control the rate of completion based on any criteria other than skill retention and proficiency, the length of an apprenticeship becomes questionable.
An apprenticeship is a proven system of learning the skills of a craft or trade from experts in the field by working with them for a stipulated period of time. The act is proposing to weaken the craft base to no more than a series of task accumulations. The act does not consider the historically proven value of apprenticeships. The Ford apprentice experience dates back to the pre-war era. The Ford Trade School was probably the first organized skilled trades development program in the city. Its basis was not on skill sets but on graduating an individual with a broad craft base.
The apprenticeship standards formulated by the CAW skilled trades department is a good basic example the act should follow. The standards were refined with the single purpose of apprenticeship development within an industrial environment.
Locally, the joint Ford and CAW program is a model of success. It promotes completeness of skill learning by rotation into each plant site and areas within each plant where skilled trade journeypersons practise their profession. Using multiple resources, which include supervisors, engineers and other skilled trade journeypersons, the apprentice is exposed to various methods of resolution for a single problem. This method maintains a multiple skill base for recollection and variability in problem-solving for future situations.
As the brief supplied shows, the suggested exposure in each area, including hours, is highlighted. Also, any special area of unique learning is suggested for each plant. This program is not perfect, but it ensures that a graduate apprentice has the ability to apply his various experts' knowledge bases to new experiences and new technologies.
As a father and grandfather with the desire that my offspring have the same opportunity to enjoy the privileges and benefits that a career in the skilled trades offer, I am greatly concerned with these proposed changes to a program that works.
The act is proposing a method of certification by skill set, but having many people proficient in a single task is only a short-term solution. Why would an employer hire a person who completed a whole apprenticeship when a short-term need is met with a skill set employee? When all the apprenticeship graduates have retired and moved into other careers and the employers are in desperate need of a master skilled tradesperson, there will be none. Then we will have another crisis, only this time the expertise will have disappeared. That vacuum cannot be filled with skill set employees.
The act is focused on mentoring. Mentoring is serving as a guide, counsellor and teacher for another person usually in an academic or occupational capacity. The difference between multiple experts and a single teacher will have a negative effect. Therefore, I believe that the journeypersons' craft base will lead to a loss of the technological base for developing new ideas, inventions and an improvement in the quality of life.
How will Bill 55 be monitored? The proposed fines will be nothing but the cost of doing business, if caught. I suggest that the true cost will be a loss of creativity, inventiveness and, more important, the loss of life from unskilled labour. How many of us want to be in a airplane that has been maintained by a skill set employee? Not me.
Return the provincial funding for apprenticeships; increase the promotion of skilled trade apprenticeships in the schools, beginning at the elementary level; add more co-op opportunities; and increase the number of openings by mandating a ratio of apprentices to skilled journeymen.
Mr Lessard: Thank you very much for your presentation, Lynne. I think that too often laws are passed by people who don't have the experience you have. I think that oftentimes it's necessary for government members to get on to the shop floor to see life with the experience you have as a journeyperson so that they know what the impacts of the changes are that they're introducing. I appreciate your bringing us the perspective of what it's like as a journeyperson in an auto factory in Windsor.
Mr Adams: I don't support any amendments to it. We missed the opportunity here years ago for promoting skilled trades. We should have been doing this years ago. We have to get back into the act as it is now. There's nothing wrong with it. We just haven't promoted skilled trades in the elementary schools or at the secondary level. It has not been promoted. If you read Karen Hood, the study she did on teaching methods is very interesting. A single instructor cannot teach a student skills unless he is a teacher who's been taught the different methods. You can't do it. They're going to lose something. That's the fear, that they're going to lose.
Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): Thank you for your presentation. I agree with Mr Lessard saying that industry certainly has a better handle on what is required in apprenticeship programs and skill sets and skill development and all that, and government doesn't. The minister has been on record, our government has been on record saying that it is the industry that should determine what the skill sets are, and you mentioned the certification and all that. That isn't changing. That is there now and it will continue to be there. We are looking for input through the PACs, the employers and employees, and the industry. That's not changing whatsoever.
You talked about the wages and your concern with respect to what happens there. We already have wage rates that are absent in 36 trades, so they have developed with the employers, the employees and the trade. They've developed those standards, so that isn't being taken away.
Based on that, wouldn't you agree that you, as an apprentice or as an employer or an employee or being involved in the industry, would want more of a say in what happens in the apprenticeship program?
Mr Adams: Unfortunately, you used the words "skill set" in the same context as an apprenticeship program. They don't have the same meaning, in my interpretation. The apprenticeship program stands today with the minimum wage or with 50% of the journeyman's rate as a starting point. That's what I believe. I don't know the old act.
But using "skill set" in the same terminology and in the same sentence as "apprenticeship" is a misnomer. It is not the same. Let me give you an example. It would be like having a doctor whose skill set is bandaging a wound. He doesn't know anything about the circulatory system. This is what you're trying to do to the apprenticeship program, just making an individual have responsibilities for a skill set. The skill set is a dilution of the trade. He won't know, he won't have the background knowledge to be able to get into and understand the basis of new technology.
Mr David Caplan (Oriole): Thank you very much for your presentation. By way of opening comment, I would just say that I've heard two questions from government members about things which are in this bill, which in fact are not.
It's a nine-page bill. It basically says, "Trust me." My friend opposite here said that all these things will be protected. None of that language is in this bill. My friend beside me here said that there will be a greater role for industry. In fact, the current role in the trades qualification act says that provincial advisory committees shall be able to advise the government on all matters pertaining to apprenticeship. The current language says that the provincial advisory committees will have the ability "To promote high standards in the delivery of apprenticeship programs." I would say that's quite a bit different. You have a much more comprehensive role in the existing legislation.
I think you're quite correct that there seems to be a bias against getting young people into the trades. In general regulation now in the trades qualifications act there exists a minimum grade 10 standard. That's being totally removed. Do you think that is going to encourage more people to take a look at the trades, or is that going to further create a barrier or a stigma because now you're not going on to post-secondary education; now you're going to settle for something because you can't hack it? How do you think that's going to play in young people's minds when they take a look at all of their different career options?
Mr Adams: I believe that the rationalization for the grade 10 minimum requirement is reasonable. Lowering the requirement of a base education for entry into an apprenticeship program is not necessarily a good idea. From reading the act, I think the reason the education requirement was lowered was to encourage people into a skill set type of occupation. If you investigate the craft and what the craft is and the skilled trades part of a job, there has to be some basis in mathematics and science, and a grade 10 education is a reasonable requirement for that.
The problem is that academia has never looked at working with your hands as an appropriate career. When you have a university president stating that you need 17 years of education to have any type of a job, that just shows to me that that poor man has never been outside in the real world, and I feel sorry for him. I really do.
Mr Gerard Charette: Good morning, Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, members of the Liberal, New Democratic and Conservative caucuses. Thanks for giving me the opportunity of speaking to you this morning. By the way, I agree with the last gentleman who just said a lot about our attitudes about training. I want to get into that a little bit more. I think we really have to get behind the students who want to get into skilled trades, because there are wonderful opportunities. I agree exactly with what he said, especially about our attitudes about university education.
My name is Gerard Charette. I'm married, and I live in Amherstburg and work in Windsor. I have been proud to serve the tool and die industry for the last 20 years or so as a lawyer. I am currently a member of the board of directors of Reko International Group, which is one of our large tool and die manufacturers in town. In fact, I brought with me this morning the prospectus for the initial public offering that I had the pleasure of working on with Reko. It raised $22 million on the Toronto Stock Exchange back in 1994, and this is a copy of the prospectus. The company continues to do very well.
In our prospectus -- let me start with that if I may -- it says something important about training. This company went to the public, went to the people of Ontario primarily, and said, "We want you to invest $20 million in our company, and here is part of what we want to do with it." I'm quoting directly from the prospectus:
"The company has developed a new training program to be implemented in the fall of 1994 and which will continue into 1995." Indeed, I can attest that it is ongoing. "The training program will involve drawing upon engineering graduates and students from St Clair Community College and the University of Windsor as an additional source of trainees. It will organize training into functional groups."
We talk about skill sets. What are people? What's their function? How can they fit in? One thing I can tell you is that when Reko trains an employee in one area, it automatically thinks about getting them trained in another area. Frequently the best tool and die makers are the people who start down on the floor and, as the gentleman who just finished said, they know it from the ground up. They know how to work with their hands. They make wonderful CAD/CAM tool and die designers. They're fantastic, because they understand how this thing works.
Reko's training program sought to organize its staff into functional training groups -- injection mould, die and fixture designers and CAM programmers -- using top designers and group leaders, each design group as an on-the-job teacher. We teach on the floor, and it works very well.
Just another comment. The thing about grade 10 kids is that we have a large number of people in our society, young people especially, who for one reason or another haven't been able to make it in an academic program, and a part of it may be because our schools don't focus on skilled trades as a method by which you become educated and as a method by which you sustain yourself.
Industry is willing and ready to take these young kids in and help them move up the ladder. If we say, "Look, we're not going to require a grade 10 certification," that's not necessarily a bad thing, because it lets people get on the bottom rung of the ladder and move up. In industry and in my own field, it's train, train, train, and it's a lot of fun. I think the idea of eliminating artificial barriers to young people who want to enter industry is a good thing. Industry has a responsibility to train them, and they have a responsibility to train themselves, but I think the two people can do it.
Let me just finish off with this. The other element of the program is that Reko has undertaken to train, on a six-month cycle, the first set of trainees received into basic training. It sounds like the army, and that's exactly what it is, because people are learning how to improve themselves and how to multiply their abilities. The company had anticipated that by 1996 it would have trained approximately 15 to 20 new CAD designers and CAM programmers. It has done that. It has gone forward.
I can say one thing: As a lawyer, my big job is to get out of the way. I have heard a lot of my clients, frankly, complain about bureaucratic regulations: "Let industry set the standards with the workers." That's a big reason why I support this bill, because we've got to stand back and let the people know what needs to be done and we will see education happen throughout this province.
Let me return to my comments, if I may. With my own employees, I see it at work in the law program. We have training programs on Microsoft Word, group dynamics, computers. I've had a secretary for the last three years who has worked two days a week for me because she is working for her husband, who started a tool and die shop in Windsor. We use flex-time, we use all kinds of things. But when people are co-operating, as they naturally do, we don't need a lot of top-down, heavy bureaucratic regulations, and that's another reason why I support this bill. This young lady, who has four kids, her husband and a partner started a small tool and die shop, and they're going gangbusters. It's because of this ability to get out and start a business.
I go back to the idea that our schools are not getting the message out, not yet, that a skilled trade, I don't care what it is, is an opportunity for a fulfilling and rewarding career. We have to change these attitudes that you necessarily have to go to university. Sure, we need some university grads, but I think the strength of our country lies in good part in recognizing the skilled trades.
Our training systems must be open and flexible, and that's why I support the bill. I don't think the bill needs minimum requirements about wages and ratios of journeymen to apprentices. These things can be worked out on a case-by-case basis. The last thing we need is some bureaucrat in Toronto -- and I think the government recognizes this -- setting down some type of standard. We need flexibility. That's why I mentioned flexibility in my own workplace. We have to have site-specific solutions to these problems. If we're hampered by bureaucratic, province-wide regulations, it just doesn't help. It's so important that we focus on training. We can leave labour matters to other areas, such as labour laws and collective bargaining.
Mr Charette: I think the market will create a lot of good-paying, skilled jobs. Windsor has been a wonderful asset to this province. I compliment my friends listening behind me. I wish they would let me finish.
I also support the bill because it lets part-time workers into the system. It's so critical that we let people in. I use the example of people who are working part-time, maybe driving a cab or something. They want to get into industry and improve their standards. It's such a wonderful opportunity. I would encourage all of us in industry to recognize that if we let someone in, it doesn't mean someone else loses a job. This industry in Windsor is expanding so much. When you look at the size of our industry 10 years ago, it has multiplied so many times. People don't have to get kicked out of a job because someone else has one. It's that old socialist thinking that people have. They think it's a zero-sum world; if someone wins, that means someone has to lose. It's just not true.
Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): Thank you, Mr Charette. In my area of Chatham-Kent, especially in the town of Wallaceburg, there's a tremendous shortage of skilled tradespeople. In the tool and die industry, obviously southwestern Ontario does a more than proportionate share of the tool and die work and the mould work and so on and is desperately short of skilled trades workers.
The purpose clause of Bill 55, the first clause, states, "The purposes of this act are to support and regulate the acquisition of occupational skills through workplace-based apprenticeship programs that lead to formal certification, and thereby to expand opportunities for Ontario workers and increase the competitiveness of Ontario businesses."
Do you have any idea, with that as the overall purpose of the act, stated very clearly in the opening paragraph of the act, why we seem to be having so much opposition? Is that not a worthwhile purpose for the workers of Ontario?
Mr Charette: It is. Frankly, I think this bill is just an automatic -- and I was surprised by the number of people here opposing the bill; I really was. I guess, Jack, basically people want the status quo. They're afraid of change and they don't see the opportunities that lie there. There are opportunities there.
Mrs Pupatello: Mr Charette, we were pleased to finally get committees back in Windsor, because we've had a bit of a dry spell over the last couple of years while the government refused to bring committees to Windsor. Thanks to some enormous effort, we're back in town.
Mrs Pupatello: I'm sorry, I don't mean to be glib, but you keep talking about how you need to make the changes to streamline, make things that will work on-site for companies, very individualistic. But all the bill does is confer more powers on the minister to make regulation change; it's not power to the company or power to the people, as you're purporting. All of the bill is about regulation change that gives power to the minister. This is about doing things in the backroom and having them just happen without anybody knowing. I'm surprised, given your previous comments, that you would support that kind of centralization; every section of the bill is about giving power to the minister.
Mr Charette: Sandra, the only problem with your question is that I recognize that the attitude of this government is to keep its hands off and to free industry and workers. When these regulations come out, I am confident that they're going to be much less bureaucratic than anything we've seen in the past. I trust that will be done.
Mrs Pupatello: I wanted to comment too that you gave us a couple of examples of all these things that are happening that are so wonderful. At your own company, at Reko tool where you're a board member, those things are happening under the current framework, not the changed one. If all of that is so terrific, why are you purporting that this needs to be done?
Mr Charette: Because I still, and this is true, hear a lot of complaints from the men and women I work with in the tool industry that there's still too much bureaucratic regulation. There is still too much. They could do so much more.
Mr Lessard: We've been asking the government to table the regulations for a number of months now because this has "Trust me" written all over it. This government has a problem with trust right now and I think if they would table those regulations, it would do at least a little bit to try and restore the trust of some of the people who are here today.
I'm a lawyer as well and I want to ask you this question, lawyer to lawyer. You're talking about supportive skill sets. Would you support a system where lawyers were only trained to do wills or lawyers were only trained to do divorces and they could say that they're lawyers?
Mr Charette: We have paralegals, we have specialists, we have a lot of people who have certain defined skill sets. There are vast areas of law that I don't work in. I work in a couple of narrow areas. It's the same thing in industry. We need to get people with one skill set and then we build, we keep on adding. People don't just take one training program and stop. It's lifelong, it's ongoing, so don't take a negative view of this thing.
Mr Lessard: You're talking about working out the details of training arrangements on a case-by-case basis. For those people who are protected by strong collective agreements and strong unions, they're going to make sure that they have those protections in their agreements, those artificial barriers that you're talking about that should be eliminated. But for a lot of people who don't have that support, who don't have strong collective bargaining agents, they're going to be out there on their own. What is a 16-year-old apprentice who hasn't even finished grade 10 supposed to do when he's negotiating with an employer as to his training program? What sort of equity and bargaining position is going to be there? Do you think he's going to need a lawyer to negotiate for him?
Mr Charette: The biggest challenge now is that we have companies in Michigan that are raiding all our employees. They've got 3% or 4% unemployment over there. Believe me, they will do well. There is a competitive market out there and they will upgrade their skills. If they're not happy where they're at, there are plenty of opportunities, and their employers know that.
The Chair: Excuse me. Just a note of caution. I would like to hear and I'm sure all members of the committee would like to hear the presentations. Of course, there will be differences. That's what the hearing in democracy is about. As a courtesy, we should listen. I'm not lecturing, but I would caution members of the committee. You know the rules, better than the others in attendance perhaps, and I will have to call a recess. But I do want to listen, all members do, to all of the input this morning. With that statement, I would like to move to the next --
The Chair: With that, I call the Ontario Provincial Council of the International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades, local 1494. Good morning, gentlemen. For the record, if you would introduce yourselves, you have 20 minutes to use as you wish.
Mr Kevin Elliott: Good morning. I would like to thank the committee for the opportunity to present a presentation on Bill 55. My name is Kevin Elliott. I am the business manager of the International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades, local 1494, representing painters, glaziers and drywall tapers and their apprentices in Essex and Kent counties. I sit on the glazier/metal mechanic PAC for the province and I am a trustee of the Ontario Painter and Decorator Training Centre. That centre provides most of the apprenticeship training for painters and decorators and journeyman upgrading in the province through its centres in Markham, Thunder Bay and Windsor.
I am accompanied by John Maceroni, the administrator and training director of our training centre. Also in attendance today are numerous members of local 1494, both journeypersons and apprentices. I intend to read a short statement and then would be pleased to answer any of your questions.
The government's Bill 55 proposes to repeal the current Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act and replace it with the new Apprenticeship and Certification Act, 1998. The change in the name is indicative of some of the problems with Bill 55, the main problem being that it seems to be shifting away from the true sense of what it means to be an apprentice.
Dictionary definitions of an apprentice all point out that an apprentice is a person learning a trade or craft under a skilled worker. The key words here are "trade" or "craft" and the current act clearly focuses on these words as they are reflected right in the title of the act, that being, the Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act. Bill 55, however, defines an apprentice as an individual who is to receive workplace-based training in an occupation or skill set. The word "trade" is not found in this definition. In fact, the word "trade" only appears once in Bill 55, as part of the definition of "occupation."
Bill 55 appears to be removing the age-old tradition of having tradespeople impart their knowledge and experience to apprentices to ensure that they properly learn all aspects of a trade. This not only includes learning the trade skills but also important elements such as health and safety considerations. By focusing on learning skill sets and moving away from trade qualification, Bill 55 risks flooding the construction marketplace with individuals who have limited skill set knowledge without fully appreciating all the facets of a particular trade; in short, Jacks and Jills of all trades and masters and mistresses of none.
Limited skill set knowledge means limited job prospects, inefficient and improper trade performance and increased potential for work-related injuries. It goes without saying that a worker with limited skill sets will not be able to properly complete an entire installation but will have to be replaced with another worker with different skill sets to complete what they have started. The result will be chaos.
Compulsory trade designation is the only way to ensure not only the health and safety of the workers but also the health and safety of consumers, the environment and society at large. Construction industry workers must often use complicated tools, pieces of machinery, electrical equipment and high-pressure systems. The knowledge to properly and safely use and apply these sophisticated systems is something which has been gained through years and years of experience by the stakeholders in the construction industry, that is, the trained individuals working in their respective construction trades. Training is something they have been doing for years and it should not be transferred to agencies which will focus on general and unspecified skill sets.
Such an approach will lead to individuals with limited skill sets advertising themselves as electricians or plumbers, for example. A consumer who hires such a worker would unknowingly assume that such individuals are fully competent in all aspects of that trade and may risk the occurrence of property damage or serious injury to the worker or the consumer's family members. We in the province cannot afford to take such risks.
Apart from such risks, Bill 55 also risks destabilizing the construction industry as we know it. The construction industry in Ontario has evolved around the concept of the various construction trades. Contractors bid for work based on specific trades, not skill sets. Similarly, collective bargaining in construction is based on trades and not skill sets. Bill 55 proposes a radical departure from the trade model, which will have a destabilizing effect that is not in the best interests of builders, contractors, construction workers or the consumer.
Employee-employer relationship: Another aspect of Bill 55 which deserves comment is the fact that it proposes changes to the traditional employment relationship that has always existed between the apprentice and the employer. Bill 55 proposes to introduce a sponsor to the relationship. As such, there will be no employer-employee relationship, with the result that the provisions of the Industrial Standards Act may no longer apply. This act protects the basic work standards such as minimum wage and conditions of work. As such, apprentices may find themselves working for wages which are much lower than they have always received, or even no wages at all.
Not only is this extremely unfair for apprentices, it will undoubtedly discourage some individuals from pursuing a rewarding career in the construction industry. Further, it is suspected that one of the reasons for removing the traditional employer-employee relationship from the apprenticeship system is to open the apprenticeship system up to workfare recipients. The potential risks of forcing individuals to enter construction industry apprenticeship programs against their wishes should be apparent to all of us. The risks regarding health and safety issues alone should be obvious. Construction industry apprentices should be welcomed into a trade based on industry needs and the apprentice's own desire and drive to become a fully trained tradesperson.
Apprenticeship ratios and wage rates: Another important aspect of the apprenticeship system which Bill 55 does not address is the issue of apprenticeship ratios or, in other words, the ratio of apprentice to journeyperson.
In the province of Ontario, we have all become familiar with the problems that arise when classrooms are overcrowded with too many students, there being a high pupil-to-teacher ratio. The same problem arises in the construction industry: apprenticeship programs where oftentimes apprentices are trained to use highly sophisticated and potentially dangerous pieces of equipment. Ratios are clearly an issue of quality of training.
As such, there must be some minimum standard in the legislation to provide for an absolute ceiling on what apprentice-to-journeyperson ratios can exist for specified trades. Otherwise, the system risks allowing too many apprentices being assigned to a journeyperson, with a resulting decrease in the quality of the training.
The wage issue was touched on earlier; it is also very important. A guaranteed good wage rate formula and the prospect of a licence at the end of the apprenticeship are all strong incentives for our young people to enter into a rewarding career in the construction industry.
In conclusion, the International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades, along with other construction industry stakeholders, truly understands the construction industry and how best to train apprentices. It is something we have been doing successfully for many, many years. In fact, the Premier's Council report of the late 1980s noted that Ontario's construction industry was a world leader in maintaining a highly skilled and mobile workforce that was able to keep pace with the demands of our economy. Premier Harris has on many occasions talked about the trained workforce in Ontario, which is second to none in the world.
When the Premier stated that he wanted to reform the apprenticeship system in Ontario, he quite properly asked the construction industry stakeholders, such as ourselves, for input. As this matter is very important to all of us, industry stakeholders spent a considerable amount of time, effort and expense to put forward our comments and concerns.
It is disheartening, to say the least, that this government has for the most part disregarded our comments and concerns, as evidenced by Bill 55. Many of the concerns which have been raised today regarding Bill 55 are concerns which are shared by the vast majority of industry stakeholders who have been involved since day one in apprenticeship training. We once again respectfully ask this government to listen to our concerns and to amend Bill 55 to reflect our concerns in order to keep Ontario's construction industry strong, healthy and able to meet the demands of the next millennium.
Mr Caplan: Thank you very much, Mr Elliott, for your presentation. One of the really quirky things about Bill 55 is the stated intention to allow part-time, contract and self-employed people to be apprentices. Could you explain to me, because you're very knowledgeable, how a self-employed person would become an apprentice?
Another question I have is, you talked a bit about consultation. We've heard the government members say there was a lot of consultation that went on, but it seems from your comments that you're saying, "We presented in good faith comments, suggestions, possible changes." You haven't opposed reform but the government just didn't listen. Did I get the gist of your comments?
Mr Elliott: Basically. The PAC that I sat on and all the PACs across the province were consulted. I believe the chairs and co-chairs of the PACs went to the consultations that the government held. As a matter of fact, I believe John was sitting in on those consultations and he may be able to give you a little more insight into what types of things were discussed and what the outcome seems to have been.
Mr John Maceroni: Many consultations that I attended with the Ministry of Education and Training bureaucrats -- they seemed to have had their own agenda when we attended these meetings -- talk about, for example, skill sets. They wouldn't elaborate on other parts of the bill itself or the apprenticeship reform. As I said before, at a lot of the consultation that I attended, position papers were presented by different trades. We have copies of the position papers. No one has been listening to what we've presented in the position papers.
Mr Maceroni: Like I said, I think they had their own agenda to begin with. That's my firm belief. When we would go to these meetings we would ask certain questions. "No, this is where we're leading to. Not this way; that way." We had to listen to them. Many times a lot of the participants would just pick up and walk out of the consultation because they weren't listening.
Mr Lessard: This government likes to talk a lot about consultation, but yesterday we heard from Wayne Samuelson, the president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, that even though the government talks about consultation, the leaked document that has been referred to is reflected almost completely in Bill 55. So whatever input they were getting the government completely ignored when they put Bill 55 together. We're hopeful that through this committee process the government will listen to what it is that you have to say.
You made quite a number of comments with respect to the effect that this is going to have on wages, and I agree. I think this is going to drive wages down. But I want to ask the parliamentary assistant a question because we've heard this on a couple of occasions now, and that is the impact on the employer-employee relationship.
We know that the wage ratios are going to be eliminated through Bill 55 and some people are concerned that might drive wages down to minimum wage under the Employment Standards Act. But what you've indicated in your brief is that maybe those protections that are even in the Employment Standards Act won't be there because it doesn't seem as though this is an employee-employer relationship covered by that act. I'd like to know from the parliamentary assistant whether those protections in the Employment Standards Act such as minimum wage rates, holiday pay, vacation pay and things like that are going to cover apprentices under Bill 55.
Mr Smith: If you give me a moment, I will provide you with that section. As you can appreciate, that's my understanding. Those questions have been raised by government caucus members as well. My understanding is, yes, the coverage is there, but we'll provide specific clarification to you.
The Chair: Ms Pupatello, actually Mr Lessard has the floor and your caucus has had its opportunity. I will give you one question after caucuses have completed their cycle. The government caucus is next.
Mr Gilchrist: Good morning, Kevin. Thank you for your presentation, John. Good to see you again. One of the things that we're wrestling with here -- and I appreciate that the way that bills are processed and come into force is certainly in many ways bizarre and Byzantine. We just heard Mr Lessard create a perception in this room that somehow there's a problem because something isn't in the act. It also is not in the act that they are exempt.
There are goals stated in the preamble. For the purposes of this discussion at least, let's operate on the assumption that the regulations that come forward will reflect the goals and the ambitions that I hope we share to increase the access for apprentices across the province. Would you not agree with me that it would be awfully presumptuous for the government to finish everything right down to the last detail, including all of the regulations, prior to hearing from people across the province? Would you not agree that this is precisely what we want to hear before we draft those final details, to know what you think is the final model?
Mr Elliott: I would like to think that, but the problem I have is that I've seen some of the legislation come down from this government and it appears that, even on the rare occasion when there is consultation, nothing that is said to this government makes it to that legislation.
Mr Gilchrist: Kevin, I can tell you that, in the bills that I've sat on over the last three years, invariably there are amendments. I would say there has been an average of over a hundred amendments to any significant bill. I remember the Tenant Protection Act. Literally half of the amendments that were made afterwards were ones proposed by tenants or tenant groups and half were made by landlords. I accept that you and I are never going to get everything we want in any piece of legislation, and I include those of us in the caucus. All of us will have suggestions that don't make it into the final copy. But as a basic principle, should we not be listening to you before we draft those final details?
Mr Gilchrist: I'm quite sympathetic to the idea, and we'll certainly be making representations when we get back to Toronto based on the specific things we hear. If there's a way that we can come up with some kind of coincidental timing to allow people that final review, you can take it as a given that we're going to make those representations. But in the meantime, if you've got specific ways to address the concerns within the framework of the bill via the regulations -- for example, a regulation may very well say you can't become a plumber until you meet all the skill sets -- please take the opportunity to --
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Gilchrist. Ms Pupatello had one quick question to the parliamentary assistant. Then I'll ask the parliamentary assistant to reply to Mr Lessard's question at the same time.
Mrs Pupatello: In discovering what's going to be covered in terms of employment standards, because the bill also allows, for example, the use of workfare recipients to be part of the program, could you in your answer determine whether all types of individuals, co-op students in high school, workfare recipients etc are going to be subject to the same?
Mr Smith: Certainly. In response to Mr Lessard's question, actually the protections that he's looking for will be captured under the Occupational Health and Safety Act as well as the Employment Standards Act. They're still covered under the definition of employee there. It includes, as well, should that employee of record be a sponsor, that those protections are covered under those two pieces of legislation. Maybe for clarification purposes you can revisit your question so I understand exactly what you're asking.
Mrs Pupatello: Yes. To the parliamentary assistant: Because you've changed the name from employer to sponsor in the bill, it's giving me shades of the workfare bill. When you changed the name, it seemed just a mundane, small item, yet its implication in terms of what subject those are to other legislation in Ontario I've got some concerns here. When I thought of why you would have changed the name from employer to sponsor, it occurred to me that then allows groups like a municipality or those 50 that are going to be designated as delivery agents for social services to have the opportunity to put these individuals, regardless of background, into this kind of program because you don't need the supervisory. You've eliminated that; you've changed that significantly via this bill. I'm really concerned that the answer to Lessard's question is that it's going to allow municipalities to be the sponsors in any --
Mr Smith: The motivation for changing the word from employer to sponsor -- and I wish I'd had the opportunity to further question Mr Elliott about this because the issue was raised yesterday in Toronto. Currently we have about 4,000 apprentices who are under contract with local apprenticeship committees, which are employers of record, not actual employers. The changing of the definition was designed to recognize a practice that's very common in the construction sector as well and, for that matter, to broaden opportunities, for example, for women's groups, native organizations, those organizations that we're involved with at the federal government level for training purposes, so that they would fall under that umbrella as well and broaden training opportunities for people in the province.
That was the motivation. I would certainly, Mr Elliott, like to follow up with you in the next couple of days to get more clarification on your opinion with respect to sponsors so that I fully understand that the motive that was intended in this bill is being articulated.
Mr Gary Parent: Thank you very much. I'm Gary Parent, president of the Windsor and District Labour Council. To my left is Bert Desjardins, executive board member of the Windsor and District Labour Council.
I'd like to first of all say to Mr Carroll, welcome to our community. The last time I appeared before a committee you welcomed me so I think it's only appropriate that I welcome you to Windsor. Also, Mr Gilchrist, the last time you and I met was debating bad policies coming out of your government. Things haven't changed. We're still here today.
I'd also like to say to the government members: Please, please, Mr Charette has served enough penance that he should go straight to heaven. Surely, on behalf of your government, appoint him to a job because he is doing such a good job at every hearing touting your line. He deserves some form of reward. It's unbelievable. Tell him from now on when he gets faxes from the ministry of trade or ministry of training that he take the top off saying that it comes from his office because it is very visible when you look at his papers that were before him.
I'd like to start my presentation. The Windsor and District Labour Council represents over 42,000 members and their families in Windsor and Essex county. All the affiliated members are made up of public sector workers, industrial workers, food processing workers, building trades workers, service sector workers, hospital workers, fish workers, both boat and plant workers from the fish workers, transit workers, teachers, education workers -- we still have them in the province of Ontario -- as well as casino workers and, more importantly for this discussion, apprentices.
We would first like to thank the opposition parties that are here for the continued pressure they put on your government so that these hearings are taking place, as limited as they are, four days in four cities, but we remain hopeful that not only will we get an opportunity to present our views but we will actually be heard. I say that with some scepticism because, as the speaker before me indicated, it seems to us that a lot of the discussion that happens at these hearings falls on deaf ears, and I hope that this committee really and truly takes to heart what is being said before it.
I want you to look in the audience behind me and I want you to look at the young people, particularly you government members, because they are the ones whose futures this bill, in our opinion, is destroying. I would ask, look at their faces, look at what they see before them as destroying their opportunities in the province of Ontario, and I would hope that you would listen to what's being said before you. To date that has not happened with Bill 55. There had been no previous discussions, particularly with us in the labour movement.
The apprenticeship system provides future skills for industry and the economy and supports the province to better compete in the global economy by ensuring that there is an adequate supply of skilled workers available. Government reports continue to identify shortages for a long list of skills that are needed in the trades and technical occupations and, we would like to point out here in Windsor, in the tool and die trades as well.
The current legislation before us today has been drafted by the government to increase the number of apprentices in Ontario and, in their words, provide additional opportunities for youth, but it is our view that you don't get good quality apprentices by reducing the quality of their training. You don't expand opportunities for young apprentices by reducing their wages and by taking the "skill" out of skilled trades.
Bill 55 proposes to completely deregulate the apprenticeship system in Ontario, which means all of the regulatory provisions of the old act are removed which included ratios, wage rates, entry levels and duration of the contract. This new bill is designed to shift the focus from apprenticeship as an employment relationship to apprenticeship as an education and training relationship.
The government may say they are proposing these changes in the name of flexibility -- Jeez, I think I heard that from Mr Charette this morning -- for industry and removing barriers for young people, but we say it is more about driving down wages and lowering standards, which is shameful on this government.
We agree there have to be more opportunities for our youth, but what we want is better opportunities, like what is happening within the CAW in General Motors and Chrysler. At GM they have a two-to-one ratio, which means for every two apprentices coming from the existing workforce, one can come from the outside. At Chrysler here in Windsor, they launched a pilot co-op apprenticeship program with St Clair College. The program provides 25 students with a chance to not only learn at school but also learn from journeypersons, skilled trades personnel who will show them how to safely and efficiently operate equipment and machinery, which is absolutely opposite to what is being proposed in this legislation.
Bill 55 removes all references to the ratio of journeypersons to apprentices, which will dilute the quality of the training apprentices receive, which results in lower skill levels in our workforce. Can you imagine someone doing the electrical work in your own home who has not had proper skills training on electrical? My God, it's shameful that this government would entertain such a thing. This is what we see in Bill 55. It leaves our province with a semi-qualified workforce working on our homes and public buildings. At a time when I hear continually out of this government that we have to be globally competitive, with a semi-skilled workforce, I say that is the wrong direction.
The elimination of wage requirements, along with the downloading of the costs of training to individuals, will act as a deterrent to potential new apprentices contemplating entering the trades. I heard Mr Smith this morning indicate that that's not part of the intent of Bill 55, if I heard him correctly. But again, you're asking us to trust you and, as has been laid out here before, there's not much trust we have left, I daresay and I'm sad to say, with this government today.
Imposing tuition will have a negative impact on the entire system as we have to remember that there are in some trades workers where the average age is 26, who are not kids living at home but are people with mortgages to pay and families to support.
Leaving it up to individual employers to establish standards -- my God, it's like putting the fox in charge of the hen coop -- will lead, in our opinion, to chaos in the workplace and in the marketplace and will erode national standards.
Bill 55 also eliminates the requirement of two-year minimum contracts that can easily lead to a situation where apprentices will be pushed through the system too quickly. The crux of a successful apprenticeship training program is not just one set of skills, but a complete education in all aspects of a trade. The effect of this bill will be a flooded market of low-skilled workers with limited long-term prospects.
We have to ask, why wasn't labour consulted in the drafting of this legislation? You heard the building trades this morning allude to why were they not consulted. Why did they not listen to the recommendations of previous joint discussion papers of all sectors when putting this piece of legislation forward?
The government's reforms in Bill 55 are their attempt to respond to what we all perceive as a crisis in youth unemployment. We see that here in our community as well as other communities. We remember the Common Sense Revolution, the promise of 725,000 jobs, how much of a failure that has been, especially for young people. I want to ask you whether Bill 55, in your opinion, really addresses the issue of youth unemployment and whether the deregulation of the labour market is going to create more jobs for skilled tradespeople and encourage young people to become apprentices.
Mr Parent: Obviously, we say no. We look at this piece of legislation as another attempt by this government to force a race to the bottom on the economic scale. I say again, look at the people behind me and the young people who are here today. Most of them probably are apprentices in the current apprenticeship program because of the good wages that are part and parcel of the whole question of a journeyperson once they graduate. But to get there, they also have to be paid a decent wage.
What this bill does is strip away that right for them to maintain a decent standard of living even if they're living with their parents or, more importantly, if they're trying to raise a family. This does not do that. It does not give the youth, in our opinion, a warm, fuzzy feeling of wanting to get into a trade apprenticeship, knowing that it's so diluted, and the other things, the wages and everything else that's around it. It just does not make it more attractive for them. In fact, it probably will turn them away from trying to be a part of the trade apprenticeship.
Mr Smith: I just want to say at the outset, thank you for your presentation, and to indicate to you, as I've done to the previous speakers, that in fact nowhere in this bill is there any provision for the introduction of tuition fees. I want to make that very clear.
Mr Smith: Yes, the issue of tuition fees is there, but the minister has been very clear that until there is a labour mobility agreement established with the federal Liberal government, no tuition fees will be considered or introduced.
Mr Parent: But you're still not saying that there will be none. You're saying that you want to have an agreement first before you'll entertain even looking at whether there will be or not. That disturbs me and doesn't leave me with a warm, fuzzy feeling; I'm sorry.
Mr Smith: I'm sorry that you're disturbed by that. I appreciate your perspective, but I want to make it very clear. I believe, if I'm not misrepresenting you, you suggested tuition fees were contained in this bill, and they are not. That's the point I wish to make.
As I go over a lot of material -- and I'm not asking you this to be provocative but just to get your feedback -- my recollection is that some seven years ago the tool and die maker industry committee recommended that wage rates be removed from regulation, and in fact that was done, and my understanding is that wages have increased for tool and die makers. So as I hear the criticisms that are being presented about the removal of wages, my understanding is that the tool and die industry itself has experienced some success with the removal of that from regulation. Am I incorrect in my understanding of that?
Mr Parent: I can only tell you the experience that we have here in Windsor. I hear from employers all the time the whole question, quite honestly, of the Big Three, if I can use that terminology, stealing their workers after they put them through an apprenticeship program. I guess the main reason for that is more money. I don't think what you're outlining has really been the example here in Windsor.
Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): Gary, in your involvement with the CAW, has any other jurisdiction in Canada moved in this direction, other than perhaps Alberta? What is happening in other parts of the country in this whole area?
Mr Parent: I haven't actually heard of any other jurisdiction, and I don't even know if Alberta is included; I really don't. But I do know that this is totally a wrong direction, for any government to take away a piece of legislation that affords the young people of any province an opportunity to better themselves and that builds a skilled workforce for a province.
This province has been historically known as the industrial heartland of this country, and of the world, really, as far as I'm concerned. This piece of legislation, in one swipe, will wipe that competitive notion right out of the whole question of us being on the cutting edge of advancement, particularly in new technology. For the life of me, I do not understand this government, which prides itself in saying they want to be on the cutting edge of new technology and that global competitiveness is something they strive for, at the same time taking the skilled workforce in Ontario and eliminating the skills that go into the skilled workforce. I just do not understand this government for doing this.
Mr Duncan: You referenced the race to the bottom. In light of the other legislative initiatives you've spoken about, do see this as another step in the direction towards right-to-work in Ontario? What does that mean for these young people in the audience who have come to accept that this province has, up until the last three or four years, had fairly good labour standards?
We look in Windsor, and if it were not for the Big Three, if it were not for the contracts in the building trades that provided security and good-paying jobs for the families and the workers in this community, we would not be striving as well as we are today. It's only good standards of contract negotiation that allows it. It's good apprenticeship programs; it's good contracting as far as getting wages up to the level that they are in this community. That's what drives this economy. It's not low wages that drive an economy. You can have all the people in this province working at $10 an hour and you're not going to have the type of economy that's built on good wages being that driving force.
Mr Lee Myers: First of all, I'm Lee Myers. I'm not only representing Build-A-Mold Ltd but I'm also representing the provincial advisory committee in the CTMA, which is the Canadian Tooling Manufacturers' Association.
Mr Kurt Moser: My name is Kurt Moser. I'm semi-retired. I'm a toolmaker by trade, or a mouldmaker. I'm a past chair of the provincial curriculum committee for the precision machining trades. I retired from the college system four years ago and have been active in the mould industry since then.
Mr Myers: I'm not going to try to follow my good friend Gary Parent with some of the verbiage he used because Gary's pretty well informed on what's taking place within the city limits. I'm going to speak from the heart rather than anything else and not refer to the bill too much, because quite frankly I don't care too much for the bill. I'm going to speak on behalf of the young people we represent, and I say "we" because people like myself and Kurt and other people in the community have really taken an interest in the young people and make sure they have had appropriate training available to them.
If you look at the PAC and if you go back through the OTAB structure and all the various structures we've come through, we've stumbled, we've got up, we've walked, we've stumbled again, we've got up and we've tried to make some good of what has taken place. The end result was that we really didn't get a fair shake at what was happening for the young people that we try to represent.
When we look at watering down the education levels, I have a difficult time. On Sunday evening of this week Kurt and I had the pleasure of walking through Build-A-Mold Ltd and seeing technology at its truest and its finest. I recommend to anybody who is sitting on this panel that if you ever have the chance to walk through and see what technology is all about, then you should automatically go to Build-A-Mold and see what it is.
I don't know how you would ever expect to have a young person come through any kind of education program at all and not have the wisdom and the knowledge to walk into that plant and stand there and profess that at the end of four years, or whatever the case may be, there would be a tradesperson evolve from that young person going through. It would be totally impossible. If you look at grade 12, it is a very minimal level. When you look at the technology that's there -- I've seen things where I looked at Kurt and said I would totally disbelieve it if someone had told me what I'd see. The processes that are being used today, the means and methods that are being used today, you must have a vast knowledge about what's going on.
If you look at what has taken place in the industry over the years, we've realized a good income in the metal trades. We've realized a decent wage and that was because a lot of people went to the plate and said: "We need it. We expect it. We demand it." We did that because of the position in the city, especially the Windsor area and the surrounding territory. The mould industry is centred in the city of Windsor, in this area. If the technology were to be moved out of this city, it's fair to say this city would collapse in manufacturing in a lot of ways.
For anybody who has taken an interest to look at what Windsor has to offer young people -- I don't like to use the community college too much, because I have never been a staunch advocate of the community colleges. Kurt well knows we've got a lot of differences of opinion. I'm always on the fact that you need to train people on the floor; you need to train them properly. I'm probably from the old school, where you went into the shop, you went to night school, you took your lumps, you worked for peanuts and you worked your way up. Fortunately, today our young people don't have to do that. We have a good income system set up; we have a good backup system set up. What bothers me more than anything is that we're about to destroy it. Shame on us.
Mr Moser: As an educator in the college system at the time, I was part of the team that wrote the standards for the three precision metal trades: tool and dye, mould-making and general machinist. It was something we were all proud of, and for the first time in this province it was clearly spelled out what a toolmaker would have to know and what kind of education he would have to go through. I'm very sad to see that it now all seems to be thrown to the wind. The province has paid thousands of dollars to have that material established. I might add, I've had calls from peers or counterparts in the US who were absolutely astounded that Ontario had this kind of material. I'm very sad to see it go. We must maintain some standards or criteria by which we can measure the success and the performance of these people.
I'd like to express a feeling that's particular in the mould industry about Bill 55. The feeling is that if you download the cost of apprenticeship, you should also download the authority to govern it to some vehicle or some agency like the PAC or heads of apprentice training, whoever it may be, to ensure that there's a continuum of the standards that we have come to accept. I can foresee horrific proliferation where people can strictly job-specifically train a skilled tradesperson and say, "I can do it in 40 weeks, when it takes someone else quite a bit longer." The agreed-to standard at the present time was 8,000 hours for a skilled tradesperson. I would like to see that some of that is preserved. I can't possibly see that you can waive the academic entry level from even grade 10, or go down further. When I go through the shop -- I went through Build-A-Mold Sunday night -- I can't understand how a person with less than grade 12 could possibly get into that particular skill.
The industry feels that at the present time, the way Bill 55 is written, there is no framework that guarantees that the voice of industry will be heard. The specific request of the mould-making industry is that they would like to have some framework by which the voice of industry will be heard and that it gets heard where it counts. Thank you.
Mr Smith: I'll lead off, Mr Chair. I want to come back to this issue of the grade 10, because admittedly you have experience from your own observations that the individuals apprenticed today have a greater educational level than grade 10. You suggest that in your presentation.
When the ministry undertook its review or survey of apprentices, we found that only about 6% of apprentices today had less than a grade 12 education. That begs the question -- and I realize the position you've advanced; it's consistent with others on this issue. Is it truly relevant, the grade 10, when we already know that the educational levels our apprentices are attaining far exceed that; their skill levels are far in excess of what we might expect at a grade 10 level?
In that context, do you not think it's appropriate to recognize what is current today, allow that to happen through the provincial advisory committee process? If there's variation to that, let that committee make that determination, but let's recognize that we have here one of the highest-skilled trade forces in this country, and in fact a lot of them do have a grade 12 education.
Mr Moser: Coming from the college background -- I've taught college and I've been an administrator -- I know what comes in the door isn't what it's supposed to be in the first place, or at least it hasn't been. If we lower the educational requirements even more, I'm afraid. From what I see happening in industry --
Mr Froese: Thank you for your presentation. I really appreciate the spirit in which you made the presentation. We have the same concerns that you do on the standards, on the skills required for each trade, so we're talking the same language on what our concerns are. None of that is being changed.
Under the PACs, as you well know better than I because you've been involved in it, those standards and those skills have been set already and they have been advised to the Minister of Education and Training under former governments. That will continue to be. I'm a little puzzled why we're hearing that -- we've said continuously on this bill that those things aren't being changed. It's the industry that should determine, not government, and they should make recommendations to the minister and, as in the past, the minister certifies the programs. That will still stay there. We've always said it, the minister has said it: It's not government that makes those decisions; it's the industry in conjunction with the employers and employees.
The same with wages. Groups here this morning that represent their workers have done a fantastic job, and they should be proud of how they have developed wage contracts. That will continue to be there. I'm a little puzzled why the workplace, the negotiation on all of these issues -- why there is concern when such a good job has been done already.
Mr Myers: Can I respond? Just in response, in all fairness, I've sat as the chair of the PAC for the precision metal trades on and off for the last 10 or 11 years. I've met with ministers, I've met with various government groups, you name it, and I always got that old fuzzy feeling that Gary was talking about when I was leaving rather than coming. At the end of the day when we went to make a presentation, you at least had some good feelings going in that you had accomplished something. Well, I'll tell you what I accomplished in the years that I've sat there. You can stick it in that glass: absolutely nothing. That's what I came away with, and that's what bothers me today. When I came and was asked to make this presentation on behalf of the tool manufacturers, somewhere down the line when you make a presentation to a minister, you're supposed to be the minister's voice and concern; you're supposed to be adviser to the minister from a PAC. The unfortunate part of it is that we keep advising and no one listens and we keep stumbling along the same avenue day after day. Somewhere, someone has to stop and say: "Wait a minute. This is really what we need to look at here."
Mr Caplan: The government member tried to assure you that certain things would happen. I would say to everybody here, but particularly to the government members: If that is true, why is it not in this bill? Why is it left to, "Trust us, we will make it OK"?
We will be proposing an amendment to this piece of legislation which will give industry-labour committees the ability to enforce standards that are appropriate to their particular industry, be it construction, service, industrial or motor; it doesn't matter. I take it that you would be supportive and would urge all members of this committee to support that kind of amendment. Yes?
Mrs Pupatello: Thank you very much for coming today. I think there might have been some idea that because the name on the slot here is Build-A-Mold Ltd, as a company in business, the government has done this for you. They've brought in Bill 55; they're doing it all for you. I'm pleased to see that you're one of the first representatives of a company that is speaking out. The government to date has said that they have done this for the industry, and you are the industry saying that this is not what the industry requires.
Mr Myers: In all fairness, Sandra, you can't look at the industry today and see the technology that's on the floor. When you look at spending $1 million for a piece of equipment, you have to have somebody who's trained to handle $1 million worth of equipment. You can't go back to where we used to be 30 years ago when you would take an individual off the street, put him on a job and give him a little bit of instruction and training and he could do the job. That doesn't happen today. It takes years; we say four years, 8,000 hours. I've been a tradesman all my life. I'm still learning today what the job is about.
Mrs Pupatello: All of the provinces have come to an agreement that they have a set standard and all the apprenticeship programs in each province will meet that standard and then be part of the national red seal program. For example, you know that if you're trained in BC or Halifax, you come here and you've got the appropriate standard to work in the industry here. There is a concern -- I don't know if you've heard of it but maybe I can ask you -- that if this bill passes as it is, will it qualify Ontario to still be part of the national red seal program?
Mrs Pupatello: For an industry that is looking for employees, when they go searching, in effect, we are now allowing Ontario and its citizens, who are being trained under Bill 55 with this in place, not to be part of or have access to saying: "I'm part of the national red seal program. I have that national standard of training."
I would have thought that this bill should have been vetted, if you will, by some national standards board that says that if you implement this, you're going to meet all the qualifications that every other province is meeting. It's frightening to think that we're prepared to pass a bill with regulations and they haven't told us what they are, they haven't tabled them, and there are no suggested amendments at this point by the government, and we well may not qualify for this national red seal program.
Mr Myers: Can I just throw something in for information? When the red seal program was available, when we were working on the red seal program, there was a lot of controversy over why we needed a red seal program in the tooling industry. Luckily, I was there to express the position of the tooling industry and why we needed it. When I first got involved we looked at the community colleges, and I asked the community colleges at the time, "If you have a program that's available to train young people in a specific trade, where would that trade fit in a different city or a different location, should someone move or go somewhere else?" They told me, "No problem, Lee, you can move; you can do whatever you want." That was a farce, because you could never move from Windsor to any other city or province and get into an existing program. There was no coordination. We thought at the time that the red seal program would do something to coordinate some of those interests. It did to a little bit of an edge, but it stopped short of where we thought it should go.
I'm still saying today, "Where are we going to get a standard for the industry?" I'm selfish in talking for the metal trades; that's why I'm here representing the metal trades. I think we have to say as adults, as a government and as a body to young people out there, "We not only owe you, we owe us, because if we lose the research and development, we're gone." That's where it comes from: from the training, from the red seal programs, from all the criteria that are there prior to. That's what we need to enforce.
Mr Lessard: I take it from what you're suggesting that there needs to be more standardization of training opportunities and that Bill 55 really fragments those skill levels so that somebody wouldn't be able to go from one jurisdiction to another. As Gary Parent said, "This is really an attempt to flood the marketplace with a whole bunch of half-trained, semi-skilled sorts of people."
I've had an opportunity to go through Build-A-Mold, and what they do there is impressive. It's indicative of what a lot of moulding shops and tool and die shops do in the city of Windsor. I think that's the economic future of our community: ensuring that we have skilled people who are able to go into those types of businesses. I would like to ask you whether you think that Bill 55 is going to address that skills shortage so that we have those people to move into those jobs in the future, because that's what the government is saying. They're saying specifically, "There are shortages in the tool and die and mould-making businesses and Bill 55 is the mechanism that is going to address those shortages by providing more flexibility." That's how they're selling this bill.
Mr Myers: I don't want to keep talking, Wayne, but you know that if I had 1,000 opportunities for young people to get jobs, I'd have 5,000 people lined up for them. If I had 10 people looking for a job, I'd have 100 people lined up. What we have to do is make available jobs for the young people we have out there. We've got young people coming out of school and I've had an opportunity to address them. You've never talked to so many young people who are so down on what's happening around them in their lives that they have nowhere to go when they graduate from high school.
There's a misconception of what's going to happen to them and where they're going to go. Are they going to be on welfare? Are they going to end up being in a job? The problem is that they don't even understand what a skilled trades program is until you go in and explain it to them. We're going to need to explain a lot of things to our young people. But better than that, we need to explain a lot of things to our adults in this community. They need to understand what it's all about. As I said a minute ago, if we lose the research and development, we're in trouble.
Mr Moser: The Windsor Star, Wayne, carries every Saturday, I'm sure you're aware, two pages of job ads for the mould or tool industry, but you're not going to fill those jobs with semi-skilled people. Those are high-tech jobs. Those are the jobs that keep this economy going. There are some 200 shops in the greater Windsor area doing anywhere from $10 million to $150 million worth of business every year. That's not peanuts.
Mr Lyle Browning: It's a pleasure for me to be here this morning, although I'm not the person who was originally scheduled to represent WESTAC. I'll start by saying that I'm a life member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and a member of the Canadian Tooling Manufacturers' Association.
I started with a company in Windsor in 1943, the SKD Tool Co, which later located in Amherstburg. I have for the past 55 years been employed by or the owner of an industry related to the tool and die and precision machining industry. Throughout those years, and even today, I have been very interested in apprenticeship training. With our small industry today, we are still employing two or three students in the co-operative student training programs. I perhaps represent the large number of employers employing less than 25 persons.
I should first like to give my personal observations, which may be a minority opinion, but I'm kind of familiar with being in a minority position, so I don't think that's going to bother me. I asked Gary Parent to leave some of his supporters here to cheer me on but I don't know whether he did. I might say, with due respect, I have worked with the two previous speakers over the years and know them very well. Some of my opinions are perhaps a little bit diverse from theirs.
I certainly wish there were a situation available where one size would fit all. I feel that in relationship to apprenticeship training in the tool and die industry, it's far removed from what might be the situation in the construction or other trades industries, so I'm only going to speak to the industry as I know it and have been involved in it.
I would like to, since I represent WESTAC, give you a brief background of WESTAC. Although some of my remarks pertaining to it may be marginal in this regard, I think they are pertinent to the group who have assembled here this morning.
WESTAC was organized to represent the local concerns of industry, business and labour for skilled training in all areas. This not only included tool and die but took in the requirements for the restaurant industry or the pipefitting industry or what have you. As a group of volunteers, we organized to set up a method by which we could improve the situation with regard to training practices in our local area. We were funded by the province and the federal government. The province's share covered the administration and office personnel and the federal unemployment insurance fund supported direct purchases of training programs.
Prior to the WESTAC organization, the situation was this in some of the training sections which were government-funded. They started out with a class for 25 people. By the time that class finished after 50 weeks, they were down to nine persons. Of those nine persons in our industry, perhaps four were employed by the industry. This certainly was not a situation that industry could accept. Under WESTAC, and I happened to head the division concerned with precision machining, we tried to reverse that situation and we did. We set out criteria to do this.
First of all, we selected members of the small tool manufacturing industry to sit as a committee. We developed a program that said, "We have 25 seats available in a class for training." We were prepared to interview the people who would be entering those classes. We advertised. We received we'll say 100 applications to be part of that 25. Out of those 100 people we selected 25, using as a minimum standard requirement at least a good grade 12 education, and I say that with tongue in cheek because I really don't know what a grade 12 education is, frankly. But we stressed the emphasis on mathematics and English. We would not accept anybody with less than those qualifications.
With that sort of sorting, we went back to St Clair College and the division they had available for accepting this type of program -- is it IRC out here? -- and confronted them with what we thought were the problems. Some of the criticisms have been that they were not staffed with teachers who were qualified to teach the subjects that we required. We investigated that. We had quite a problem with St Clair in that regard, but finally they decided to come through or they wouldn't have received funding for training. We received those proposals from the individual trainers and we found that they were adequate in every way, and we were able to say to the students then who were coming aboard, "This is the background of the teachers you are going to have," which they were satisfied with.
The result was that we ran, in the last four years of our existence, four sets of classes of 25 people. Of those 100 people who started with the class, 90% finished. Of the 90% who finished, 100% of them went into industry. This was at a time when industry was in recession in this area, but the quality of those students was such that not one company they trained with or went to for training was able to say, "We don't have a job available for them." We had even companies like General Motors, who had heard of the success of our program, contacting WESTAC and saying, "We want some of those students," and had to tell General Motors, "We're sorry, we can't accommodate you."
For some reason or other, the government decided to dismiss local training boards and we went out of business. We went out of business as an institution, but there are still a number of us who are involved monthly to discuss the situation. We look forward to some government recognizing this fact and trying to find a solution that doesn't say that all the brains are going to be handed down from Toronto, that locally we can handle situations, knowing the local needs of industry and business; that if it's turned over the local industries and business to develop solutions, we will find them as required.
I want to say that I support the idea of wages for apprentices being left to the employers. Factory size and area locations are great factors in these determinations. As a small business employer, I know what my obligations are to the people I employ, and certainly if we want to run a successful business we try to develop these people and pay them the top wage the competition will meet. If government dictates what wage we must pay, many companies will not even be able to start up. We have found that if small businesses don't improve their wages for apprentices, and the apprentices are qualified, they're certainly grabbed up very readily by higher and larger institutions. So we have no fear about the fact that minimum wage or something of that nature is a poor place to start as far as wages are concerned.
Having said that, and being part of my own conclusions, I feel I should read the statements as prepared by our president, who is not with us today, so I will read this as it is. For those of you who will have printed copies, Mr Laroche has a very strong French accent and some of the words and phrases here might be even more applicable if he were reading this summary.
In these days of transmondial companies, no one can be assured of a job for life any more. The apprentice of today will have to have an attitude of constant learning, upgrading, lifelong studies, and meet not only today's standards but the ever-new concepts and changes being developed and not even invented at this time or on the market today. Now technology changes every three years, as compared to 20 or 15 years not that long ago.
If we wish to have future teachers evaluated and upgraded every five years, so should new skilled workers for the future; they cannot be certified for life. We have governments interested in collecting exam fees. No institution can keep up with the latest technology equipment. Employers need some type of standards to evaluate future and existing personnel so they can be trained and upgraded. They need some type of motivation to ensure constant upgrading for future equipment in order for entrepreneurs to keep going and factory floors working. Due to the costs associated with training and upgrading, no single employer will be able to afford to have all the new equipment at once or even in the same facility. For a new apprenticeship program to be effective, it will have to offer today's apprentice the opportunity to move from one employer to another or to tomorrow's entrepreneur.
Some type of record will have to be retained by the apprentice, with monitoring as to the validation of accomplishments to date, perhaps in the form of a booklet. Included in this booklet are provisions for original accomplishments completion, to keep records of new and future training and upgrading. A renewal system has to be instituted for renewals at periodic intervals, say three to five years. There should be no automatic renewals, and some type of upgrading should be mandatory before a new certificate is issued.
Some type of multiple discipline has to be recognized, since it is a fait accompli at present in many plants for the survival of small industries. The delegation from St Clair College will undoubtedly be discussing later these multi-skilled products in advanced manufacturing at the centre for excellence, in manufacturing, along with integrated manufacturing, to name a few. Others, for example power engineers, do not at this time fall under apprenticeship programs.
In the Ministry of Education and Training booklet entitled Better Skills, More Jobs: Ontario's Plan for Tomorrow's Job Market, if the goal is to provide 750,000 Ontarians with employment and training and not just to collect the examination fees, then we should include the interns working in hospitals. At present, their working conditions and training hours are appalling, and the pay-rate ratio is less than a first-year apprentice in the trades. If they were covered under the apprenticeship program, they would have some recourse for this problem. This would also hold true for all self-regulatory groups not covered by apprenticeship programs at present.
Mr Caplan: Mr Browning, thank you very much for your presentation. One of the questions I've had consistently about Bill 55 is that it says it's going to allow part-time, contract and self-employed people to be apprentices. Can you tell me how a self-employed person could possibly be an apprentice? Who would supervise them?
Mr Browning: As it applies in our industry, I can't think of a situation of that nature being applicable, actually. It would perhaps apply to the other trades, other types of employment, but not to training in our area.
Mr Caplan: I've asked this question to a lot of people in a lot of the different trade areas. Nobody has been able to give me an answer. Actually, no government member has been able to give me an answer either. It is really kind of weird, what's envisioned there. I'm really trying to get some handle on what that could possibly mean.
Mr Lessard: Thank you, Mr Browning, for your presentation. I guess it was a dual presentation and reflected the views of part of the industrial sector, engineering and tool and die making primarily. I'm wondering whether you have any views about whether it might be worthwhile to split this bill so it applies only to the manufacturing or industrial sector and leave the existing legislation to cover the construction industry. Do you think there's some merit to that?
Mr Browning: I implied that I don't think there's a situation here where one answer will fit all conditions. There must be some consideration given to the various applications of apprenticeship; certainly, it varies tremendously when you put it to its true applications.
Mr Browning: As an employer of industry, particularly small industry, who needs as much leeway as possible to run our business, we like to think we need government help where we need government, in situations where we are not able to help ourselves, but we want government out of our hair as much as possible to run our business. We have limited funds and so forth, and we must cut the cake to fit the party. Therefore, we want as much opportunity to use our own ingenuity and our own challenge and so forth to succeed, and the less government, the better, as far as we're concerned.
Mr Gilchrist: I appreciate your presentation. Before I get to my question, let me very briefly deal with Mr Caplan. Twice this morning he's made a somewhat facetious comment that he doesn't understand why the bill would talk about the self-employed and that he hasn't had an answer.
First, the backgrounder you received in June 1998 does talk about the fact that construction piecemeal workers are not allowed to be apprentices today. To give you another example, I come from a Canadian Tire background. I would not have been allowed to become a class A mechanic because I owned the garage. So there are two examples. Perhaps reading the briefing notes that are provided might be a good first step.
I'm intrigued. Let me ask you this wearing your tool and die hat. We've heard from a number of presenters here this morning about how many companies are desperately looking for apprentices and the number of want ads here in Windsor. I appreciate that people have different opinions on whether this bill will deliver. In the absence of this bill, we hadn't heard any other suggestions. No one was pushing us to find other solutions. What would you offer to us? If Bill 55 isn't the perfect solution, how do we accomplish the goal of increasing the number of people who go into the apprenticeship program, specifically tool and die?
Mr Browning: Again, there are conditions that must be separated in terms of what training for which purposes. In our particular industry, in the tool and die and machining industry, we need flexibility, which I think this bill perhaps is directing.
For example, in our particular business we quit trying to have apprentices who were registered under the apprenticeship act because of the situation with regard to number of apprentices to journeymen, the appropriate amount of earnings as applied to journeymen etc. All these regulations made it almost impossible for a small business to prevail. So what did we do? We just quit apprenticing people under the technology and the act of apprenticeship. We didn't go out of business; we just said we're going to run our business, and the people we're going to employ and train, someday, maybe, through a grandfather clause or something, will be able to become journeymen, but it's not going to be one of our concerns. We're going to train people for our purpose and they're not necessarily going to be registered as apprentices. They're not going to be able to go somewhere else in Canada and say, "Here's a certificate" or something of that nature.
But the fact that we did apprentice and train people testifies to the extent of the industry here in Windsor today. There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of tool and die makers and machinists out there who are expert at their craft who don't have any kind of a piece of paper saying, "I'm a journeyman."
The Acting Chair: The next presenter is Percy Rounding, president of CAW Windsor-Essex County Skilled Trades Council. Good morning, gentlemen. Welcome to our committee. Maybe we'll have each of you introduce yourselves just so we have it on the record for Hansard. You have 20 minutes. Should you allow any time for questions, they would begin with Mr Lessard. The floor is yours.
Mr Percy Rounding: Good morning. My name is Percy Rounding. I'm the president of CAW Windsor-Essex County Skilled Trades Council, which represents every CAW skilled tradesperson in the Windsor-Essex county area. We don't say "apprentices," because they are skilled trades to us.
I'd like to introduce my co-workers, cohorts. This is Randy Emerson on my left; he is an apprentice electrician at Chrysler Canada. To my right is Steve Endo; he's a co-op apprentice involved in the St Clair-Chrysler-CAW pilot project. To my far right is Len Armstrong, who is a chef de parquet in the hospitality industry at Casino Windsor.
Bill 55 will phase out regulated wage rates. We must keep in mind that the apprentices are working people who already make a significant financial contribution under the current system through reduced wages, let alone another wage reduction under the proposed changes. Then they will have to pay full tuition fees and administrative costs, plus the financial burden they're already carrying: the cost of tools, the cost of books, the cost of school supplies, travel costs and a new user fee, the apprentice registration cost. They will also have to pay the cost for testing and licensing fees when they complete their apprenticeship. All of this will act as a disincentive to new apprentices, which will result in fewer people entering the apprentice programs, more dropouts and ultimately, again, a shortage of skilled tradespeople.
Bill 55 eliminates ratios of apprentices to journeypersons when 80% to 90% of what an apprentice learns is on-the-job training by experienced journeypersons. Ratios were initially determined by industry to guarantee that the skills of the specific trade are passed on and to ensure that the apprentice would train with a number of journeypersons to learn a variety of techniques and tasks using the trade to safeguard the health and safety conditions of the employee, the employer and the customer. Getting rid of the regulated journeyperson-to-apprentice ratios and replacing them with voluntary ratios will mean more apprentices will work without proper guidance, and this tilts the balance from learning to working.
Well-rounded experience in the trades can't be achieved without time to learn from journeypersons in the workplace. Bill 55 removes apprentice standards, which are replaced by skill sets. It is imperative that the apprentice who graduates as a tradesperson fully comprehends the entire trade in order to understand the consequences of any actions that will create a reaction. We must remember that a trade is a professional career, not a clustering of skill sets, in order to blend trades, which promotes multi-skilling, or as we call it, deskilling.
The training for an electrician is profoundly different than the training for a plumber, but some training is similar, such as math, health and safety, reading and comprehension of engineering prints and the installation of pipe or conduit. If I have a skill set or a C of A, certificate of achievement, in cutting, threading and installing pipe, does this mean I become a 5% electrician or a 5% plumber or both? If I learn a different skill set or a C of P, certificate of proficiency, such as measuring and cutting of lumber, do I become a 5% carpenter? Now I learn more skill sets. What am I? Am I a jack of all trades or a plumber or an electrician or a carpenter, and who will employ me?
This is why you must keep intact the regulations that apply to any trade for which there is an apprentice training standard, not a multiple of skill sets. It is important to understand that the basic licence or C of Q, certificate of qualification, is a complete understanding of the entire specific trade.
I want to speak for a minute on the co-op apprentice program that we have in conjunction with Chrysler Canada and St Clair College. This is a pilot project. We believed that we could not advance youth in the community under our regimented structure, our collective agreement, but in order to promote youth employment, we were willing to take a chance on the youth of this community to start a pilot project in which the students are registered and indentured as industrial electrician 442A.
They also take courses. At the end of their semesters -- this is a four-year program -- they have significant time towards their apprenticeship. They will also be registered and get a diploma as an electronic technician or an electronic technologist, which gives them substantial credit towards a degree to go on to the University of Windsor, if they stay in the city, or any other university to complete this program to become electrical engineers.
In the meantime, when we negotiated this program, Chrysler did not forget about their traditional apprentices. We normally carry 18 apprentices, which was a negotiated item. Through this program, we were successful in bringing our numbers up to 54 apprentices in the system by January 2000. These trades are not all electricians; they will be indentured electricians, indentured pipefitters, indentured millwrights and indentured toolmakers.
Lastly, we request that this legislation be withdrawn and in its place established an apprentice review process, with consultation with those directly involved. Bill 55 wasn't done right the first time but can be done right the second time.
Mr Randy Emerson: I'm a third-year electrical apprentice at Chrysler. I want to talk about skill sets. I was never trained that way. To me, if you train people in skill sets, it's like piecework. You would not want your doctor trained that way and then to look at you after to see if he learned different parts of the body, and then say, "Do the whole body." You would rather have it go the way it's supposed to be: You train him as a GP and then you train him later to get into special skills.
Skilled labour is the same way. When I do a job at work, I go from start to finish. I have to know what wire to pull, what size it is, conduits, how to bend it, how to hook it up, what piece of equipment I have to do, what size disconnect I have to have. It's not all piecework. You have to know the entire job. If I'm going to know how to troubleshoot it after, I have to know the entire work, not bits and pieces of it. I have to know the way the whole system works. If I don't wire it up right or do something right, if I do piecework, I'm afraid you're going to have apprentices out there who are going to hurt somebody or themselves. That's what I think this bill will do.
Mr Steve Endo: I'm an indentured electrical apprentice. I'm currently enrolled in the Chrysler co-op CAW pilot program of industrial electrician, electronics engineering and technology. I'm not a skill set worker. I and several of my classmates already have post-secondary degrees and diplomas.
We rely on our journeymen to learn all aspects of the trade, including electronics, computers, construction and heavy industrial electrical work. We rely on them to learn all different aspects, but we also rely on our journeymen to make it home alive each and every day. Without the ratio of journeymen to apprentices, that would be difficult.
Mr Len Armstrong: I'm representing the hospitality industry. This industry will see incredible growth in Windsor, Essex county and the area in the very near future. The food and beverage alone has an estimated shortfall in the next five to six years of 3,000 people, and they remain unsure if they will be able to meet the demand of the industry, let alone reach the full potential of the area. This is an excellent sign for young people in the area, as nationwide the hospitality industry employs 45% of the employed youth workforce. The expansion in this industry is due largely to direct and spinoff activities spurred by our expanding gaming sector. Casino Windsor alone contributes to both the accommodation and the food and beverage sector through the purchase of 27,000 rooms and meals for its patrons.
Tourism and convention activity has also increased. The opening of the permanent site casino, the casino and the luxury hotels and the development of the Western Super Anchor will generate a large amount of movement within the industry. It is not unreasonable to think that some of the newer venues will entice staff from local businesses, creating promotional opportunities and job opening to backfill those positions.
There is a considerable shortage of qualified first-line, head and sous-chefs, especially red seal sous-chefs in this area. As a result, employers are advertising outside the area. The individuals applying for the jobs are not qualified. They generally are people that have worked in the establishments doing a combination of tasks but they aren't meeting the qualifications that employers are seeking. Individuals in this occupation need to possess a higher level of experience and not be a freezer-to-fryer-to-plate chef.
My concern to you is, I've had 18 years' experience in the food and beverage industry, and there are diseases out there like salmonella, botulism and trichinosis. I feed the public sector. If I don't know what I'm doing, and you're taking your family out to eat, what would you be thinking when you sit down to have a plate of food?
Mr Lessard: I want to start by asking you, Len, about your experience as a chef because, when the minister made the announcement about introducing Bill 55 he made it at a hotel in Toronto and specifically referred to the hospitality/tourism sector as one that was going to benefit from this legislation. We've seen, as you've indicated, tremendous growth in this area as a result of the casino initiative, which I'm proud we were able to bring to Windsor. I'm wondering whether you see anything in Bill 55 that is going to encourage more young people to get into the tourism and hospitality sector, as the minister is saying this is why the bill is being presented, almost to address that sector specifically.
Mr Armstrong: I don't really see that in Bill 55 because we're not going to be paying our chefs and our red seal chefs the money and the wages that they feel are fit. I've had other jobs where the company said, "When you finish this, you'll get a certificate," but it wasn't a part of the skilled trade. Once you acquired this paper, your boss looked at it and said, "Oh well, it's just a piece of paper," and paid you $7 an hour. When you go to these Jiffy Lube shops and you look in the pits and you see these guys dirty, hard work, there is no skilled trade for them. Who looks after them to say that they're going to make a decent wage to buy a house and support a family? There's no one.
When you introduce Bill 55, you're saying, "We're scratching the paperwork, we're just going to pay you a wage we feel that you're capable of having," and then that's it. I think with Bill 55 you're going to lose a lot. Safety awareness, responsibilities, accountability, controls, public health and safety, maintaining government standards, artistic values, professionalism, all that goes down the pipe. Years of experience, proper food handling and procedures, none of that is being taught.
Mr Froese: Thanks for your presentation. I'd like to talk a little bit about -- I know we have a short time -- certification and skill sets. Under the current act, on page 11, and under regulation 26, it allows for having different trades involved in an apprenticeship program. Actually, and you're probably aware of this, only 19 of the 67 trades are compulsory and 48 of them are volunteer already, and that just moves to the new act. It allows for that flexibility. It creates more opportunity for different trades to be under the apprenticeship program. Do you not feel that because that's there already -- we feel strongly as a government that the industry as employers, along with yourselves as employees, need to develop those standards and those certification criteria to present to the minister. It's there already. I've said this before, if you were listening this morning. I'm surprised that there is a concern out there. We have it already and all we're doing is allowing more flexibility for other trades to be in the apprenticeship program.
Mr Armstrong: You're correct, there is some flexibility there now. That's why I mentioned the skill sets, the new terminology by the government. Skill sets are similar between trades, the basic part. The problem is that if this bill is enacted, the regulations will be all rewritten. The regulations will not stay intact as they are. This comes from the office of the ministry, from Kathryn McKenzie, whom we met with. She told us to trust her on the regulations that would be rewritten after the act. We asked for copies of the revised regulations and basically she said to us to trust her. She seemed a very intelligent lady who understood the program, but we as the union or, more importantly, as skilled trades cannot trust anybody to rewrite the regulations without our input.
We talked earlier today -- I think Gary raised the question of our global competitiveness and our competitiveness, say, within the auto industry. I know your plants compete with other plants in the United States. When I was a young fellow working in the Ford Motor Co in plant 2, as I recollect, you could tell the difference between an engine that was made here in Ontario and an engine that was made in the United States, and a lot of that had to do with the skill sets and the training particularly that our skilled tradespeople have. I wonder, Randy, if you could tell me, as an apprentice trainee -- you started to talk about knowing every aspect of your job. In a plant like yours, I would imagine we would be more protected there than we would be in some other unorganized shops. Can you tell me what this will mean in terms of our competitiveness with, say, St Louis, with other plants that our plants compete with? Given the fact that most studies indicate that we have a real competitive advantage in terms of the quality and training of our workforce, can you tell me what this will mean in your plant?
Mr Rounding: J.D. Power reports that our vehicle is superior in quality to our sister plant's in St Louis. But there isn't a lot of difference, because St Louis's assembly has spent a lot of money bringing up, per se, skill sets in the skilled trades.
The Chair: At this point we call the delegation from the Elgin, Middlesex, Oxford Local Training Board. Please introduce yourself for the sake of the committee members and for Hansard, and you have 20 minutes to use as you wish.
Mr Charlie Johnston: My name is Charlie Johnston. I'm the executive director of the Elgin, Middlesex, Oxford Local Training Board. I would like to express my appreciation for being allowed to present this morning.
The Elgin, Middlesex, Oxford Local Training Board is one of 25 local training boards in the province. As our name implies, we look after the training needs of the citizens of the counties of Elgin, Middlesex and Oxford. Our office is located in London. We are funded jointly by the Ministry of Education and Training and Human Resources Development Canada. Our main role is to look at what the community training needs are and provide recommendations to the Ministry of Education and Training and Human Resources Development Canada regarding those needs, specifically what sort of training programs are needed and will meet the needs of the community.
Our board is a large board, 22 members; it is a diverse board. It includes representatives from business, eight directors; from labour, eight directors; from the education and training community, two directors. There is one director representing women, francophones, visible minorities and persons with disabilities. This board is passionate about apprenticeship.
Early in 1997, prior to becoming the Elgin, Middlesex, Oxford Local Training Board, we were known as local board 15. The board put together a position paper on apprenticeship and it was submitted in response to a call for papers on apprenticeship. A year later, in early 1998, Minister Johnson released a press release on apprenticeship reform. My board instructed me to pull together an apprenticeship committee. The committee is made up of representatives from the board, where we have expertise in three of the four sectors. We augmented the committee with members from the motive power sector, where we lacked representation on the board.
I would like to read to you a general statement on apprenticeship that was developed by the board's apprenticeship committee and later approved by the board as a whole on May 28 of this year. There are 12 principles to this general statement on apprenticeship.
Principle 1: All provincial advisory committees must consist of representatives from labour and management. Apprenticeship intake should be controlled by a specific trade's provincial advisory committee to ensure a supply of skilled labour that is consistent with demand, making possible full employment for all workers.
Principle 2: Government should continue to promote and market apprenticeship and trades work to youth. Greater emphasis must be placed on getting the message out to those who are in a position to influence career decisions, such as parents and guidance counsellors. Secondary school curriculum should include a mandatory career path planning course that includes information on skilled trades careers.
I recently attended a meeting of guidance counsellors and tech heads, and the big concern was that we can tell young people how to become doctors and lawyers, but we really can't give them anything on skilled trades. There is no information. I had a conversation with representatives of the apprenticeship branch, and the big concern there was, "We can't publish anything because we don't know where apprenticeship reform is going." We've been talking about that for too long.
Principle 3: All learners should be offered the necessary generic employability skills training prior to entering apprenticeship or post-secondary programs through secondary school and/or pre-apprenticeship programs. Generic employability skills should also be offered for all post-secondary and apprenticeship programs. Being prepared with the basic communication and technical math skills will facilitate mobility from one type of program to another.
Principle 4: A process for assessing and determining prior learning credit should be developed and implemented in support of individuals wishing to enter the apprenticeship system. This could also be valuable for the recognition of individual experience and credentials from other provinces and countries. Provincial advisory committees should determine how this process is implemented.
Principle 5: The government's role should be to work with the provincial advisory committees to establish quality indicators for training deliverers. These indicators should be rigorously enforced and tied directly to the best training possible. For example, college grants should be directly linked to quality measures for apprenticeship training. The government should support the use of multiple delivery sources for apprenticeship training. The provincial advisory committee needs to be involved with this process.
Principle 6: The funding model should be based on the unique characteristics of apprenticeship, factoring in the demographics of apprentices and the contributions made by employers and apprentices to work-related training. The funding model should not shift the cost of apprenticeship in school-related training to apprentices or employers. Given that there are inherent challenges in recruiting for some apprenticeable occupations, the funding model should not present barriers to a specific industry's ability to develop and retain the skilled labour force required to meet demand. The funding model should be developed with the provincial advisory committees.
We have a real problem trying to get young people into the trade, because we can't tell them about tuition, we can't tell them about income support, and we don't have a lot of promotional literature to tell them what is involved with skilled trades training.
Principle 9: Local boards must be one of the groups government consults with around apprenticeship issues. Government action should be based upon any recommendations made by local boards. Government should also communicate back to local boards on the recommendations.
Our board is a volunteer board that donates large amounts of time because they are passionate about training and about skills. If their recommendations are not heeded or at least recognized, you will lose this valuable community resource.
Principle 10: There must be a statutory relationship between the employer and the apprentice that defines a greater level of commitment between the two parties regarding the completion of an apprentice's training. There needs to be a legislated minimum ratio of apprentices to journeypersons in trades where the provincial advisory committees see a future increase in demand. This would ensure that every employer that employs workers in a specific trade will participate in the training of apprentices and contribute to the future supply of journeypersons, so not just the small organizations training so the large organizations can steal.
Mr Smith: Mr Johnston, it's a pleasure to see you again. Thank you for your presentation this morning. Having met with your board, I also want to thank you for following up on my request with specific comments on the secondary school curriculum as it applies to technology.
With respect to principle 10, I wonder if you could elaborate a little bit more -- I certainly understand what the first sentence means, but from the start of the second sentence to the conclusion of that paragraph -- on what you envision in terms of legislated minimum ratios that are sensitive to increases in peaks and demands.
Mr Johnston: We see a situation where small employers take on apprentices, train them, get them through their apprenticeship, and as soon as they become journeypersons, they are lured away by larger employers that have not invested in apprenticeship training, just because they have the economic wherewithal to offer a greater wage.
We would like to see a situation where all employers that have that skill set, that trade, are actively involved in contributing to the investment in that skill trade. There are a number of ways of doing this. There are a number of models. I wish I had a nickel for every person who has gone over to Germany to look at that model. This committee looked at the model and, quite frankly, I don't think things like training taxes, training funds, credits, grants and subsidies are going to work. They are complicated, and business doesn't particularly like them at this point in time.
I think what we've got to do is keep it fairly simple. In trades, and I'll give you an example, in the tool and die making trade where there is a forecast increase in demand, and the provincial advisory committee would be the body that would make that call, then anybody who has in their employ a journeyperson tool and die maker would have to take on an apprentice and they would have to take on apprentices in the ratio according to how many journeypersons they have. For instance, General Motors, which might have 1,000 tool and die makers, if the ratio is 10%, would have to take on 100 apprentices.
Mr Smith: There have been a number of questions and different points of view expressed with respect to the role of provincial advisory committees. As you know, in the existing legislation there is one generic statement about the role of PACs. That has been broadened in the proposed legislation into six different areas beyond and including an advisory and a standards function.
In your opinion, is the legislation as drafted sufficient? The reason I'm asking you this is that I have been advised by the ministry that in fact PACs have given some concurrence to the language that's in this bill as it applies to the roles and functions of the provincial advisory committees. Is there more work required in that regard or is it sufficient in terms of the feedback you've received from the training board locally?
Mr Johnston: It is the opinion of the training board that that needs to be strengthened in the legislation, and it needs to be strengthened in the areas that we have indicated in this statement: looking at what the future demand is, being able to ensure the quality of in-school training, and there are a couple of other areas where we've referred to what the role of the provincial advisory committee must be.
I think it's something like training boards. If you really want to see them energized, moving and doing great work, then start giving them the mandate, making it clear, and start using the expertise that you have around the table. I think that's the way the local training board looks at the PAC.
Mr Caplan: Mr Johnston, thank you very much for your presentation. I want to pick up a little bit on where the parliamentary assistant left off. In principle number 10 you talk about the statutory relationship between employer and apprentice, but that's being changed in Bill 55. Employers are now becoming sponsors of training. There is no more employer-employee relationship. Is that what you're referring to, does that give you concern and, for the purposes of Bill 55, is that what specifically needs to be changed in order to have a specific relationship between employer and employee?
Mr Johnston: What we need to do is ensure that the apprentices get through their training as soon as possible. Too often in the past we have seen industry downturns that have resulted in layoffs of apprentices. We've seen some action by the Ministry of Education and Training to do simulated workplace-type training to get the apprentices through their apprenticeship. We need a commitment by somebody, and the way it has been in the past seems to be where I'm coming from.
The employer needs to step up to the plate and say: "Yes, I took on this apprentice. I owe that apprentice the opportunity to finish their training. If I can't do it, then I need to hand that apprentice off to another employer who can." The end result is we get that apprentice through the training. How that happens, I don't think that's really where the local training board wants to go, but we've got to move in that direction.
Mr Caplan: When you talk about the cyclical nature and the seasonal nature of a lot of the trades, if somebody goes into a trade area and is qualified in only specific skill sets, when the time comes that that changes, where is that person going to be able to find work? There's not going to be anything out there for them. To me, either they will be in a dead end, or they'll pass themselves off to the public as qualified electricians, plumbers, tool and die makers. That's a concern I have about what's going to happen because of the nature of work. Do you share that concern?
Mr Johnston: Absolutely. If you've trained somebody to do a very specific task and to repair a certain piece of equipment and that's it, and you happen to be the only industry that has that piece of equipment in the community, then what you've done is you've dead-ended that individual. You need to take a look at the trade in terms of it being a portable skill, just as if you're a physician. You have been certified to a certain skill set and you can move through to other provinces and around the world based on that credential you have obtained. I agree with the previous speaker. Why would we treat the skilled trades any differently? And if we do treat them differently, what message do we send to the young people? We need to start promoting young people to get into the trade.
Mr Lessard: Thank you, Mr Johnston. I agreed with much of what you said, especially principle number 10, that there needs to be greater level of commitment from employers to apprentices. It's an interesting suggestion that you make about the ratios of journeypersons to apprentices that I don't think we've heard suggested by anyone so far. I don't think there are going to be those provisions in the legislation or the regulations to require any level of ratios of journeypersons to apprentices. That is a good suggestion that is a bit different than establishing training funds, for example.
Mr Johnston: I think it probably would impact on the level of commitment between the parties involved in the apprenticeship training. It is the view of the board and the committee that we need to strengthen the contractual relationship between the apprentice and the employer, focusing on the end-game. What do we really want at the end of the process, and how do we engineer that that does happen?
Mr Lessard: One of the things that I think we want is for more young people to be involved in the skilled trades as an occupation to ensure that we have high-quality skilled tradespersons who are making a decent wage. One of the ways that we get there, I think, is through promotion, which you've touched on as well, trying to get more young people involved in skilled trades as a career path. I wonder whether you see Bill 55 as something that is going to promote skilled trades as a choice for young people or whether it's going to be a disincentive for young people to make that choice.
Mr Johnston: I don't see much in the bill that's related to promotion. You'll have to forgive my ignorance of the process, but maybe that's not where that's supposed to be. I would like to commend the government for the Ontario youth apprenticeship program, which I think is going to do a tremendous job in promoting apprenticeship. I'd like to thank the government for writing local training boards into the script.
I have the privilege of serving on three steering committees that will promote getting students in grade 11 into apprenticeship situations. I'm going to a very interesting program that involves the Durham College model for precision machining trades and involves Fanshawe College. It'll be interesting to see how many students come out to that information night at Fanshawe College this evening.
Maybe promotion shouldn't be in Bill 55, but there needs to be some concerted effort by all those involved, and that includes local training boards. I think we have a stake in promoting apprenticeship.
The Chair: We'll start with the first presentation this afternoon, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, local 773, if you would come forward. Thank you for joining us. If you could, for members of the committee and for the record, give your names and whatever other titles. Thank you.
Mr Sam Riddick: My name is Sam Riddick. I am the business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, local 773, here in Essex and Kent county. With me today is Jerry Wilson, who is the business manager for the IBEW, local 804, in Kitchener.
I'm here today representing the IBEW. In our area, we represent close to 500 men and women who work in the electrical industry. I also serve as a member of the Essex and Kent joint apprenticeship and training council. This is a committee that's made up of employer and union representatives. Together we direct the apprenticeship training of approximately 60 young men and women who are currently serving an electrical apprenticeship.
I'd like to begin my presentation by saying that the current Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act is a fundamentally sound piece of legislation that may require limited amendments. Any attempt at revising our current apprenticeship and training system must be approached with great care and great respect.
As someone directly involved in the electrical industry, a complaint I would have with the existing act is the lack of enforcement of it. I would certainly like to see aspects of our current apprenticeship act, such as apprentice-to-journeyman ratios, more strictly enforced. The introduction of Bill 55 will resolve this and many other issues by eliminating anything that would require enforcement.
In reviewing Bill 55, I feel that the most damaging effects of this legislation will be in regard to safety on the job sites and also to consumers. Currently, the electrical trade requires potential apprentices to have a minimum grade 12 education. Bill 55 would eliminate the requirement of a minimum education level. The construction industry is a potentially hazardous business. We as electrical workers would like to see the most highly educated people possible involved in our trade. Electrical work can be very complex, and there is always an element of danger when dealing with electricity. We would like to see minimum educational requirements stay in place to facilitate safer job sites and, in the long run, safer products passed on to consumers at the completion of a project.
Also, Bill 55 would eliminate the minimum of a two-year contract of apprenticeship. The elimination of minimum hours would likely see apprentices completing their theoretical training but not spending sufficient time on the job gaining practical, hands-on experience in real work situations. This will result in unqualified workers with little or no on-site experience. In addition to the safety and quality issues, these workers will likely be less productive on the job initially because of lack of experience.
Bill 55 eliminates legislated apprentice-to-journeyman ratios that in the past provided protection to the apprentice and to the customer. Apprentice ratios ensure that apprentices work under the supervision of a journeyman. Enforced apprentice ratios also help to ensure that work on a given job site is completed by an appropriate number of journeymen and apprentices. These ratios help provide assurance to consumers that they are receiving a quality job.
The entire concept of an apprenticeship system is based on the relationship between the apprentice and the journeyman as trainer and mentor. The elimination of legislated ratios opens the door to apprentices working on the job with insufficient supervision, as well as the use of apprentices to perform work for which they are not fully trained.
Bill 55 moves away from certification of trades to certification of specific skill sets that can cross trade jurisdiction. The electrical industry believes that all designations within the trade should be compulsory or restricted. Fragmenting the trade and restricting only specific skill sets could lead to unqualified individuals performing dangerous work which could put the worker and the public at risk. We feel that performing any specific aspect of electrical work requires a broad understanding of the electrical environment to avoid dangerous situations. An individual certified in a particular restricted skill in the context of, for example, plumbing, and then working on that same restricted skill set in an electrical context may be putting himself or herself and other workers in an unsafe situation.
Bill 55 will eliminate many aspects of apprenticeship that were previously included and, as such, enforceable by the government. The electrical trade sees a continuing role for government in legislating aspects of the trade and providing adequate enforcement of the act.
In closing, I would like to say that I am a product of the current Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act. I served a four-year apprenticeship of on-the-job training along with theory in the classroom. During this period, I received training from highly skilled journeymen and from highly qualified classroom instructors. I believe that the apprenticeship I served and the training I received were second to none. I believe that the current apprenticeship system in Ontario works and produces outstanding tradespersons. These highly educated and skilled young tradespersons ensure a bright future for our province in the electrical construction industry.
We in the electrical trade see Bill 55 as an unnecessary piece of legislation that should be shelved in its entirety. Our current apprenticeship system is successful and continues to provide outstanding tradespersons for the workforce.
Mr Jerry Wilson: My name is Jerry Wilson. I would like to make it clear that I'm here representing the central Ontario apprenticeship council, which comprises labour and contractor reps. If one of our contractor reps were able to make it down here, you would hear the identical thing that I am about to say.
We represent seven counties and we have a variety of industries in central Ontario. We have car plants, universities, food processing plants, a large number of insurance company headquarters, the Bruce nuclear power development, along with a large industrial, commercial and residential presence in all of these counties. I don't think we want to lessen the expertise anywhere, especially at the Bruce nuclear power development. I'll pull Toyota out of that list. They have spent $1.2 billion and the people we meet with there have announced that this was the best-built facility in the Toyota world, because of the skilled tradespeople and good contractors that were there.
For many years we have been quite successful in servicing all clients, because we have very skilled and competitive contractors and very skilled journeypersons and apprentices. When any of the owner-clients call the contractor to do an expansion or a renovation or simply to install a new line of some kind, the contractor-employee is either a licensed journeyperson or a registered apprentice working under the direction of a journeyperson.
Because all of our apprentices do a 9,000-hour apprenticeship, these people are qualified to do any installation they're called upon to do. They have seen all aspects of the industry and as a result are often asked to do much additional work above and beyond what was originally intended by the client. This is because of extensive on-the-job training and it is very good for business.
To replace this with something called "restrictive skill sets" or "modular training" is not the direction to go in the best interests of the electrical contracting business in Ontario. There is much concern that if Bill 55 were implemented as presented, the way we do business now would be greatly changed, but not for the better. There were very few buildings catching fire from electrical causes when qualified people did the work. This could change if the ratio is eliminated from what it is now. There is consumer protection when tradespeople are properly trained. To remove the ratio and allow such a situation as self-employed apprentices with no journeyperson teaching would not guarantee the consumer that electrical work was installed by a person who was properly trained.
Presently there is a great employer-employee relationship, and under the proposed "sponsor" part of Bill 55 this relationship could disappear. That would be an unnecessary loss. As a matter of fact, my tie pin says "excellence together" and I don't want to have to throw that tie pin away as quality deteriorates.
I don't think we want airline pilots or auto mechanics who safety-check cars to receive a licence without having someone qualified to teach them. Electrical is no less important. The provincial advisory councils are made up of a total mix from construction and industrial including employers, union and non-union; and labour, union and non-union. This committee should have more say than just as advisory, as Bill 55 indicates; the PAC will certainly not be opposed to change if change is required and if the industry will be better for it at the end of the day.
Rather than water down apprenticeship, as would happen with Bill 55, there was a situation recently with a group of residential electrical contractors who have employees with the domestic and rural licence and they want to increase their skills. These contractors are now choosing to have their apprentices go for the construction and maintenance licence rather than residential because they were too restricted and limited before. Even housing is getting into complicated fire alarms, security, and fibre optics, and the more training, the more valuable to the industry and the contractor. Also, these contractors work in commercial and industrial in some cases, and partial skilling is not adequate. Our apprenticeship council feels Bill 55 would mean partial skilling.
Under Bill 55, the word "trade" has all but disappeared. It is necessary to keep the aprenticeship and trades certification intact for a number of reasons. In the true sense of the word "journeyperson," when work is slow in one region or province, construction workers travel to where the work is. However, if in future we don't have the same full background and licence as we do now, we may not be employable in other parts of the country or in the United States, where presently there are opportunities for qualified construction workers. In other words, it is important for worker mobility to have a national standard and not some watered-down standard in the province of Ontario.
It is important that through changes we don't eliminate some qualified people from the industry by increasing costs. Now the apprentice is paying EI premiums, WSIB, EHT etc and can collect EI while doing the trade school part of the apprenticeship. To introduce tuition and remove EI would eliminate some people from the trade because they have families and could not survive periods with no income.
Presently the apprentice earns a regulated wage from the start of the apprenticeship. Under Bill 55, no minimum wage is proposed. This would reduce incentive to enter the trade and not prepare the apprentice financially for trade school. The issue of trade school costs should be left up to the PACs. The best thing we can do for youth is encourage skill training, not discourage it.
In central Ontario and the whole construction industry, in fact, youth are being employed. We have approximately 115 registered apprentices employed and another 185 applicants waiting for their aptitude test. There are no shortages of people entering the trade under the present structure. We don't have dropouts because the system works very well, and we don't agree with day release for trade school. The curriculum in school is very challenging, and the most efficient way is to be in school day after day, not once a week trying to remember where the instructor left off with theory. Even the hands-on shop portion is becoming high-tech, and once per week is not as effective as block release.
We are also in support of the status quo for the length of apprenticeship. There is a danger of graduating underqualified people with a shorter apprenticeship. Also, with the move to high-tech, a minimum of Grade 12 should be required for electrical. A survey states that the public supports that those doing electrical work in public buildings should hold a proper licence, and the best way to secure this is with the apprenticeship system in its present form.
Recently, the fire marshal brought in strict qualifications for those doing certain aspects of the fire alarm system. In other words, the skills are greater, not less. Programmable logic controls are a large part of our installations now. We are training our people on this and fire alarm, fibre optics, communications cabling and many other topics. But these new developments to the industry are above and beyond the rest of the trade we must know, such as lighting, motor controls, estimating, safety, switch gear, high voltage, conduit bending, robotics, fire alarm, just to name a few.
All this training is under the control of the local apprenticeship council. As a matter of fact, here's the training that we offer, and there are over 40 courses there at any given time, over and above the apprenticeships. So we don't need to learn less; we need to learn more. This apprenticeship council works very well because there is input from the workers and the employer. There is concern that under Bill 55 there would no longer be a joint apprenticeship council, and this would be a tremendous loss to the industry.
When industry needs an electrician, they want the whole, complete package. In many cases now, the tradesperson is asked to hard-wire an installation and then tie it into the PLC. This is requiring all the skills learned during the apprenticeship, and to lessen anything could make the tradesperson less employable in the future -- in other words, one-stop shopping. I refer to the Ontario Hydro code book. This is a new book and it's over 525 pages. This book has to be studied and all the rules have to be known by those who do electrical work. To abbreviate the apprenticeship in any way seems to go against the fact that the vast number of rules contained in this book have to be followed.
In conclusion, our council is very concerned about Bill 55 because we could have more than one standard in the pool of people. Construction makes up 40% of all the apprentices, and since the invention of electricity, this industry has done a remarkable job of creating new skilled people, even to the extent that many of our people leave construction when they are lured to industry because we are knowledgeable about all aspects of the trade. In many cases, the graduate was in a position to start his or her own business because of their extensive background. Under Bill 55, we fear this kind of foundation would not be built.
We have been trying to see the pluses with the introduction of Bill 55 and have failed to be able to identify them, but we have been able to see lots of minuses and do not know what the benefits would be.
Having gone through the apprenticeship myself, there is no doubt in my mind that on-the-job training is the only way to become an electrician knowledgeable in all aspects of the industry. More in-school is no more valuable. We had industry representatives meet with the MPPs in central Ontario and didn't have great difficulty convincing them that the apprenticeship system as we know it in construction is not broken. Employers are happy, apprentices are happy, journeypersons are happy, owners are happy. Why do we have Bill 55? It could very well break a good apprenticeship system. Thank you.
The Chair: I would call forward now the Sheet Metal Workers' International Association, local 235. Good afternoon, gentlemen. If you could, for the members of the committee as well as for the Hansard record, please introduce yourselves.
Mr Robert MacIntyre: Good afternoon, committee members. My name is Robert MacIntyre, business manager of local 235, sheet metal workers and roofers of Windsor, Ontario. To my right is James Moffat, chair of the sheet metal provincial advisory committee and a resource adviser on the roofers' provincial advisory committee representing employees; to his right is Dan Schmidt, chair of the roofers' provincial advisory committee representing roofer employers; and to his right is Frank Seip, co-chair of the sheet metal provincial advisory committee representing sheet metal employers.
This presentation is being made on behalf of the following organizations: the provincial advisory committee for the trade of sheet metal workers, comprised of equal numbers of employers and employees representing over 1,000 employers and over 12,000 journeymen sheet metal workers and registered apprentices in the construction industry in Ontario. Sheet metal is a compulsory certified trade. The role of PAC is to advise the government in all matters related to apprenticeship training in Ontario. Also, the provincial advisory committee for the trade of roofer comprises equal numbers of employers and employees, representing over 500 employers and over 3,000 journeymen, roofers and apprentices in the construction industry in Ontario.
Currently, the roofer trade has applied for voluntary recognition status, and its proposed set of regulations are before cabinet awaiting approval. The PAC has been established and is meeting regularly. Both trade advisory committees represent a cross-section of interests of the trade, including union and non-union employees working in the residential, industrial, commercial and institutional sectors of the construction industry.
Mr James Moffat: Good afternoon, Mr Chairman and committee members. I've provided a brief for the committee. It's rather lengthy, and I think a number of the organizations prior to me went into some detail and depth on some of the issues. I'm going to try to allow some time at the end of my presentation for questions. I'm going to summarize a lot that has already been said and what the industry has been saying for the last two years collectively. I want to emphasize right at the beginning that this is not about unions and it's not about management; this is about training. Let's not be ill advised that it's those big, bad, dirty union bosses who are against this bill. This is the industry that is against this bill.
We welcome the opportunity to address the standing committee on general government on Bill 55. We remain skeptical, however, because to date this government has not engaged in a lot of meaningful consultation or dialogue with the stakeholders in the construction industry on this crucial issue. As a result of this total disregard for the people who make apprenticeship work, the government has tabled a bill which will gut the apprenticeship system, result in a shortage of qualified apprentices, reduce the quality of training and create a serious health and safety risk to workers and the general public.
First, this bill has little to do with promoting training in Ontario, but rather its goals are to deregulate training, to lower standards in order to lower wages for apprentices, and to reduce the government's cost for training by passing them on to the apprentices. This could best be illustrated in the purpose clause, which says nothing about training but rather focuses on competition. Second, most of the changes will be put into regulations which have not been shared with industry. We think it is completely unreasonable to expect a response to only half a plan.
Bill 55 is extremely short-sighted, as the long-term damage will be significant. This is why the construction industry, both management and labour, has consistently told the government that this bill potentially will do more harm than good.
In the back of my brief I've attached schedule A. In it there's a letter dated October 19 that is addressed to Minister Johnson, and attached to that letter is a letter dated October 15. What that letter specifically says is that there are four sectors involved in apprenticeship training in Ontario: the industrial sector, the motive power sector, the service sector and the construction sector.
Over the period of the consultations, the government committed to having a government-industry working committee to deal with the criteria on the restricted skill sets. We all selected our employer and employee reps from the respective PACs from those industries and we met on October 15. During the course of the meeting, the discussion on restricted skill sets in the provision by all of the employer and employee reps from those four sectors was thoroughly debated. We asked the government bureaucrats if they would leave the room, that we would like to come to a position on the restricted skill sets provisions in Bill 55.
On July 21, the construction sector met to discuss this issue. There were PAC reps from all of the construction industry, both employer and employee reps. We came to a position at that meeting on restricted skill sets. I have also attached those minutes, but I'd like to emphasize the position of the construction sector at that meeting.
It was decided by all the reps at that meeting that the criteria for the restricted skill sets are to be used only in consideration of making construction trades compulsory, not to be used against skill sets; existing compulsory construction trades remain as they are in their entirety; all construction trades should be compulsory, provided that they meet established criteria; and all reference to skill sets should be removed.
That position was taken forward to this all-sector committee meeting. First of all, we went around the table. There were employer and employee reps at that table, and to a T those four sectors simply said that we are not in favour of carving up the trades with skill sets and restricted skill sets. But if the government does proceed, this is the statement we came up with: "If any skill set within a designated trade or occupation meet any criteria for a restricted skill set as determined by the trade specific PAC then the trade/occupation should be deemed restricted in its entirety."
We asked the government if they would table that position with cabinet. We were told at that meeting that they would not. The reason I'm pointing this out is I guess we're all wondering who is in favour of this bill. Here you have four sectors involved in apprenticeship training in Ontario that are telling the government, to a T, that they're not in favour of restricted skill sets, and we turn around and ask them to table that with cabinet, that that's our position, and they refuse to do it. What I'm trying to say is that the consultation process to date has been all one-sided.
If this bill is passed, it will deregulate and dismantle the present apprenticeship system and lead to a reduction in the quality of training and workmanship by eliminating all minimum standards and safeguards which are designed to ensure that apprentices receive quality training. It's going to eliminate compulsory certification. It's going to introduce the concept of multi-skilling, eliminate ratios, eliminate the requirement of two-year contracts. It's going to allow for part-time and contract workers. It's going to eliminate the minimum grade 10 education. It's going to omit any commitment to enforcement by this ministry, eliminate the minimum wage. It's going to eliminate the definition of "employer" and replace it with "sponsor." Last, it's going to continue to relegate the industry committees to strictly an advisory position.
One thing that we have said from the get-go -- the minister made an indication that he would like to see an industry-driven system. We said fine; if you want industry to drive the system from the local apprenticeship committee up to the industry committees, give us the mandate and empower the committees with some authority to deal with the issues.
This bill is going to act as a barrier and a disincentive to attracting new apprentices by the introduction of in-school tuition and administration fees. It is going to eliminate long-term job prospects by reducing the quality of training, meaning that apprentices will learn to do many things very poorly. It will also threaten the health and safety of workers and the general public, as workers and apprentices will be performing work they are not qualified to perform and will not be adequately supervised. With the elimination of compulsory certified trades, unqualified persons will be performing the work of skilled trades such as electricians, pipefitters and my trade, sheet metal.
The government claims that its goal to move from legislative minimum standards to voluntary compliance is positive. We cannot and do not accept that position. While the stakeholders should be involved and provided with much flexibility, there is no reason to eliminate minimum standards below which no one can go. The training of workers and the health and safety of workers and the public must not be left to the pressures of the marketplace. The deregulation of minimum standards will only lead to the reduction in quality of apprenticeship training and put the public and the environment at risk.
This bill in its present form cannot be saved or improved with amendments. The only proper thing the government should do is delay passage of the bill and commence real dialogue and consultation with all sectors to ensure that we have an apprenticeship training system that is second to none in North America.
Mr Frank Seip: I'd just like to add, as a person who came through the system initially as an apprenticeship and then as a journeyman, foreman and supervisor, and now as president and general manager of a company and an employer of skilled sheet metal workers, I heartily endorse what was said. I also need to ask the question, who is for Bill 55? It really doesn't seem to serve any purpose other than perhaps shifting the cost of the program to the employers by calling them sponsors.
It seems to me that we're really hurting the industry and the trade and the country as a whole. There's a certain amount of pride in any trade apprentice or journeyman. Some countries are very strong technically, and they're strong technically because they have this pride factor in their industry. You're trying to take that away. You're reducing the qualifications to come in. I know in our trade it has always been grade 12. You're trying to even drop the grade 10 part away from it. Math becomes increasingly more important in different aspects of trades, and you're taking that requirement away.
I need to stress that as an employer I do not see what you can accomplish with this bill. It just doesn't seem to do anything. With the skill sets and things like this, you're going to fragment it. There are going to be labourers doing sheet metal, and you may say that's fine, but it isn't fine, because there are safety issues. Safety issues are more and more in the forefront. You have WHMIS you have MSDS sheets. You're so concerned about the environment. You're concerned about what happens inside factories and buildings. I think that's great. We have to look after our people. But here you've introduced a bill that's going to have a negative effect on safety issues and things like that.
Again, I repeat myself: Who really is in favour of Bill 55 other than someone who appears to be trying to save some money? I'm going to repeat myself, but I don't believe the funding system for the apprentice system is broken, so why repair it? Leave it the same.
Mr Lessard: I don't know what I can put in there in a minute but, Mr Moffat, you mentioned that you'd like to have this bill slowed down so that people can be genuinely listened to and their concerns taken into account. As you're aware, and I just want to let other people know, these hearings and the clause-by-clause hearings and the third reading debate are all included in a time allocation motion that will limit third reading debate to two hours. That's the amount of debate that will be left when this gets called back for third reading.
I want to give you an opportunity to talk about empowerment of the PACs. We've heard they are really only given some advisory role. Do you have some concerns about their capacity just to advise? Do you think they should have additional powers in order to ensure that this process at least makes some attempt to try and work?
Mr Moffat: I think fundamentally we're the experts. Under this legislation, the specific trade-industry committees should be empowered with a mandate rather than just strictly being left as advisory. What the government is intent on doing here with this bill is to deregulate the minimum wage, the ratios and the entry level requirements. They're going to ask the PACs to establish those standards and place them in guidelines or into policy. There will be no opportunity for the industry committees to enforce those guidelines. The only way they can do that is to put some clout back into the industry committees. Somehow you have to empower those industry committees to take control of the system.
Mr Smith: Thank you, Mr Moffat, for your presentation. It's good to see you again. Just by way of information for the audience, there are no tuition fees proposed in Bill 55. In fact, funding for seat purchases and other related activities in the apprenticeship system provincially has increased with respect to this particular issue.
I had just one question for you. Your industry has requested an exemption to the minimum grade 10 entry requirement. I'm wondering, given that you've made such a request in the past, why are you not confident in the abilities of industry to set those standards, given that you've made an exemption request previously?
Mr Moffat: First of all, I want to deal with the tuition issue. On June 25, the minister made the announcement and the first reading was read out in the House. He's been saying from the get-go, and I'm going to quote here what it says in the background paper: "New approaches to financing must be implemented. Ontario's response will be to implement tuition and financial assistance."
Mr Dan Schmidt: The reality of the roofing trade is that you need an exemption from the grade 10. It's highly labour intensive. They're very hard-working people, but generally speaking they have little or no education. We get a lot of European people coming to work. Their educational level is not up at a grade 12 or even at a grade 10 level. We're looking at something equivalent to get them in to learn the roofing trade. The roofing trade is taught more hands-on than it is taught in an academic sort of way.
Mr Smith: Yes. I wasn't questioning your motive; I guess I was questioning the fact that as an industry you've recognized the reality of your industry and have taken those steps to remedy that. Why couldn't a PAC --
Mr Caplan: I'd like to thank Mr Moffat and Mr MacIntyre for their presentations. You both spoke a bit about the consultation process which has taken place. You said, I think, to the government in your presentation: "Don't eliminate the wage provisions. Don't eliminate the journeyperson ratios." They did all of those things. Maybe you'd just like to tell us about some of the things that they listened to you about. Was there anything they listened to you about in drafting and crafting Bill 55?
Mr Moffat: I can only recall one thing that they listened to, and that was the argument around the age, 16. I think that remains in the bill. But during the consultations a lot of us really believed that this was an opportunity, that maybe this one time the government, with this piece of legislation, would listen to us. When they released that cabinet document that was signed off in August 1997, we as an industry were working in good faith with the government in doing their consultations. To have that thrown in our face even prior to the summary report that came out in September -- I guess that's why we're a little bit concerned about not having the regulations before us.
Mr Caplan: I'm just curious. If the government didn't listen to you in the previous consultations, do you have any confidence at all they will listen to you? This bill essentially says, "Trust us; we will take care of you." Do you have any confidence at all they will do that?
The Chair: At this time I would call on St Clair College. Thank you very much for joining us this afternoon. For the record and for the members present, could you introduce yourselves, and you have 20 minutes to use as you wish.
Mr Jack McGee: Mr Chair, members of the committee, I'm Jack McGee, president of St Clair College. With me is Dan White, the director of business technology and trades training at the college. Our purpose this afternoon is to discuss the impact on training of any changes which are coming in apprenticeship and to discuss some of the innovations which we have brought to apprenticeship and some of the areas of concern that we have.
Mr Dan White: Apprenticeship as we know it is a very valuable work-and-learn model and one that I don't think has been duplicated in any other form of education or training as we understand it in Canada. We believe this method of learning is crucial, yet the system does require some change which will reflect the current needs of the learner, the industry and the economy of Ontario; there is need for some reform. Is it Bill 55? That is yet to be determined.
We listened to our learners. What they learn in school in many cases is not what they learn or do on the job. That's a concern to us. Many part-time apprentices experience a weak learning environment, as in many cases they are required to work not just 40 hours a week but a 60-hour work week, which means they attend school two nights per week. In a part-time mode, that type of work-and-learn method is not always the best for any student.
There is a requirement for greater flexibility in remedial opportunities, which need to be available for some of the in-school components. If a person taking a basic, intermediate or advanced level of education fails a math credit or a blueprint reading credit, right now under the current system they must go back and repeat the whole level. There is no opportunity for them to repeat that one core part that they have had some trouble with.
Opportunities to take prior learning and have it recognized as part of the apprenticeship in-school portion: When a student has some education from some other source or other country, give them prior learning assessment that will truly mean something and give them credit towards their apprenticeship and the ability to transfer credits from post-secondary education and/or apprenticeship back and forth so they can receive additional certification. In some cases, time-based training can be restrictive; not always, but it can be.
What we hear from the industry and in some cases labour is that the skills sets of our existing journeypeople -- and this is in particular the industrial side, not the construction side of the occupation -- are in many ways not keeping pace with the rapid advancements in technology. The in-school portion of apprenticeship does not and cannot keep pace with the technology change in the workplace unless we increase time. Time is always a factor, especially when the government's paying for it and now is looking for ways that they do not have to.
Matching the skills training being delivered in school with the practical component being gleaned at work is not always possible, and by that I mean the matching of skill sets. Has a basic apprentice, before they come to school, performed those functions prior to or shortly after taking that basic level of training?
The industry wants a greater say in what is taught and how it's delivered to improve the effectiveness of apprenticeship training. Currently under the model that we have, it takes a considerable amount of time to make those changes to the curriculum that's taught or the standard that's set.
The real key here is increased access to apprenticeship for youth. How do we get young people interested in exciting careers in apprenticeship fields? Conversely, how do we get employers that are interested enough to offer apprenticeships?
Continual, recognized skills enhancement learning for existing journeypersons must be made available. We used to, in this province, have a technician/technologist upgrading fund where we allowed people to come back and learn new skills. Right now that fund has dried up and we do not offer that type of training or opportunity to those people. In many ways it's left to them, to their own devices, to find ways to upgrade.
Apprenticeship reform issues which require emphasis: How do we keep curriculum current? How do you tie in-school closer to the on-the-job component? I think that's truly the work-and-learn model that needs to be enhanced. How do you attract youth to these exciting skilled occupations? Why I want to stress youth: The average apprentice in Ontario is 27 years of age. We still don't know why they don't come in straight out of high school.
How can you entice employers to increase the number of apprenticeship opportunities for youth? How will apprenticeship be funded by June 1999 in order to ensure that it does not overburden the learners and/or the employers? That's a concern.
Some recommendations: Attached to this you'll see a model that we have been working on with the school boards in this area, which is Windsor, Essex, Chatham, Kent and Lambton, which speaks to the Ontario youth apprenticeship program, which does require greater coordination but will allow a person to gain apprenticeship credits starting as early as the age of 16 while they're in high school, where they can do a semi-type co-op but they will get some experience with transferability. There is a model set in place through articulation agreements with different colleges, not just St Clair, where they can ladder into a college program and finish off their apprenticeship training.
The second part is a formal linking of apprenticeship in some cases to applicable technician and/or technology designations which can be offered concurrently to provide the competencies required for the future, such as the automotive manufacturing skills initiative which Industry Canada is funding currently at St Clair College.
Then, collaborative -- meaning employer, labour, education and government -- pilot projects, which require adequate funding to find and deliver training solutions prior to June. If there is reform required, what type of model will it be and what will it look like in the future?
The flexibility between block release, day release and part-time evening needs to address not only the employers' concerns but also the apprentice/learner and education provider requirements for a quality learning experience. We are fearful that in the new model where an apprentice may have to pay for their own training we're going to see the disappearance of block release training or the type of training that currently takes place over a two-month period, eight to 10 weeks, because in many cases the burden is left with the learner and they may not be able to afford it. In many cases, I don't think they will be able to.
The in-school training costs in the future cannot be downloaded on to the existing grant structure -- I speak in particular about the college but I'm sure my counterparts in the school boards would feel the same way -- without an increase in both the operating grant and, if there is a tuition fee, that part for skill loans and grants. Ontario assistance may not be available or they may not qualify because of their earning potential.
St Clair College of Applied Arts and Technology is attempting to address the skill shortage needs through our centre-for-excellence-in-manufacturing proposal for the industrial side of the sector. This centre will provide the vehicle enabling a seamless transition from apprenticeship through post-secondary education to work, involving both full- and part-time learners. There is a real need to establish centres of excellence, not just in manufacturing but in construction, automotive and other occupations as well.
Mr Carroll: Jack and Dan, it's good to see you again. I'm a little confused. Maybe you can help me here. The previous two presenters both told us very emphatically: "There's nothing wrong with the system. Leave it alone." You started off your presentation by saying you support apprenticeship reform.
In the city of Chatham-Kent, as both of you know, we're dealing with a group of people because of an issue revolving around the apprenticeship issue. We know that in the town of Wallaceburg there's a desperate shortage of skilled tradespeople. We heard reference this morning to the fact that there are pages and pages of ads in the Windsor Star looking for skilled tradespeople. As a previous automobile dealer where we had apprentice mechanics all the time and could never get enough, as soon as we got them to the point where they were trained, large industry stole them from us because they could pay more money.
Everything I see in practicality out in the real world tells me the apprenticeship system that we currently have in place is not generating enough skilled tradespeople, is not attracting our young people who should be going into the skilled trades and have the talent to go into the skilled trades. Yet with the reform that we're bringing forward, we hear group after group come forward and say: "Leave the system alone. It's working fine." You're educators. Do you think the system that we currently have is working fine to serve the young people of our province and the employers of our province?
Mr McGee: I think there are several answers to that question, because the discussion that we heard by the last two presentations was about Bill 55, which is an omnibus bill and includes a number of aspects to it. We have seen and are experiencing and hearing from learners, from industry and from labour about where apprenticeship, as it exists today, does need to be fixed. What we're offering today is an idea of some of the viewpoints which we have with respect to that, to reflect back what we have heard from people who are using the system.
One of my great concerns has to do with youth unemployment in this province and country. I believe we are not finding enough remedies to solve youth unemployment. We have too many people who are leaving the education system after grades 10, 11 and 12 and who are not coming back into education until they're in their mid- to upper 20s. As a consequence, the opportunity to have those people drive the economy and create taxes and wealth for the province and for themselves is diminished. We need to be focusing on the right kinds of skill and education that learners require in our society so that they can earn a very good income, that they can take a responsible position in society and they can drive our economy.
I believe apprenticeship is one of those vehicles, which has not been used adequately to that end. When we look at it there are concerns. We heard the discussion on tuition. We understand that a $400 tuition will be charged. As an institution which is responsible for education in the post-secondary area, the funding unit per student has gone from $5,200 in 1989 to less than $2,900 per student today, and the increase in tuition hasn't come close to offsetting that reduction. As the federal government moved out of apprenticeship funding and transferred it to the province, we're concerned that we're going to see the same kind of erosion in output once the provincial commitment to a three-year freeze on apprenticeship ends.
Apprenticeship is very costly. The comment in this paper by Mr White with respect to the need for capital is a fundamentally important requirement to apprenticeship, especially in those trades where technology is a fundamental part of what they are doing, because technology has been changing so rapidly. Unless capital equipment is funded, we're going to see a problem where the right skill sets will not be able to be delivered.
Many of the people who are apprentices require some kind of income support because of where they come from. With the employment insurance changes that are coming, that income support is no longer available.
The indenturing of apprentices has been a sore point with industry for a number of years. If apprentices are not going to be indentured, they're not going to be guaranteed to come to whoever is providing the education, the training. That is a real issue for them because they need the income in order to do that. You heard Mr White speak about the many hours that people work when they're trying to do an apprenticeship part-time. Most of our people, as you heard, are in their mid- to upper 20s, which means that they're probably parents, or in many cases single parents, so income is a very significant part of what they need.
When we're looking at apprenticeship, it is not a very simple thing to put your finger on, because it has so many aspects to it. The time-based requirement: People who already have the skills having to go through some large number of hours in order to achieve what they require is a significant disincentive to them and it's also a disadvantage to them economically and it's a disadvantage to the province economically. These are among the kinds of things that we are trying to identify so that some reason can be brought to bear as the model goes forward.
One other point that was mentioned by Mr White that I'd like to reiterate is the eligibility of apprentices for income support; Ontario student loans, for example, or federal loans, whatever funding is available. As people take more and more responsibility for their own income and are earning very little as it is, then the need for some sponsored assistance is fundamental to their ability to get an education. We have found through numerous studies that when people do not have the financial wherewithal to undertake an education, they're extremely disadvantaged and less likely to succeed.
Mr Duncan: The key recommendations you have, I take it you are acknowledging those are not part of this bill and they're issues that should be looked at. I do, however, want to go to the five points you've raised above. These are, "Apprenticeship reform issues which require emphasis." I take it these are the issues that you feel require emphasis at this point in time. In your view, does this bill address any of those issues which require emphasis to strengthen the apprenticeship program in Ontario?
Mr White: In looking at the flexibility that would be required to keep the curriculum current, there is some opportunity under the bill for that. For the remainder, I don't think there is a close enough tie.
Mr Lessard: First of all, I want to start out by congratulating St Clair College for their constant innovation and the partnership that you've entered into with Chrysler and CAW local 444 to introduce the electrical technician and technologist program which we heard about a bit earlier today. We heard about the success of that program.
One of the things you mentioned, Mr McGee, that I agree with entirely is that there are skill shortages that you recognize and that we all recognize will continue in the future, and how is it that we encourage young people to engage in apprenticeship programs and how do we encourage employers to provide those opportunities for people? Even though we've heard that in the Windsor Star there are lots of ads for skilled tradespeople, we hear from a lot of young people that they want to take advantage of apprenticeship training opportunities but they don't find that they're available under the current system. I don't see that the system is broken, but the fact is that those opportunities aren't arising under the current system. You have taken some steps to try and address that. I'm wondering. There isn't anything in the present legislation that prohibits you from taking some of these innovative steps to try and address those issues, is there?
Mr McGee: No, I'm not aware of any. The biggest inhibition to apprenticeship is the biggest inhibition to co-operative education and that is the willingness of employers to fund the learner and also to make sure that the resources are available. Technology is changing dramatically and the amount of investment that we have to make to update our curriculum is phenomenal and there just isn't enough funding available in the system to continue to do that. So there has to be recognition, I believe, of the tremendous constraints that the education and training system has been under in Ontario for a good number of years and that we have to find a way in which to make sure we can provide the wherewithal for the learners to get the skills they need to drive this economy, because it really is about our future tax base. It is about people who have the innovation and the vision for the future of this province.
In this community of Windsor, Essex and Chatham-Kent, I can't help but be impressed by the number of people who have apprenticeship backgrounds who are doing phenomenally well as industry leaders and as civic leaders. I think that speaks to the value of apprenticeship and to what it teaches people and to what they become and what we should be striving very hard to make sure they are able to become.
The Chair: The next presentation I would call is the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers, local 700. I'd like to welcome you, gentlemen. If you could, introduce yourselves for members of the committee and for the Hansard record. You have 20 minutes to use as you wish.
Mr Greg Michaluk: My name is Greg Michaluk. I'm business manager of Ironworkers local 700. With me today is Fred Marr. He's the president of the Ironworkers District Council in the province of Ontario.
I'm glad to be here. I'd like to thank those who got me on the list. I've been here since early morning and I've heard a lot of interesting comments, a lot of really good feedback that I hope is taken into consideration before this bill becomes final. I intend to give some background on who the Ironworkers are and what we do. I'm going to restrict my comments to three specific subjects as they affect the trade of ironworkers, those being skill sets, apprentice ratio and tuition.
It's ironic that the Ironworkers are following my good friends from St Clair College, because it wasn't too long ago that St Clair College, which was a training delivery agent for the ironworker apprentices, the in-school portion, came to me a couple of years ago and said that they could no longer be the delivery agent for the training of apprentices due to the cutback of transfer payments to their college that the government imposed on the colleges. Today we are the training delivery agent at our training centre here in Windsor.
A little bit of background on the Ironworkers: local 700 has been a chartered member of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers since 1946. We provide employers in the Windsor-Sarnia-London area with skilled tradesmen to perform a variety of tasks such as structural steel erection, machinery moving and setting, all types of conveyor installation, rebar placing for reinforced concrete, ornamental and miscellaneous ironwork, in-plant contract maintenance, as well as providing certified welders to perform all this work.
Our local union, Ironworkers local 700, is comprised of 650 active journeymen. We have 115 apprentices, 15 pre-apprentices, 87 retirees, for a total membership of 867. The average age of our membership is 42, which happens to be the lowest average age of ironworkers in Canada. These numbers reflect that the ironworker industry in southwestern Ontario is proactive concerning apprenticeship, recruiting and training.
Local 700 has been involved with the formal ironworker apprenticeship program since its inception as a certified trade in 1967. Representatives from both the Ironworkers union and the employers have been active in working with the Ontario government to establish training standards and regulations for ironworker apprentices by consistently serving on PACs and other committees with the common goal of providing proper training and skill development for all ironworkers working at the trade.
I have been a member of the Ironworkers since 1969, having served the required apprenticeship and working at the trade until 1991, at which time I became an full-time officer of local 700. I have served as the Ironworker local apprenticeship committee chairman for eight years from 1981 through 1988 and am presently active with the provincial advisory committee of the ironworker trade as well as a committee member of the federal sectoral adjustment service that is presently working on standardized training criteria for ironworkers across Canada, the red seal program.
The proper training of future ironworkers is very important to the industry. Qualified, skilled workers are the industry's backbone. Change and/or reform, when made for the betterment of the industry, is both necessary and welcomed. Through my years of experience with apprenticeship training I have seen positive progression. However, today, what I see coming from Bill 55 is just the opposite. There is proposed language in the bill which will take the industry back, in my view, to when the workforce was generally composed of semi-skilled workers.
The first issue I want to address is skill sets. At present the ironworker trade has training standards that have been developed over the years by industry people, both employers and tradesmen in conjunction with the government, of course. The training standards have been revised and updated by these same people to reflect the proper qualifications and training required to become a skilled journeyman ironworker. The training standards are taught in the classroom as well as on the job. None of the established standards and/or skills are stand-alone. The skills taught to the apprentice are properly intermeshed to produce a complete, qualified tradesman capable of performing any and all work functions required.
To piecemeal the skills required would definitely produce an inferior tradesman. The variety of skills and tasks required to perform work properly entails that the tradesman have the ability to use one or all or any number of skills as the job dictates. Allowing an apprentice to acquire skill sets as set out in Bill 55 would be denying him the ability and vision of understanding his complete trade. Most important of all, it would pigeonhole him or her into being able to perform only certain work functions with any degree of skill, thereby limiting his work opportunities as well as creating a less desirous worker for employers. There has to be a continuous flow to the training, not stops and starts, which Bill 55 would produce.
When employers order manpower from the Ironworkers' hiring hall, they want and expect a complete tradesman who is capable of performing any and all work functions efficiently. In my view, the present method of training accomplishes this; Bill 55 would not.
"The Ministry of Education and Training would like to hear the thoughts, concerns and opinions of the non-college training delivery agents. The topics of discussion will include the training delivery accreditation and the ongoing delivery of high-quality training."
The second issue is apprentice ratios: Removing apprentice ratios, to me, makes absolutely no sense at all. Again, the industry, the employers, employees and tradesmen in conjunction with the provincial government, through the PACs, have established the present ratios. The present ratios reflect the most efficient way to introduce and properly train new tradesmen into the workforce. Why would we deviate from this? Removing ratios will only dilute the skill level of the workforce and will also create negative health and safety issues. That would be naturally due to an increase of inexperienced workers on the job, and then it's a snowball effect. It would increase the cost of WSIB for the employer and it would result in an overall cost increase for doing business here in Ontario. That's not something I think anybody wants to see happen.
The third thing I would like to comment on is tuition costs. I don't want anyone in this room, especially the apprentices, to believe that tuition is not going to be a reality. I've heard comments today, throughout the day, saying that it's not contained in Bill 55. That's true, but it's a trick comment.
As the training deliverer of our ironworker apprenticeship, I have a signed agreement, as all training delivery agents have, with the ministry. It's signed by the director of the Ministry of Education and a district manager. At the back of this contract, which runs from September 1 to the end of April 1999 -- I'll just read again the pertinent paragraph. "Terms of payment" -- they go on to tell us the amount of money we're getting for the ironworker seats. Then the second paragraph says, "Payments will be adjusted to exclude those clients, both full- and part-time, identified to pay tuition costs."
Again, just to reconfirm my suspicions, I have a summary of a teleconference dated Friday, July 12, 1998, with the Minister of Education and Training. I have in front of me the minutes from that teleconference which I was involved in. They make about 15 or 20 points, and I'll read the pertinent ones.
Under the general messages it states, "The minister had announced that tuition for apprentices would be piloted this September." Under "Tuition and financial assistance" it's stated that "Tuition would be based on the cost to the government, ie, approximately $2,400 for eight-week blocks released at a per diem of $58.64." Another point under that: "It is anticipated that apprentices would have to contribute from 10% to 30% of the cost."
The second point, which I find interesting, is, "A loan will be available to help apprentices meet this cost." There is already a recognition from the government that apprentices may not be able to afford this. The government knows this, and if we go on, they also have a draft on loans and grants, and they go on to establish how loans and grants will be given, even down to the fact that after a certain time period interest will kick in. That tells me in pretty plain language that there is going to be tuition to our apprentices, and I believe this is wrong. Tuition fees for skilled trade apprentices only serve to financially penalize a worker for trying to become a skilled, productive worker, which ultimately benefits all Ontarians.
An apprenticeship program for an ironworker apprentice is contingent on being employed. That's the key. Earning a living and learning a trade go hand in hand. The new recruit, who is assigned to employers via the local apprenticeship committee, in our trade serves a probationary period prior to becoming indentured. This allows the industry as well as the worker to decide if suitability to the trade is proper. The probationary period is at no cost to the government; in fact earning a wage and paying taxes benefits the government.
After an appropriate time period the apprentice is indentured into the apprenticeship program, understanding that there will periods of full-time classroom instruction. Many of our apprentices have families to support and all apprentices certainly have financial obligations. When the apprentice is required to pay additional monies through tuition, it will only add to the financial burden that presently exists for him or her. Remember, this same apprentice is in the workforce full time, with the exception of school periods, and remitting a good portion of his wages to the same place as everyone else, that being the government coffers in the form of taxation.
Both ironworker apprentices and journeymen in my local also have employer contributions made on their behalf to a pension plan from day one so that they are not a financial burden on society in the future. What I am trying to say is that the apprentice is paying for his training. Tuition is inappropriate, some type of fee in addition to what he's already paying. To additionally tax the apprentice in the name of tuition would only serve to discourage potential tradesmen from entering into proper training, thereby diluting Ontario's skilled workforce and creating more unskilled workers unable to attain full-time employment and good-paying jobs.
In summary, I'd like to say that having been actively involved with apprenticeship and training issues, I can only conclude that this proposed bill as written is not the voice of those experienced and concerned with improving skill training in this province. This is not an industry-driven document. Past practices of the industry, through advisory committees, have indeed made positive changes to apprenticeship standards and regulations. Productivity and skills of properly trained workers have never been better in this province, and only because government has wisely listened to and taken direction from industry people. This is only common sense. Both employers and tradesmen have enthusiastically participated in and given direction to apprenticeship training from the beginning.
To see many years of hard work and progress be destroyed by Bill 55 is very disheartening, to say the least. To have this bill become law, with little or no input from the people who are the most knowledgeable, the industry itself, is unacceptable. Bill 55, as presently drafted, can only lead me to conclude that it is simply another money grab by the present government, with little or no regard for the people of Ontario.
Mr Fred Marr: I did have a few things to present but it's been pretty well done here. Only that local 700 here in Windsor, which covers Sarnia and London, is the leader in apprenticeship training as far as the ironworker trade goes; and as president of the district council, I would like to stress to you that we are located in Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, Sudbury and Thunder Bay as well as Windsor.
The message is the same across the province. We want the government to be a partner in training with us, all governments, and they have been since 1967 or 1968. Your partnership, your involvement, has to be financial, funding. You get more bang for your buck out of an apprentice than you probably do in any of the other investments you're involved in. You should continue. We should look to go to the next century with an expanding apprenticeship program.
I don't know that construction and industry should be in the same barrel. Maybe it should; maybe it shouldn't. That's for you people to determine or maybe for us to determine. The message across the province of Ontario from the ironworkers is the same message you've heard from Greg today.
Mrs Pupatello: Thank you very much for coming. I enjoyed your presentation today. I have a question, however, for the parliamentary assistant. I ask if you could comment now and perhaps retract the comments you've already made on record about tuition, given the growing body of evidence that everyone, evidently, but the parliamentary assistant is aware that the whole intention has been to introduce tuition fees. So far today you're on record as saying it has nothing to do with the bill, the government has no intention of introducing tuition fees, and today we have more evidence that it's in government document background pages, it's in personal conversations with everyone who has been involved with the process. I'd like the parliamentary assistant's comment.
Mr Smith: I'd be pleased to make a comment, because that's in fact not what I said. I think the presenter himself recognized that tuition fees are not in the bill. He said that. I also said today that the minister is on the record as indicating tuition fees would not be implemented until such time as there's a labour mobility agreement with the federal Liberal government, which subsequently has withdrawn $42 million from apprenticeship training. That's the issue, that's what I said to these people today, not what you suggested.
The Chair: At this point I call to the table the CAW, local 200. Good afternoon, Mr Hargrove. If possible, for the members of the committee and for Hansard, could you have the members at the table introduced.
Mr Buzz Hargrove: Thank you, Mr Chairman and members of the committee. Ron Jones is the president of the Canadian Auto Workers union's skilled trades council, representing about 20,000 skilled trades workers in Ontario, including many apprentices -- not enough, but many; Ted Squire is a national staff representative with our union dealing with skilled trades issues; and Ken Lewenza is president of the CAW council, representing 215,000 CAW members across Canada. I'm Buzz Hargrove, national president of the union.
I appreciate the opportunity to appear before the committee. We met as a union with Mr Johnson in his office a couple of months ago and outlined to him our concerns. I'm not going to go through the individual concerns today. You have a copy of our brief. I believe, from all the reports I've received this morning coming out of Toronto and here, that the arguments have been made about the problems with this bill. I simply want to make a short statement and listen to responses and hear from the committee what they have to say about why we're in this mess we're in.
First, the lack of consultation: Never in my lifetime, and I've been around the labour movement, around the political movement, for a lot of years and dealt with governments of all political stripes, have I had the experience I've had in the last three and a half years with the lack of consultation on important issues facing working people and the people of Ontario generally that we have faced with this government.
Moving ahead with this legislation is just one more example of people who get elected, who somehow sense that not only do they have the power to impose their ideas on Ontario, but they've taken all the brains from the province and put it into 82 people who make up the government of the province. Some people challenge me a bit sometimes that I tend to think I know everything, and that's fair. But one thing people never challenge me on is the idea that I'm open to discussion and debate and listening to people, and that's the problem we're having with what's happening here.
By any stretch or any measure, we have some of the most successful industries in the country and around the world in Ontario, and a major contributor to that industry has been the skills of our skilled trades workforce, whether it's construction trades or manufacturing or mining. In every sector of the economy of the province, the skilled workers have been a major contributor. Do we have a perfect model that we'd like to sell around the world in skilled trades training and bringing apprentices into the program and ensuring that our province is ready to meet the challenges of the new millennium? Of course not, and we're working on that.
We have with us here today a group of young people who are at Chrysler and what we refer to as a school-to-work program that was worked out with St Clair College, Chrysler Corp and our union, I believe a model. If this committee is serious about improving things in Ontario, it should have been calling us in before it ever started drafting any legislation, to say: "What's this all about? How does this fit? What does it mean for the future?" Because I believe it is the future. People with vision, people with understanding and caring and concern about the future: about the future of industry, about the future of young people, about jobs in our province. The late Yves Landry understood that, but we don't sense that out of Queen's Park at all with this legislation.
What we're saying here today is this bill should be scrapped. We should start sitting around a table like this with people who are in this room and others around the province who have a lot of experience with what's going on in the workplaces and have a lot of ideas about how we improve our workplaces for the future so we can remain number one in the auto industry, in the aerospace industry, in the electrical industry.
It's absolutely fascinating that a report just in the last few days talked about how Canada is falling behind in productivity growth. In the industries we're involved in, where you have a good skilled trades program, where the labour movement is involved, the employers are involved, government is involved working with us instead of against us and the academic world is involved, every one of those industries is beating the United States and beating others around the world in terms of productivity, and we're going to dismantle that. Give me a break.
Anybody who has any sense at all about what's happening in our workplaces -- let me just give you the example of the auto industry. I can go through several of them and give you a lot of detail if you want. Canada is one of the most competitive auto industries in the world in terms of productivity, in terms of quality, in terms of cost. We are one of the most competitive industries in the world. What you're proposing here, not tomorrow but within 10 years someone will be back to fix the mess that we leave with this legislation, if people don't stop and listen.
What I'm proposing I guess is revolutionary with this government. That is, stop, put the brakes on, consult with people who know, including industry. I was with the top people from Chrysler and Daimler this morning, the top people from Germany, and they're talking about taking our program and doing an exchange program with Germany, which is one of the leading countries around the world in terms of training young apprentices. They want to see what we're doing, because they're starting to drop behind. That's the kind of thing we should be talking about.
What we need from government is support, including resources. But first we have to stop and listen. You have to listen to people who are involved and know what they're doing and spend their lives, like Ronnie Jones and Ted Squire and Kenny Lewenza and a lot of people in the back of this room here today, who have spent their lives building this province. This province is one of the most prosperous jurisdictions on the continent, and a lot of it happened before the people in this room or on this committee were elected. Give other people a little bit of credit for what has taken place here, and listen.
Mr Lessard: Thank you very much for your presentation, Mr Hargrove. I agree with what you had to say. I think this bill is a framework for lower standards, lower wages, less funding and higher fees for apprentices. It's going in absolutely the wrong direction and it's going to lead to the fragmentation of skills for skilled trades workers.
I want to ask you what you think the impact of that may be on transferability or portability of skills when you talk about this exchange program with Germany. If we dismantle the system we have now, do you think that workers from Windsor, for example, would be able to go to Germany and have their skills recognized?
Mr Hargrove: No. What we would be talking about then is that they would be going to Germany to learn, but that won't happen. What will happen is what has happened historically and what we've fought for 25 years to change. We're starting to make some inroads with the corporations; this bill undermines that. Every time we have a problem, we will then use immigration to bring people in. When we have mass unemployment among young people, we will then reach out and bring in people from offshore.
With the level of unemployment we have and with the level of education we have among young people, for employers who aren't doing the training to say there are no skills around, given today's environment, there should be a penalty on every employer who isn't doing the training.
We have proposed many times that we have a grant-levy system much like the European countries that are successful in this area do. That is, you put money into corporations like Chrysler or others that are training apprentices, that are reaching into the school system and working with the academics in training people, and those who aren't, who just want to pirate from them or bring people in from offshore, should pay a penalty. That's how you deal with this issue.
The problem, Buzz -- I want to ask you this question as sincerely as I can ask it, and I hope you'll answer it the same way. You made a comment about this being the greatest place in the world, and I agree with you. But on every single piece of legislation that this government has introduced since it got elected, you and your people have come forward and said exactly the same thing about it, and that is, "Withdraw the bill."
Now you're here again, and you might have a point today, but I'm having a little trouble believing, because you've been telling us the sky has been falling since we first got elected. Mr Hargrove, the sky has not fallen. The province, quite frankly, is doing quite well.
I have talked to employers. Again, I talked to some top people with Chrysler this morning. They are not where you're at on this bill. I've talked to almost every leading industry spokesperson that we deal with -- outside of the chamber of commence and others who represent I don't know who, but they certainly don't produce anything in the province -- and they are not on side on this bill.
On the other bills, on the labour bill, when you were attacking us, the business community jumped in bed with you, and I expected that. When you're attacking poor people and the underprivileged, they jump in bed with you. But here they are joining us and saying: "Hold on here. What are you doing?" If you don't listen to me, surely you should listen to those people who are joining with us on this issue.
Mr Duncan: Mr Hargrove, we talked earlier today. I put a question, and perhaps one of your colleagues from the skilled trades section can address it. That deals with the competitiveness of our plants in Ontario and in Canada in general. You again referred to it that we are more productive, by and large, than others. We referenced a J.D. Power study that came out recently. In your view, will this bill undermine that competitiveness vis-à-vis not only European partners that you have now but also our competitors, and are there things that we should be looking at to improve the competitiveness? What are those issues that we ought to address?
Mr Hargrove: Let me just put it in perspective if I can, and then some of the committee may want to add to it. Every major model launch -- I could use this whether it's the auto industry or the aerospace industry. If you see a plane outside that's representative of Bombardier and the confidence they have in our workforce in Downsview, Ontario -- they launched the Global Express, which is "the" executive jet. This morning's paper reported it just received regulatory approval in the United States. They have already sold 80 of them before they even approved it, and they called on the Canadian workforce in Ontario to assemble it. That is the most complex part of building the plane.
Yesterday I was in CAMI with the president of General Motors, the president of CAMI Canada, the president of Suzuki, as we launched another new model in this facility that Suzuki says their future depends on.
In Windsor here, Chrysler, as it looks to the future for its minivan, the main minivan is built in this plant here. For General Motors' lead plant on their new truck they selected Oshawa over five other locations in North America. Every time there's a mandate for a new product, if they want to ensure it gets out there and out there properly, with good quality, good productivity, they put in the Canadian operations.
If you understood the complexity -- I'd invite the committee members. I can arrange within an hour a tour of the Chrysler, General Motors or Ford facilities in the city of Windsor or anywhere in the province. Go in and look at them and look at the role the skilled trades workers are playing.
When you train an electrician today, it's about electronics. It's a very broad and in-depth thing that's changing almost daily. So first you need a good academic base, and this undermines even that, but you also need a lot of theory, a lot of practice. That's why we have designed this school-to-work, work-to-school program, which we think a lot of companies are going to buy into. If you undermine that, you don't harm what we have in our plants today, but when you start looking at future models and future key launches, the same industries making those decisions and putting them in Canada today have other choices around the world, and that's where they will end up.
Mr Hargrove: Absolutely. It will cost us major mandates for a very important part of manufacturing for this province for the future. There's nothing political about this. This really is about the reality and the strengths of our province. If you take the auto industry out of this province throughout the 1990s when we were in a major recession, this province would have been in a depression; this country would have been in a depression. When the industry in the US was laying off thousands, in Canada our plants were all working. Why? Basically because we have the skills to do what others on the continent can't do.
The Chair: Mr Duncan, yes, I appreciate your comment, but Mr Smith is a member of this committee, and hopefully within the sound of my voice there are other government members. Nonetheless, they have a responsibility to be here, and we could proceed. Thank you. Out of respect for the presenter --
The Chair: We will resume. Now that some of the committee members have joined us, with respect, the presentation here is the Carpenters' District Council of Ontario. If you could introduce yourself again for members of the committee, I'd appreciate it.
Mr Calligan: My name is Bud Calligan. I'm the secretary-treasurer of the Carpenters' District Council of Ontario. I'd like to thank you for the opportunity to make my presentation today. Sitting next to me is Jim Caron, the business manager of the carpenters' local here in Windsor.
The Carpenters' District Council of Ontario represents over 14,000 skilled general carpenters, drywall, acoustic and lathing applicators, floor covering installers, piledrivers, and over 1,000 construction apprentices. I am a carpenter by trade, having served my apprenticeship in Ontario and obtaining my certificate of apprenticeship with the interprovincial standards, red seal in 1973. I have worked my way up through the trade, working in the positions of carpenter, foreman, assistant superintendent, and finally project superintendent, obtaining my certified construction superintendent certificate from the Ontario General Contractors Association.
As a certified construction superintendent, I know the value of a good, well-rounded apprenticeship training system and its importance to the construction industry. I know the value of a good apprenticeship system to the apprentices. An apprentice who receives the proper and complete training in an apprenticeship program can move up the ladder to a higher, more profitable career such as foreman, superintendent, project manager or estimator. Without a proper, well-rounded and complete trade apprenticeship, those doors will be closed to most apprentices.
Ontario currently has one of the best apprenticeship training systems in the world. The high quality of our skilled tradespeople is recognized around the world. If Ontario and Canada are to remain competitive in our global economy, we must not compromise the quality of our apprenticeship system; we must continue to improve it. Bill 55 will not improve the quality of Ontario's apprenticeship system. It will seriously compromise it.
If we are to encourage our youth to consider apprenticeship as a viable career option, we should be raising the standards for entering apprenticeship, not lowering them. We should be raising the professional recognition for completing an apprenticeship by having more compulsory trades recognized, not introducing skill sets that will lead to specialized skills, no trade certification, lower pay and fewer long-term job prospects. We should be encouraging national standards and curriculums, the red seal program, and portability of trades from province to province, not heading in the opposite direction.
We have a moral obligation to the young people of Ontario not to dismantle a proven system that has served us well for decades. We have a moral obligation to the young people of Ontario not to mislead them by encouraging them to enter an apprenticeship system with promises of high pay and rewarding careers when in fact we intend to flood the marketplace with apprentices by doubling their numbers and deregulate the trades by introducing skill sets. These things will lead to low pay, low- or single-skill jobs, few completions of a full trade apprenticeship, high dropout rates, high unemployment and dead-end jobs. These are some of the things that will happen if Bill 55 is passed in its present form.
The provincial advisory committees, including the carpenters' PAC, in the past were responsible for keeping curriculum and standards up to date and recommending changes to trade-specific regulations. For the most part, the carpenters' PAC has fulfilled its mandate by keeping the carpenters' curriculum and standards up to date. However, almost all of the recommendations from the PAC with regard to trade-specific regulations and improvements for the trade in general have been ignored. The provincial advisory chairs and co-chairs have been meeting with the ministry for over two years regarding changes to the apprenticeship act. The PACs are supposed to be the industry bodies that advise the government on apprenticeship, yet none of their recommendations have been put into the new act.
The construction industry has some unique characteristics and differs from other sectors served by the apprenticeship system. We are a major employer of apprentices, and our well-being depends on having a good apprenticeship system. We were told our concerns would be addressed, yet they have not been.
We have a new act that is very vague and open to interpretation. We have been told that many of our concerns would be addressed in the regulations, yet we have had almost no input into the regulations, have not seen a draft copy, and now have found out that there will not be any trade-specific regulations, only policy. We have grown very distrustful of the whole apprenticeship reform process.
(1) The purpose clause: Bill 55 is a major change in the philosophy of apprenticeship training in Ontario. First, it changes the orientation from training in a complete trade or occupation to learning skill sets. Second, it puts an emphasis on economics over other important issues. We don't think this is good for Ontario from a public policy perspective.
The results of apprenticeship training are not solely economic, and the driving force for change to the system cannot only be economic. There are other important criteria and benefits from an effective apprenticeship system. First and foremost, the act must be oriented on quality of training. Second, if we accept that there are economic benefits of apprenticeship training, we should also accept and include in the purpose clause the benefits of worker safety, consumer protection and environmental safety. Without the inclusion of these essential elements, one would question the intent of Bill 55.
(2) Provincial advisory committees: One of the key points made in the initial consultation paper on apprenticeship reform was the recognition that a one-size-doesn't-fit-all philosophy would guide the Ministry of Education and Training's approach on this issue. Bill 55 fails to recognize the differences that exist not only between trades, but also between sectors. Since the beginning of the apprenticeship reform process, the construction industry has been asking for more control over decision-making and policy-setting on matters that affect our sector. Bill 55 does the exact opposite of what the construction industry asked for.
Prime examples of this can be found in sections 3 and 4 of Bill 55. Many of the functions of the director of apprenticeship should be the responsibility of the provincial advisory committees from the former act or industry committees in Bill 55. As the experts in a trade, the PAC should set the curriculum, training standards and examinations, for example. They should also set the criteria for determining eligibility for training delivery agent status. Further, the PAC must have a more direct influence on determining whether a trade should become compulsory, and over ratios and wage rates.
It has been disappointing for the past number of years that many provincial advisory committees have been dormant, the result of government interference. This certainly brings into question the government's commitment to PACs when they are not mandated by legislation.
A major criticism of the previous act was that PACs were only advisory in nature. This shortcoming has not been addressed in Bill 55. In fact, it appears that the new industry committees will have even less influence than their predecessors. One would not expect that a government that espouses less government involvement in our society would put forth legislation that centralizes control over apprenticeship and training matters into the hands of a single person, the director of apprenticeship, and takes it away from the experts in the field. The relationship between the provincial advisory committees and the minister must also be clarified and strengthened.
Section 4 of Bill 55 also requires further clarification. In addition to giving the provincial advisory committees enhanced powers, the construction industry has asked for consideration of sector councils that would advise on sector-wide issues. While there appears to be recognition of this in section 4, there is confusion regarding intent, where the bill states in subsection 4(l), "The minister may establish a committee for any occupation or group of occupations to perform the following functions." There is a clear need to differentiate between specific trade issues, PACs, and sector-wide issues, industry committees or sector councils. This is particularly true in the construction industry.
The apprenticeship system in construction should be further enhanced by the creation of a construction-sector advisory council. This could be particularly beneficial in assisting all levels of government in dealing with a number of issues. These would include enforcement; the establishment of new trades; linkages to secondary schools; funding allocations; human resources needs, including youth apprenticeships; and promotion of the red seal program and national and provincial standards and curriculums.
(3) Acquiring a trade versus learning skill sets. Clearly, the most disappointing aspect of Bill 55 is the move away from trade certification to skill set certification. In fact, the word "trade" only appears in the act once as part of the definition of an occupation. Experience in the construction sector demonstrates that those with the most limited skills base find the most difficulty in obtaining work. Bill 55 will lead to a flooding of the construction marketplace with apprentices who have limited job skills and limited job prospects. We will not be able to continue to be world leaders and meet the demands of the economy under such conditions.
Also related to this matter is the issue of compulsory designation of a trade versus restricted skill sets. Bill 55 requires a transparent and clear process for determining how a trade may become compulsory or restricted. Once a process has been established, it would then be up to the provincial advisory committee to determine if a particular trade met the criteria for compulsory or restricted designation.
There are important public policy reasons for regulating trades and in making them compulsory. The compulsory nature of trades represents the best interests of the training culture, and it is also extremely important in safeguarding the health and safety of workers and for consumer and environmental protection. In the construction sector, workers who are not properly trained in the safe and efficient operation of equipment and machinery, for example, pose a safety threat not only to themselves but to their co-workers and the general public. Bill 55 is also silent on the fate of the current compulsory certified trades.
Under Bill 55, anyone would be able to advertise themselves as an electrician, for example, and the consumer would be left vulnerable with respect to the kind of work being performed. It is important for a tradesperson to fully comprehend the entire trade in order to understand the consequences of any actions they may take. There is ample evidence that when governments take a "consumer beware" approach, there will be a risk posed to the public. Recently, we have seen this in dramatic fashion in the trucking industry, which forced the government to require compulsory training and certification with respect to maintenance.
Further, we fail to understand how breaking up the trades and their industry-developed and recognized standards in any way assists in labour mobility, not only within Ontario but nationally and internationally.
There are other problems associated with the introduction of skill sets to Ontario's construction industry. The construction industry in Ontario has evolved around the concept of trades. Our contractors bid for work on their area of expertise or trade. An electrical contractor bids on electrical work. The mechanical contractors, bricklayer contractors and elevator contractors bid for work in their particular areas of expertise. Similarly, bargaining in the construction industry is done on a trade-by-trade basis. The potential for a major destabilizing effect on construction is very real under Bill 55.
Conclusion: The construction industry in Ontario has thrived under the current Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act. It has been recognized as a world leader in apprenticeship and skills training and for meeting the demands of Ontario's economy. We cannot afford to jeopardize this outstanding record of achievement without being prepared to suffer the consequences.
As a labour market partner who has helped develop Ontario's skilled construction workforce, we have been greatly offended that more input from the construction industry was not accepted by the government on how to make our apprenticeship system better. A great deal of time, effort and expense was invested to convey to the government how to use the successful construction apprenticeship system as a model for others to emulate. If Ontario's construction industry is to continue to meet the demands of our economy, we must have the tools to do so. Apprenticeship is the lifeblood of the construction industry; we should be enhancing it, not dismantling it.
With regard to recommendations, the Carpenters' District Council of Ontario recommends that Bill 55 not proceed, as there are too many questions about how the legislation will negatively impact on the construction sector. The current legislation has served the construction industry well. The Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act is generally a very sound piece of legislation. It could use some minor refinements, but this should only be done with proper consultation with the construction industry. Should the government not accept this advice, Bill 55 should not proceed to third reading without the completion of the regulations. As Bill 55 is heavily dependent on regulations, the construction industry must be satisfied that the shortcomings in Bill 55 can be adequately addressed in regulation. We suggest a concurrent process of developing the regulations along with amendments to Bill 55 to ensure that both meet the needs of Ontario's construction industry.
Mrs Pupatello: Thank you for your presentation today. I'd like to direct my questions, if you don't mind, to the parliamentary assistant and ask him specifically to address the issue of current compulsory certified trades. What happens to that certificate?
The second question is on behalf of the students who were in the room today, some of whom may still be here, who asked specifically what happens to those who are currently in an apprenticeship program. Will they as well be affected or is it something that would be grandfathered?
Mr Duncan: This is to the parliamentary assistant as well. One of the recommendations that has come forward is that you simply not call this bill for third reading; that is, let it die on the order paper. In light of the fact that we can't seem to identify anybody who supports the bill, would the government be prepared to, if not withdraw the bill, let this die on the order paper without third reading?
Mr Smith: As Mr Duncan knows, this committee is running under the direction of the Legislature and a motion that has been put forward. We have four days of public hearings to go through. We're hearing some very strong input in terms of the bill that's before us. I suggest that we should allow that process to continue, and continue the dialogue that has been going on for some two years now. There have been some very specific issues raised over the course of the past two days that I can assure you are being conveyed to the Minister of Education and Training.
Mr Lessard: We've certainly heard a great deal of criticism about Bill 55 so far, and we're not even through the second day. I don't suppose it's going to be much different in Sudbury tomorrow or Ottawa the day after that. It has yet to be seen how the government is going to deal with the recommendations that have been made by a great number of people.
One of the things the government likes to use as a means for promoting this bill is to say that the current system isn't working because we have shortages of skilled tradespeople in various sectors. I don't know if that's the case as far as carpenters are concerned, but they're saying we need to basically throw out the old system because the old system wasn't accommodating the needs of employers or young people as apprentices. I'd like to know what your response is to that.
Mr Calligan: There may be shortages in some sectors. For example, I understand there's supposedly a shortage in tool and die. There is no shortage in construction. There is a long waiting list in most local unions for apprentices. For example, my home local union of Hamilton has probably 200 applicants waiting to take an apprenticeship. This year has been fairly busy in construction in southern Ontario. This year they will have taken in over 15 new apprentices in one local union alone.
In reality, in the construction industry we can't simply open the door and say, "We're going to double the number of apprentices." First we have to double the number of jobs. There are locations in this province, northern Ontario, many of the areas up there, that are still facing 50% unemployment. Southern Ontario is very good right now, and the number of new apprentices that are taken into the construction industry will be reflected in it this year.
The number of apprentices coming into the trade must be regulated by the industry, not simply by saying that we're going to double the number of apprentices, when there are no meaningful jobs for them.
Mr Smith: Just quickly if I may, Mr Chair. The issue of letters of permission, which is captured I believe in section 9 of the bill, certainly has been an area of contention, which you addressed in your presentation in terms of the provisional approach that has been taking place in the past. I've been advised that the new language contained in Bill 55 actually strengthens that. Is that your opinion as well or do you find yourself --
Mr Calligan: The problem is that there's no enforcement in Bill 55. There has to be some method of ensuring that there is compliance with it, that somebody doesn't simply ask for a letter of permission when there are no grounds for it. As I said, it's normally reserved for when someone comes in and is awaiting recognition of their trade papers from another country.
The Chair: At this time the committee would call CAW local 1973. Thank you very much for joining us this afternoon. If you could, for the members of the committee and for the Hansard record, introduce those present at the table.
Mr Bert Desjardins: To my right I have Nick Dzudz, president of CAW local 1973. He's an excellent supporter of the skilled trades within our local. On my far left I have Greg Myers, a skilled trades representative at the Peregrine plant. He's been in the skilled trades program at General Motors for 19 years and he was trained in General Motors through an apprenticeship program. To my direct left I have Mark Desjardins, a skilled trades representative at local 1973, the GM transmission unit. He's also the skilled trades master chairperson for General Motors of Canada. He negotiates for all GM skilled trades in Canada, and that includes 2,000 skilled tradespeople in Oshawa, 1,500 in St Catharines, the GM plant in London, 500 here in Windsor, and the skilled tradespeople in Ste Thérèse.
Before we get too far into the brief, I'd like to thank the opposition parties for pressing the government to hold hearings in Windsor. I find it unbelievable that the government wouldn't come to Windsor, because -- and I've been hearing a lot of comments on tool and die makers -- the last numbers I read were that Windsor and Essex county area contains 18% of all the tool and die makers in Canada. Although it's claimed there are shortages of tool and die makers in the Windsor and Essex county area, we've got 18%. That's a significant number in Canada.
I've heard comments that tool and die maker apprentices are hard to come by. I'll tell you something: I haven't seen one ad in the Windsor Star for a tool and die maker apprentice. I would challenge anybody who says there are no apprentices who want to take a tool and die apprenticeship in Windsor and Essex county to put an ad in the Windsor Star. I will say to you right now that you will have as many applicants as you can handle paperwise. It wouldn't surprise me if you had 5,000 to 10,000 applicants on the list before you run out.
Now I'll start my brief. This brief is being presented on behalf of the members of CAW local 1973, which is comprised of nearly 2,000 retirees, 2,200 production workers and more than 500 CAW journeymen and journeywomen. Our members either were or are employed in the city of Windsor by General Motors or Peregrine. The first thing I want to do today is thank the committee for allowing me the opportunity to make this presentation on Bill 55, An Act to revise the Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act.
The history of skilled trades at the Windsor GM plants: The Windsor GM plant was first built in 1919 as Canadian Products Ltd, a division of General Motors. From its beginnings, management at the plant recognized that some jobs required skill training. When the union was first organized at the Windsor plant in 1937, addenda to the contract were recognizing the assets of the skilled trades by means of higher wage rates and separate classifications. The UAW skilled trades program was negotiated into the GM-UAW master agreement in 1953 and has been built on and improved up to this present day.
CAW standards: Our standards are quite clear and are contained in our contract language. To be hired into the GM Canada plants as a journeyman or journeywoman, applicants must prove (a) that they have worked for a minimum of eight years at the trade that they are applying for; or (b) that they have completed a four-year apprenticeship comparable to GM-CAW standards. These standards have been refined for over 60 years at our workplace and have withstood the test of time.
At various times when we had large amounts of hiring or whatever, management tried to sneak people in or was successful in bringing people in without meeting the requirement of eight years at the trade or the four-year apprenticeship comparable to GM-CAW standards. We told them not to bring them in but they brought them in, and then months later they were crying to us, "What are we going to do?" You know what we told them? "You're going to live with them now." We don't have those problems any more. They go by our standards.
Apprenticeships as the foundation for success: At the present time the Windsor GM transmission plant is the most technologically advanced transmission plant in the world, having completed a major changeover in 1998 that started in 1993. Most, if not all, of the new machinery is controlled by computers; they're CNC-controlled. Although the workforce is aging and all skilled tradespeople had worked in the plant a minimum of 10 years, the experienced workforce was able to complete most of the changeover work without any outside help, except when time constraints were an issue. Much of the reason that our skilled tradespeople were able to adapt and propel this plant to the cutting edge of computer industrialisation can be traced back to their having the adaptable skills gained through their apprenticeships when computer controls were non-existent.
Journeymen and journeywomen and new technology: The Big Three auto plants of today are so technologically advanced that whenever new tradespersons are hired, they will go through a learning curve. This is because the jobs of the trades today are so complex that even moving within the plant to different areas usually requires learning different technology. With properly trained journeymen and journeywomen, the time to adapt to the new work requirements is minimal with respect to most jobs because the tradesperson already has a clear understanding of the basics, and troubleshooting experience.
Attack on mobility and employability: Properly trained apprentice graduates can confidently move to new jobs, knowing that having served bona fide apprenticeships, their skill will be recognized and accepted. If Bill 55 is enacted, people who attain the proposed skill sets and then find the doors to many of the desirable jobs they covet closed because their training isn't encompassing enough will blame the government, the school system, employers and possibly even unions.
CAW has negotiated preferential hiring rights within General Motors. What this means is that production workers laid off from General Motors in St Catharines or Woodstock or Ste Thérèse or London or Oshawa has the right to be hired before a new production worker is hired at the Windsor GM plant, or vice versa, by seniority. GM skilled tradespeople are also covered by the preferential hire language, but only within their own trade. A laid-off tool and die maker has the right to be hired before a new tool and die maker can be hired, a laid-off electrician has the right to be hired before a new electrician, a steamfitter to his trade etc. The deskilling of skilled trades through skill sets rather than bona fide, well-rounded apprenticeships may negatively impact our union's ability to protect these rights of our members.
Most of our tradespeople at some point or another are offered a chance to move from their trade to a supervisory or engineering job. The reason our tradespeople are offered these promotions is because management recognizes the expertise and problem-solving skills a well-trained journeyperson has to offer. By promoting limited training programs through skill sets, this government will limit people's opportunity to advance to these positions and they will also be contributing to shrinking the pool of potentially effective future engineers and supervisors.
In our plants right now you do not necessarily need to be an engineer to be a process engineer or whatever. A lot of our tool and die makers have moved up to be what's called a process engineer and some of our millwrights did move up to be industrial engineers. Actually, a guy who has worked on the floor for a long period of time more often than not has a superior ability. He can recognize. He has performed these jobs; he has seen how it's done; he can handle that.
Negative impacts on business: We in the labour movement find it ironic that the Big Three are continually trying to expand the duties of some skilled tradespeople by trying to circumvent agreed-to lines of demarcation, thereby eliminating other trades, while this skill sets proposal could have the opposite effect by creating more classifications, complexities and inefficiency. Although we're confident the Big Three have the ability to compete successfully in the global market, we see no reason why this government of the day should introduce legislation that will dry up this pool of future tradespeople that the corporations can draw from.
Why this direction? I will say that I ask myself this question. I know these apprenticeships have been around for a lot of years, that they haven't been changed or altered, but I can't see why you're going in such a direction as this. This is the only conclusion I could come to. On apprenticeships I believe, as Brother Hargrove said earlier, that there should be a grant levy system. There have been attempts in the past. I've followed this for a lot of years -- I forgot to introduce myself. I've been in the skilled trades program for 26 years with General Motors and I went through the apprenticeship at General Motors. Although I did start two apprenticeships on the outside, it took General Motors to finally finish the job for me.
On apprenticeships, at different times the government has paid for the first year or the second year and then stopped the funding in the third and fourth years, and then a lot of companies have stopped training. Actually, they've dropped that person in the third and fourth years. But the most effective thing seemed to be when the governments were paying for a portion of the training. I guarantee that would put the apprentices back in the system, if business is saying they need more apprentices. The only thing I would caution on that is I don't believe you should be just paying the companies for the first and second years; I think it should be an equal amount right to the end, and if they don't graduate or they don't try to complete apprenticeships right to the end, maybe they should be paying back for the first and second years.
I'll go back to the brief now. Since neither the Big Three, which directly employ 50,000 workers and indirectly supply 250,000 jobs, nor the CAW, which represents over 200,000 members and which is opposed to this legislation, is steering the government in the direction of skill sets and away from bona fide apprenticeships, it can be assumed that it is either small employers or government mandarins who have steered the government on their present course. The advantage to small business in promoting skill sets is that by limiting the training of their employees to only a small portion of the skills that are required to be a journeyperson, the employee will find it more difficult to move on to a better-paying job where fully trained skilled trades are required. Thus the employer won't face the threat of losing as many employees. Because the employee's skills are not as broad or transferable, eventually downward pressure will be brought to bear on the wages and benefits of these trapped employees.
Conclusion: Failure of the government to consult either big industry or labour prior to writing Bill 55 smacks of arrogance. Speaking on behalf of local 1973, we don't see Bill 55 as a positive step, and therefore we urge this committee to recommend that this bill be killed and that the government recommit to apprenticeships, with the goal of resurrecting the previous federal and provincial apprenticeship funding and schooling commitments and promoting bona fide apprenticeships which will be universally recognized by employers and unions everywhere.
Mr Lessard: Thank you very much, Bert. I think you're bang on in your speculation that this is an attempt to drive down wages and will lead to a lot of people ending up in marginal employment situations after having been convinced that somehow they're going to be involved in apprenticeship training. One of the reasons that the government says they're doing this is to deal with the crisis in youth unemployment and that if you deregulate labour markets, the companies are going to provide training and create jobs. I wonder if you think that is going to happen, based on your experience.
Mr Mark Desjardins: What's happening is that in our plants in General Motors Corp, the technology is so great right now that it's ongoing training all the time. There's no way, if you start getting to single skill sets, that we can bring these people into the plant, because they'll be so far behind it will make us uncompetitive in the markets we have to work in nowadays. We'll never be able to bring these people in. We'd just have to get them trained too much to be up to the standards. I don't see how we could do it; I really don't.
Mr Bert Desjardins: I would like to add one thing. I don't care who you bring into the plants right now, specifically in the electrician trade, they are not going to be qualified enough. We are going to have to train them. That's how technologically advanced the plant is. It's not like the basic electrician trade used to be.
We have construction in our plant and we have maintenance. The electrician who comes in from the outside can be a construction guy, because the construction is similar, but now the machines are all computer-controlled. It's not some of them; I don't know that there are any production machines in that plant that are not controlled by computer. Computers, just like the logic that's going on inside that box that you don't know, and it's doing it all for you -- the thing is, when the machine goes wrong, you have to start looking at what's actually going on in that box. It's PLC, programmable logic control. You have to think logically. You might think we all think logically, but you have to start thinking like a computer to do this stuff, and we have to train everyone who comes in that plant. That's the way it is.
Mr Carroll: Mr Desjardins, you made reference at the beginning that you defy anybody to find an ad in the paper asking for a tool and die apprentice, yet if there was one you figure maybe 5,000 or 10,000 people would apply to it. Yet there are many ads in the paper asking for journeymen tool and die makers. We heard about pages and pages of them. If we have a need for journeymen tool and die makers and we have all these young people who you say would love the opportunity to jump into a tool and die apprenticeship, then what's happening? Why is it not happening that those companies that need those journeymen, and the only way they can get journeymen is to train them through an apprenticeship program -- why do we have this seeming gap there between the need to have journeymen, the number of young people who want to be tradespeople, but nobody wants to train them? Is the current apprenticeship program really working when we have that gap?
Mr Bert Desjardins: The apprenticeship program is working but what happens is you need to train even more apprentices. You heard this morning about how these businesses are constantly expanding in Windsor. I'll tell you, if we were like most cities -- probably they only have, I don't know, 20 or 30 tool and die shops -- we'd have such an excess of journeymen it's unbelievable. But because we have probably over 200 of what they call jobbing shops -- they call a tool and die shop that builds the details or dies or whatever a jobbing shop. Because we have such a large portion of tool and die shops in the Windsor and Essex county area, there is a large demand for journeymen.
What happens is, as the people in these jobbing shops get older, they move on from the trade sometimes. They'll move into engineering or whatever or they'll move into supervisory jobs. What does happen a lot is they'll move into our plants, into the Big Three plants, and they won't necessarily always move into the skilled trades. They'll even move into the production, and I'll tell you why that happens. They tell you about these great wages they pay out there, but they're not always so great. If they make just as much in the Big Three on production and their benefits are greater and their holidays are greater, where do you think they're going to? This is a lot of it. If those places pay them a good rate of pay and they treat their employees well, they will do a better job of keeping their people.
Mrs Pupatello: Thank you very much for your presentation. I enjoyed that. Some of the things you were asking, like, "Why this direction?" is a question that was probably the most common today, because everyone is asking, from the business entrepreneur to individuals who work for them. We don't know who is supporting the bill. One that we thought might, based on an earlier submission, didn't show up, so it's quite interesting. We don't know who is supporting the bill either because there seems to be so much wrong with it.
Why this direction? This afternoon I was told of a company that has applied for status as a delivery agent through the Ministry of Education and Training to deliver workfare. The connection in the proposal is that this contractor is now the delivery agent that accesses funding to bring on workfare as placements and is now the agent that apparently would be the sponsor for workfare recipients. So the pieces are starting to fit together for me.
We've always suspected that, when we noticed the change in the language between "employer" and "sponsor," but it's quite clear that there is actually an agency that has now been given status -- very quickly run through the Ministry of Education and Training, I might add. It usually takes a long time to get that designation as a delivery agent. This one happened very quickly and is now taking people from workfare, and it is exclusively for that group. There are issues now that are in question about the individuals who are enrolled as apprentices. So under the guise of doing whatever it is they're doing, they're actually taking government money essentially, restricting it to welfare recipients who are now in this workfare program, to come out with this designation as an apprentice.
Mrs Pupatello: I guess we have to plot too to put the pieces together as to why this is going forward. I'm suspecting that may well be another piece of the puzzle, that it's another way to make a failed program like workfare add up the numbers or something. I don't know if you've thought of that as a potential.
Mr Bert Desjardins: No, I didn't. I don't know that workfare does enter into this. I believe small employers are upset because they lose their employees to large corporations. They believe we poach their skilled tradespeople, but I don't have sympathy for those people. In fact my feelings are, you pay them a decent rate of pay and you give them decent benefits and they won't leave.
The other thing is, there is an employer in this city and his father works with us -- he's a tradesman and his son is a tradesman -- and he doesn't pay his electrical apprentices much of anything. He pays them a very low rate of pay and he works their butts off. He will say quite simply, "I'm going to work the devil out of those kids and they're not going to get paid that well, but when they're done, they're going to have a trade." Some of these employers want to work the devil out of a kid and give him no pay, but then when he's all done, they still want to work the devil out of him and still not give him any pay.
The Chair: At this point we'll call the Amalgamated CAW local 195. Good afternoon, sir. If you could introduce yourself for members of the committee and also for the Hansard record, you have 20 minutes to use as you see fit.
Mr Mike Renaud: My name is Mike Renaud and I'm the president of CAW local 195. With me today is Nick LaPosta, the financial secretary of our local. I want to say thank you to this committee for the opportunity.
I'll just give you briefly some of our background. We are the largest amalgamated local union in the country. We represent about 70 different workplaces and over 5,000 members. We represent workplaces as small as six and as large as 600. We have tool and die shops, we have grocery stores, we represent security guards, we represent hotels, but the largest part of our membership has been and remains auto parts. As you can well understand, with that diversification, we represent a number of tradespeople, some where the entire shop is licensed tradesmen, like in the case of the tool and die shops, and other shops where we have skilled trade departments where we'll have electricians or millwrights or what have you. We also have auto mechanics. We represent some dealerships.
Having said all that, as you can imagine with that kind of diversification, in the late 1980s and early 1990s as we went through a recession, our local union was hit hard because of the number of workplaces that we represented. We did an awful lot of work there with regard to getting out people back into the workplace and an awful of work with community partners with regard to retraining and re-employment.
I say all of that because throughout all of those difficult periods for us there were some people who survived and stayed employed and were able, in the case of where their workplace closed, to find employment again quickly and really needed very little help, and those were the tradespeople. In this area in particular, tool and die makers, electricians, mouldmakers to some extent, of which we have much less experience, those trades in particular and then others to different degrees, millwrights, remained employable. In fact throughout that period and to this day, we will very often get calls asking for us to refer licensed tradespeople.
If you can imagine in today's economy, where we do get a tool and die person who has left one place of employment and come to see us, we have been able, I would say 90% of the time, to place that person within a matter of days. It's a matter of making a couple of phone calls and employers are eager to get those people.
I'm asking you all to consider that in today's economy, where we have something that's working to the point where someone, because of their trade and their skill levels and their background and experience, has that type of mobility and, in a rough sense, I would say earnings in the range of $50,000 to $100,000 a year, on average.
It was touched on before through the guys from the GM chain. It's hard to fathom the skill levels and the technology that's needed today to stay competitive and the speed with which those things change in the workplace and the constant upgrading that's involved. I can't say enough about the skill levels of the tradespeople in our workplaces, the skill level and the adaptability that they have currently. These are all people who were brought up under the current system, and I think that is so very important to our economy.
Finally, a few comments before Nick gets into our brief. We have the opportunity very often to speak to young people. We go to schools. As you can imagine, probably more than ever young people want to know what type of profession to get into where they'll be able to make a living and, as they grow up, take care of their families. We have been able, to date -- one of the things that strikes me that I am concerned that this legislation might change -- we have been rock-steady, steadfast, able to say to young people, "If you have an inclination" -- and this is based on very real, personal experience -- "if you get into those trades that I've mentioned, tool and die, electrician, mouldmaking, in this area, you'll be employable. You'll be able to earn a good living and take care of your family."
I think that's of paramount importance. We can't say that about too many jobs any more, especially the way things change so rapidly. We can advise, I suppose, to different degrees when we're advising young people on a career course -- I feel very good about that personally, that we've been able to give kids some concrete advice as they're reaching out, but that's harder and harder. Again, to bring it home, I'd say to you that if my son was of age today to go to work and suggested to me that he was interested in those trades, I would not discourage him whatsoever; in fact, I would encourage him. In Nick's case, his son is of that age and is now a licensed electrician and is working and will be able to make a good living and take care of his family.
We have something that is working in our economy, working very well, has been steady, and we can't say that about a lot of things, so I would implore this committee that we should not be changing that. If there are some ways we can improve it -- but the bill as we sees it goes in the opposite direction, and it's so important to young people today that we can give them some direction.
To answer some of the questions that have come up consistently about what we say to young people, I think we do have a problem but we need to look at the education system because my experience today is still to this date -- again it varies with age but probably in large part as we went through school we were told we could be a doctor or a lawyer, that those were good professions to get into, and my experience is that that message is still being conveyed to young people in school.
We're not doing a good enough job in encouraging young people, not just encouraging them but actually setting up an education system that would provide for that, saying that for students who choose that career path it's a good career path, that they'll be successful. I think we can do some work in the education system which would help both the young people and the employers who are looking for those trades.
First, the education system has let this area down. You heard earlier in a presentation that the Windsor and Essex county area represents 18% of the tool and die trade in all of Canada. It's located here in this area. I would carry it one step farther: My old alma mater, W.D. Lowe technical, actually probably produced 75% of the owners of those 18% of the tool and die tradespeople in this area. They're in as much dismay as I am over the decision locally, because the downloading effects of the current government in the area of education have actually closed that school. I understand that there's some last ray of hope to try to keep it open, but W.D. Lowe technical is no longer the same technical school that it was a mere 10 years ago.
What's happened is the education system has failed the people in this area. What they've done is taken the technical training out of the secondary school level, such as W.D. Lowe, and there has been no guidance, no counselling for any of the students that are there now who would much rather work with not only their head but their hands to be satisfied in making a living. That is bad, and if there's anything that this committee takes away from the hearings here today, take a look at the education system as to how flawed it has created areas such as Windsor and Essex county to be, not today, but 10 years from today.
The other quick point is, yes, I'm fortunate enough to have a young man who has graduated with his certificate as an electrician, both his apprenticeship certificate and his provincial certificate. But an odd thing happened on the way to the forum while he was out there looking for work. He's currently unemployed. He has lines on jobs. He's working every day. That's because of his trade. But most of the places that he reports to are actually offering him less money now that he holds both certificates than he was making as first-year apprentice, second-year apprentice and so on. That's sad, but that's what's going on in the parts industry today. I want everyone to take note of that because I don't want your mindset solely to be in the Big Three world because we're not all there.
I believe it was you, Mr Carroll, who asked a question earlier of the previous delegation about the tool and die trade. I know from first-hand fact when we were suffering through the plant closure system at the end of the 1980s and early part of the 1990s in this area where tool and die tradesmen, journeymen -- third year, fourth year certificate tradesmen and actually tool and die tradesmen newly into the market working at that trade -- walked into a small parts supplier who were in need of a tool and die tradesman, asked for a tool and die tradesman to apply for a job and literally walked into their tool and die area and had to pack up their equipment because they had more sophisticated equipment in their own possession while they were learning their trade than the employer had in his whole tooling area and they were being offered work at half the cost. Those are real-life situations. That's what's going on out there, and that's what's flawed. Not everybody is a part of the Big Three.
We appreciate the opportunity to appear before this committee. However limited these hearings are, four days in four cities, we remain hopeful that not only will we get an opportunity to present our views but we will actually be heard. To date, that has not happened with Bill 55.
We are dealing with legislation that has been drafted ostensibly to increase the number of apprentices in Ontario and provide additional opportunities for youth at bargain basement prices. But it is our view that you don't increase the number of apprentices by reducing the quality of their training; you don't expand opportunities for young apprentices by reducing their wages; you don't regulate the acquisition of skill by deregulating apprenticeship; you don't deal with a federal government which has eliminated its support for apprenticeship by further downloading those costs on to individual apprentices; and you don't reform apprenticeship by taking the skill out of skilled trades. Yet we are dealing with legislation that will do precisely those things.
A tool and die apprenticeship is different today than it was in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. An electrician today is a good deal different than his or her predecessor of a generation ago. Change is the constant. Our workplaces are becoming technologically more complex. Individual pieces of equipment are becoming technically more sophisticated. New generations of hardware, software, equipment and tools are constantly putting new and additional demands on our apprentices and skilled trades. These are new computer controls, laser measuring and alignment equipment, vibration analysis equipment. There is generation after generation of PLCs and other new computer-mediated processes. There are developments such as stereolithography or rapid prototyping, unheard of just a handful of years ago. Yet over the years our skilled workforce and apprenticeship programs have successfully responded to these developments.
Bill 55 implies that our apprenticeship system has failed. But ask the question, are our skilled trades failing to meet the needs of modern production? Then look for the answer, not in government background papers but in our workplaces. The real question is why the government would trade off such a sure thing in exchange for the vague and ill-defined training programs envisioned by the new act.
Survey after survey concludes that one of our strengths in Ontario is the education and the skill of our workforce. The World Economic Forum recently ranked Canada in the enviable top tier of countries. It specifically made references to the education and skills of our workforce and to our strong technological base as reasons for our high ranking. The federal government, in its recent reports on the competitiveness of auto parts and the assembly sectors, points to our skilled trades workforce and the high productivity and quality in our plants. All of this speaks directly to the quality of our skilled trades, to the effectiveness of our apprenticeship program and to the skill of our workforce.
The changes proposed in the Apprenticeship and Certification Act threaten apprenticeship on a number of levels. One is through a substitution of terms and particular provisions in the act; another is through the deletion of safeguards in the act; and a third is by moving future changes into a less open and less transparent process of relying on regulations and the administrative decision of the director of apprenticeship.
In the first instance, the clearly understood and regulated notion of a trade is replaced with a vague and ill-defined notion of a skill set and occupation. Today we know what a tool and die maker is; we know what an electrician can do; we can describe the job of a millwright. We can show you the requirements of the trade, we can show you the training program, we know what happens in the at-school portion, what happens in the workplace. We are confident that the ratio of trades to apprentices is such that the apprentice will actually have a chance to learn at work. We can point to the supervision and the workplace committees. We can tell you what the wages will be and when increases will happen, and we can talk about the role of the union, the responsibility of the apprentice and the employment contract with the employer. Most of all, we can point to our certified skilled workers as outcomes of this process.
None of that would be the case if our trades developed under the proposed new legislation. Outside of the one page of definitions, the word "trade" doesn't reappear in the legislation at all. It has been replaced with the phrase "skill set." Similarly, you won't find any reference to employers or the employment relationship or contract between the employer and their apprentice. Instead of "employer," you get the ambiguous term "sponsor" and the phrase "registered training agreement." In fact, you rarely find the phrase "apprenticeship program," the drafters preferring instead phrases like "training agreement."
These omissions and these substitutions are simply wrong-headed. So too is the removal of safeguards and the requirements which are the foundation of the apprenticeship system. Safeguards and provisions which have developed over the years to protect individual apprentices, which provide a set of rules to advance the body of trade knowledge and which provide employees and consumers with high standards of certification and safety are now redefined as barriers and are removed from the legislation.
Bill 55 eliminates the ratios of journeypersons to apprentices, the time guarantees for apprenticeship programs, regulated wage minimums for apprentices. In addition, it encourages short-term, limited training programs, removes apprenticeship standards, puts at risk employee health and consumer safety by abandoning certified trades and shifts the costs of training to the individual apprentice.
What the government means by apprenticeship reform has a lot to do with cutting costs. The government talks about a shift to a more market-driven approach in which apprentices take a greater responsibility for their own training. This new funding model means a number of things.
Third, after squeezing the apprentice on both ends, it notes that it is optimistic that apprentices will be able to borrow money from the reformed UI, the new EI, legislation and go into debt for their apprenticeship.
We are opposed to shifting the burden of financing the apprenticeship system on to apprentices. So are others, as is indicated in the government's discussion paper of 1996: "Stakeholders generally agreed that the province must continue to ensure that the program is properly funded in an accountable manner."
When the government first released its discussion paper on apprenticeship reform, the Ontario Federation of Labour, in conjunction with its affiliates, developed a blueprint for a workable model for the legislative framework of the apprenticeship training system in Ontario. We will not reiterate that entire model for you here, as the ministry has already seen a copy of that submission. But in general, our blueprint proposed a new relationship between industry and government, with clearly defined roles and responsibilities of all bodies involved and with mechanisms to provide accountability to industry, to government and to apprentices.
In our model we envisioned greater industry responsibility and participation in the system. At present we have provincial advisory committees for the regulated trades only, and they are strictly advisory in nature. Although Bill 55 outlines more roles for the PACs than were contained in the old act, it leaves the establishment of these committees to the discretion of the minister. We believe that PACs need to be established for all trades and managed with more responsibility and authority.
The committees should have a role in providing and supplementing training as well as a role in administration. They should also provide input on training, intake and education requirements. Their role could include such areas of administration as scheduling in-school training, keeping up-to-date information on all apprentices within their jurisdiction, their start dates, their employers, their progress and their current status. Sector bodies and the LACs should be defined in the act as "employers" for the purpose of identifying apprentices. The reference to "sponsors" should be removed. It should be employers who contract with apprentices, not outside unrelated parties.
In our view, the government needs to retain a role in promotion, marketing, program enhancement and enforcement. It should retain responsibility for issuing licences, enforcing the regulations and handing out penalties. The enforcement mechanism needs to have more clout, and penalties need to be more strictly enforced. This kind of government role would ensure accountability.
In conclusion, Bill 55 was not done right the first time but it can be done right the next time. We urge the committee to recommend withdrawing the legislation and in its place establishing an apprenticeship review process that puts those directly involved around the table. In auto, in auto parts, in aerospace, in rail, in mining and in those other sectors in which we represent skilled trades workers and apprentices, we are not only prepared to do so but would welcome the opportunity to be a part of that.
The Chair: We now ask the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association to come forward. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I ask you to introduce yourselves to the members of the committee as well as for the Hansard record.
Mr Ken MacDonald: On my left is Mr Gerd Zech and on my right is Mr Joe Mammarella, both of the Windsor Integram feeding plant, a division of Magna. Behind me also in the audience is Mr Ralph Zarboni, who is a former chairman and presently a director of the APMA as well as a director of some other parts companies. I am Ken MacDonald, the secretary and director of policy development at the APMA. I'm very glad to have this opportunity to give our two cents' worth -- actually, we're going for three or four cents' worth. That's how important the issues are.
I'll start with a few words of background about our association. We represent Canadian manufacturers of materials, parts and equipment used in the manufacture of the cars and trucks we drive. Our members represent about 90% of the $26 billion in goods shipped in 1997. Those goods range from steel chassis to electronic componentry to robots. The industry employs about 92,000 Canadians and about 7,600 tradespeople, the majority of whom, of course, work in Ontario.
There are three reasons to embrace apprenticeship reform: (1) these careers are rewarding; (2) there's a serious and growing shortage of skilled tradespeople -- I see that some people have already presented their letters to you on previous occasions; and (3) Bill 55 will help.
On the first point, the parts industry has become one of the world's most technologically advanced industries and several industry trends have converged to make a highly skilled workforce an absolute necessity. Parts makers are taking an increasingly major role in more and more of the content of the cars and trucks we drive, at the same time that those parts are becoming more sophisticated.
A couple of examples are Dofasco and Stelco, who have developed an ultra-light steel auto body, which reduces the weight while maintaining rigidity; Magna has a number of projects on the go: advanced electronic latching systems that provide programmable logic for double lock, child lock and central lock features, and you've perhaps already heard of computerized brakes, on-board navigational systems and ceramic engine parts.
At the same time, manufacturing processes are also rapidly changing, an absolute imperative to maintain competitive levels of productivity. That therefore involves the use of robots, sensors and other equipment, the one common denominator being that they all require a workforce with an ever-rising level of knowledge and skill.
The last point is that when a new product is developed, an efficient manufacturing process must be developed alongside it. That requires testing on the plant floor, and thus the R and D process involves tradespeople as well.
Major trades in the industry -- they're set out there for you -- are tool and die makers, mouldmakers, industrial electricians, industrial mechanics or millwrights and general machinists. They're described there if you want to refer to that. These are well-paid positions. The association just released earlier this month a wage and salary survey of our membership and found that starting wages for tool and die makers and industrial electricians are around $19 to $20 an hour; mouldmakers are just a few cents back. That's the average. Moving from there, many tradespeople rise through the ranks to senior positions in these companies. As I said, this is a survey of about two thirds of the industry. We are very happy with the findings in terms of representativeness.
Despite this, there is -- and I can't emphasize this enough -- a growing shortage. That survey I just mentioned revealed three important facts: one in three companies is currently facing a shortage; three out of four are planning to increase their skilled trades staff between now and 2001; and owing to supply and demand, wages for many of these trades are up substantially from 1997. I have made available copies of that survey report for anyone who may be interested. I have limited copies with me; more are available back at the office.
What causes the shortage? Three important factors that I know of. A statistical analysis that we undertook earlier this year projects a major wave of retirements. Maybe as many as 34,000 people in the five trades it mentioned, taking into account all sectors of manufacturing in Ontario, could retire between now and 2007. If we think back to the auto pact and how much expansion took place in the 1960s and do the math, you can see why many retirements are to be expected.
The second point: A lot of students in high school and graduating from high school have not shown much interest in technical careers. We would say it's no coincidence that those same people have not even an inkling of what opportunities the trades can offer, much less an opportunity to actually see those trades in the workplace for themselves. That's what apprenticeship offers.
The third point the survey alluded to as being a factor was a lack of means to train. It must be emphasized that the impact of this shortage is far-reaching. The availability of skilled workers is a factor of the utmost importance, in fact ranked at the top of those factors considered in the selection of sites for manufacturing facilities. We have a study, again, on that subject. Copies are available if you'd like. The implications are clear.
The APMA itself has undertaken a number of initiatives to address the shortage, largely in the nature of initiatives to raise awareness of the opportunities. We have our Jobs for the Future video distributed to every high school, a career profiles booklet guide to describe the careers in more detail, day-long conferences for teachers, a CD-ROM guide in the making, another guide to careers. We have a full-time director of human resources development on staff now. Her responsibilities include overseeing those various initiatives plus going to career fairs and the like.
We applaud, in no uncertain terms, the general goal of Bill 55; namely, to increase the number of people obtaining training through apprenticeship. If the bill is passed, people who would not be able to pursue such training except on a part-time basis or on a contract basis will have a whole range of new career options opened to them.
The bill also helps ensure that the reality of apprenticeship is faithful to the ideal of workplace-based training. As I alluded to a few minutes ago, we are facing rapid change in the workplace, and industry must play a bigger role to ensure the relevance and value of workplace training.
The flexibility in terms of scheduling the in-class portion of the training is to be welcomed. It recognizes the role that small and medium-sized businesses have to play in creating jobs, the challenges they face in juggling the day-to-day pressures of production schedules, and their responsibilities, on the other hand, to apprentices.
In studying Bill 55, we looked at the apprenticeship law and infrastructure in Alberta, a system which has been remarkably successful. With only 9% of Canada's working-age population, they train 18% of the apprentices, over 28,000 people in 1998. I spoke to the Deputy Minister of Education and asked what he believes accounts for their success. He mentioned two factors, one of which was flexibility in respect of the in-class training portion.
We do have some concerns about the bill. Abolition of the minimum education requirements could result in fewer successful completions of apprenticeships or could undermine the value of certificates of apprenticeship and the red seal program. It is important for employers and apprentices alike that the certificates signify a consistent level of knowledge and ability. If grade 10 minimums are abolished, there ought to be at least an entry exam to ensure the apprentice possesses the core competencies to succeed in their program.
As well, we believe strongly that the bill or the regulations must stipulate standards for the delivery of that training. Bill 55 removes the minimum journeyman-apprentice ratio altogether but is silent about who supervises the apprentice or other standards. Standards are core to the success of the program. The quality of the training, by the way, was the second factor cited by the Alberta deputy minister. We urge the government to prescribe standards in the regulations.
Take a look at the Alberta legislation in that respect. Their regulations stipulate that for tasks that are part of a compulsory certification trade, which in Bill 55 is called a restricted trade, the supervisor must be a certified journeyman. Further, the trade-specific regulations under the Alberta law stipulate the number of apprentices a person may employ, and the employer, in applying that regulation, must take into account only those certified journeymen who could be available to supervise the apprentices. We ask you to take a close look at Alberta regulation 1/92.
In closing, we congratulate the Ontario government for taking the initiative to reform the system. Large numbers of well-trained tradespeople will be key to the continued prosperity of this industry and a big part of the economy. We just had those few points that we needed to draw your attention to. That completes our remarks.
Mr Smith: Thank you for your presentation. We've heard a lot about the issue of the removal of regulated wage rates. There's reference as well in your presentation to the tool and die sector. In fact, seven years ago the tool and die industry committee recommended that wages be removed from the regulation process. That has happened. Are you concerned that full removal of that will in fact drive down wages for skilled workers?
Mr MacDonald: There is, of course, a measure of protection in the Employment Standards Act for the same people we're talking about. It's not clear that there's going to be a detrimental effect due to the changes in Bill 55. If there is, the government can revisit that issue.
Mr Smith: You yourself have indicated from your own surveys that starting wages for tool and die makers are between $19 and $20 per hour. Is there any reason to suggest that the provisions of Bill 55 would alter that scenario as it exists today?
Mr Duncan: I was noting one of the documents, the Competitiveness of Canada's OE Parts Sector, which I believe you distributed. On page 32 of that, they indicate that the second-most-important variable in location decisions, location of new plants and investments, in Ontario is the availability of a skilled labour force.
In your presentation, you've indicated that you have concerns about the bill, particularly about the abolition of minimum education requirements. We've had repeated testimony today from business representatives, educators, labour leaders, skilled tradespeople and apprentices that this bill will in fact undermine our ability to provide a skilled and trained workforce, that we are in effect reducing minimum standards.
How do you reconcile your support for the bill and at the same time fundamentally say that you disagree with one of the key elements, recognizing that your own evidence suggests that education and the availability of a skilled labour force is the second-most-important variable in terms of decisions to invest and create jobs in this jurisdiction? Wouldn't you agree that if you are undermining our ability to train skilled workers, you're undermining our ability to attract investment and jobs?
Mr MacDonald: I have two points in response. One is that availability of skilled workforce is top-ranked. If you want to go into methodology, they had two ways of asking the question: first, "Please tell us what your major factors were," and second, a list of suggested factors they were asked to rank. If you average the two out, skilled workforce comes out on top, tied with another factor.
Mr Duncan: What we have heard today, and I'm having trouble reconciling this, is that what this bill will do is lower training standards, make our skilled trades less productive, less competitive. By the way, we haven't heard that from business types. We've heard that from union representatives, skilled tradespeople, as well as union leaders and others.
I guess the difficulty I'm having with the position you're taking is, you're saying on the one hand that the bill is good, that it's something we should have, that, "We like this bill." But in your document you say you have this concern about the abolition of minimum education requirements, and in your backup documents you are suggesting quite clearly that the skill level of our employees, of our workers, of our skilled trades is an important competitive advantage we have. You go on in the document to say that.
Why would we, as a Legislature, want to pass a bill that, according to the testimony we've had from repeated witnesses here in Windsor and elsewhere, reduces those standards and presumably will lessen our competitiveness? Would the automotive parts sector want to do that?
Mr MacDonald: We have said two things. One, the general direction of the bill is to be applauded. Two, there are some points that we'd like the government to take a closer look at. The most important of those is definitely quality assurance for the training.
Mr Lessard: When I saw your name, Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, on the list today, given the submissions that we've heard over the past couple of days of universal opposition to this legislation, I thought: "Ah, ha. There's somebody who is going to support this bill unequivocally."
However, you've indicated, as Mr Duncan has said, that you're concerned about the abolition of minimum education requirements, that it might undermine the red seal program, that there need to be standards for delivery of the workplace portion of the training. You're concerned about the minimum journeyman-to-apprentice ratios; you're concerned about provisions for the qualifications for supervisors of apprentices. Those are pretty fundamental principles that we see in Bill 55 that you are concerned with.
The question was asked earlier today, who is in support of the bill as it stands now? We know this is a process that's been going on for at least two years. You would have had numerous opportunities, I would think, to provide input to the Minister of Education and Training to the proposals that we're dealing with today. I'm very concerned that you have these concerns and I'm wondering, who do you think might be supporting this bill as it's proposed?
Mr MacDonald: A large part of the standards for training quality that are found in the Alberta law, and perhaps also in other jurisdictions, are provisions found in the regulations. I'd like very much to have seen the draft regulations before coming in here today --
Mr MacDonald: -- but the fact of the matter is that the regulations have not been drafted at this point and we're here, among other things, to say, "Here's something that we want to include in the regs." There's a lot in the legislation that deals with a variety of issues beyond quality, and we think the government is very astute in addressing the need for reform in the first place. There's a lot in the bill that is very much to be welcomed, as I've already indicated.
Mr Lessard: You can understand the difficulty I'm having as a legislator trying to pass a bill where I don't have the details. It's like being asked to buy a car where you're not going to get the warranty until the month after you buy it. It's a problem for us.
Mr Froese: On a point of order, Mr Chair: I'm wondering if all members of the committee could get the report that Mr MacDonald had mentioned. I believe it's the 1998 Technical Staff Compensation and Recruitment Survey Report.
The Chair: At this time we will call the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, local 1946. Good afternoon, sir, and thank you for joining us. If you could give your name and other details to members of the committee and for the Hansard record, and you have 20 minutes to use as you wish.
First, thank you for allowing me to speak at this hearing. We obviously are concerned with the statements included in Bill 55 and the effects these statements would have on apprentices and apprenticeship programs.
I think we here are all aware of the long-range views that must be taken to ensure future generations of tradespeople are trained adequately to supply the industry with a qualified workforce. These people will need to be highly skilled and capable, motivated and dynamic individuals that companies will employ to help them succeed in business. We must not be short-sighted nor short-viewed in this approach to reform.
Within Bill 55 there are many areas that hinder or stifle this long-range plan for quality and success for all companies requiring skilled tradespeople. Today's industry is, quite rightly, not the same as 30 years ago. Materials, techniques, and demands have changed, mostly affected by world and local marketplaces. Hence, not only has the skill level required but the information and knowledge level required to perform these tasks been magnified.
So the question arises as to why this bill would allow apprentices who wish to partake in this industry with a significantly higher knowledge demand come to this industry with less than a grade 10 level of education. Is this giving them a fair chance to succeed and is it fair to the industry to struggle with apprentices inadequately prepared to learn the trade?
I have a question. If we eliminate grade 10 as a base entry requirement, how can an employer be assured of getting an apprentice who is functionally literate enough to understand or comprehend and translate required information to perform assignments safely and to the best quality standards demanded by the consumer?
"Raising grade 10 to a grade 12 level raises a potential barrier to youth apprenticeship." This is a quote from the government. My comment to this is, yes, it is a barrier, but you need to have some insurance -- I can basically draw a parallel to entry exams for medical school -- that the participant has a general ability to succeed so as not to waste their time, the government's time and the employer's time or money. You are, with this attitude, perpetuating the stigma which has been over the trades for so long and which we have tried to eliminate: "Let's put all the people who we feel can't make it academically into the trades." Not only we but the employers don't want these people. They will not succeed in the trades. The trades have become so technologically advanced that we have heard countless times today they won't make it in the trades.
Once you consider what is required for a full and well-rounded education, academically or in the trades, you see why it is necessary to have the trades exist as a complete unit of instruction. What I mean by this is that you cannot segment the trades any more than you would segment the medical profession. You would not expect an intern to practise surgery without the close guidance of a resident doctor. This same intern will become a MD before they specialize. Therefore, the thought of a self-employed apprentice is ludicrous in its very nature.
The government wishes to see tradespeople and apprentices in this province obtain the mobility that is so essential, especially within the construction industry. With the insertion of skill sets to the trades, this mobility for our tradespeople and apprentices through the red seal program will be eliminated. We cannot possibly qualify within the criteria needed for red seal certification.
I sit on an apprenticeship board dealing with the red seal program. We have just finished a new occupational analysis for carpentry. We have finished the new interprovincial exam for the red seal, and we are now doing a standard for a common core curriculum across this country. I can tell you right now that if this bill is adopted, Ontario will not be part of the red seal program. They will not qualify, period. The government had better think long and hard about what they're doing to Ontario, because they will eliminate them from the red seal program.
We immediately recognize the result of partially training people for jobs. Once that job is over, so are those people's futures in that area. Hence the statement "a six-week job for a six-week training course." Therefore, we should leave intact the full trades as they are and thereby have full employment for fully trained people.
Another question I would like to pose is this: When an employee learns a particular skill set because the employer says, "That's all you need to know to do the job," what happens to that employee when that job ends? He no longer has a position and can't move anyplace else.
We have mentioned the Alberta program a couple of times in here. The attempt at multi-skilling and skill sets in Alberta which the government keeps referring to was a management-driven idea whose entire premise was to eliminate 35% of the workforce on the job site. How is that going to create more jobs? How can the government on one hand state that they want to increase job opportunities for youth and yet adopt a program designed to eliminate 35% of the jobs?
Stemming from this area is the question of enforcement of this and any other regulation that is brought forward. We have heard the government commend the PACs of this province for their knowledge and capability to assist the government in making logical decisions about the trade, and how the government felt the PACs should have more power to help regulate the trades they represent. I think it is time for the government to not only listen to the PACs, but to take into practice and give substantial powers to the PACs. Being made up of labour and management, these are the people who know the industry's wants and wishes; they are in fact the industry. Therefore, it should rest with the PACs to control the inner workings of the trades. To do this, they need the power to control wages, ratios and entry level educations.
Let us return to the apprentice whom this Bill 55 is supposed to be helping. How is cutting the apprentice's wages helping them? Where does an incentive to enter the trade arise? How is adding tuition costs helping them? How can a contract with yourself or anyone else not in some authority over the results of your actions be deemed adequate to develop a commitment to success? How can the elimination of a ratio of journeymen to apprentices be anything but detrimental to the learning process of the apprentice?
The government has stated that the apprenticeship program hasn't been reformed for 30 years, and perhaps it is time that we look closely at changes. But I state again: Listen, take heed, and implement the necessary requests from the people who know. Answer the questions posed previously and consider the long-range consequences of these actions you are about to initiate.
Mrs Pupatello: I wanted to go back to the national red seal program. We had asked questions earlier of other groups as well, because we understood that if this passes and becomes law, Ontario, rather than having the reputation it does today in terms of its skilled workforce, in fact is going to fall out of favour with the national program. Every province has agreed to have some certain set, and while some groups still advocate an even higher level within that program -- it isn't ideal yet -- it at minimum is some level of standard nationally.
You said very specifically, "We cannot possibly qualify within the criteria." Tell me some of the details about that. What criteria specifically? I don't think we're going to meet that either, but give me some specifics.
Mr Bodner: The first one that comes to mind is education. There is a certain limited education, and right now we have sat down and decided that probably the limit of education will be grade 12, so automatically, if you start bringing people in who are not at that level, they will not qualify.
Skill sets: We do not recognize skill sets whatsoever. In the red seal program, you are a journeyman carpenter, period, which means you encompass the entire trade, and every province, including Quebec, which had been a holdout for a long time, is on board with this. If you start deeming people as having a skill set, they will not qualify for that certification, period.
Mr Lessard: Thank you very much for your presentation. I was especially interested in your references to what has happened in Alberta. We just heard from the parts manufacturers, who suggested that Alberta was a model we should look towards as a successful reform process for apprenticeship.
I'd like to know whether you have any further information in writing that you'd be able to supply to the committee with respect to what has happened in Alberta and the results they've experienced, because we have some reports from what has happened in the southern United States, where they undertook this sort of initiative a number of years ago. I have a report that is called Confronting the Skilled Construction Work Force Shortage. It was --
Mr Lessard: Yes, from the Business Roundtable, that was provided to us yesterday, which indicated that even with standardized curriculum, and assuming qualified applicants enter the industry, the open shops that were getting all the work weren't living up to their commitment to provide training. The closed shops that had been providing that training weren't getting the jobs to sustain themselves and eventually they ran out of the pool of skilled workers and now they have severe shortages in those southern United States.
Mr Bodner: That's one of the documents I've alluded to, and there is another one, which I can get to you, by a research company down in the States that has done the research for this. Yes, there are a few states, and in Alberta they are finding at this time that, as you've said, it's not working. They had great hopes for it but, because of the reality of the situation out there, it is not working. I will produce that for you.
Mr Carroll: You are a self-employed journeyman carpenter; I'm a self-employed handyman. I come to you and I say, "I'd like to become an apprentice," and you say, "I don't mind teaching you the trade, I don't mind taking you on as an apprentice, but I don't want you as an employee because I don't want that bother of having to go through all the forms and so on." You say, "I'll take you on and I'll teach you the trade, I'll teach you as an apprentice, but you have to stay self-employed and take care of your own earnings." Why would you be against that?
Mr Bodner: Why would I be against that? That is the case. The situation exists that I would not be against it simply because for me to take him on, I could pay him probably one sixth the wages I would pay anybody else who is a certified carpenter. The bottom line is business, all right?
Mr Carroll: Suppose you didn't want to take him on as an employee because you didn't want the hassle of having an employee. You were prepared to take me on provided I continued to be self-employed. Why would that not be acceptable to you?
Mr Carroll: You're going to train me. I'm going to be an apprentice for you but I'm going to be self-employed. I'm going to look after raising my own income. You're the journeyman and you're going to teach me, but you don't want to take me on as an employee. I say, "Fine, I'll work under that situation, but I'll stay self-employed and I'm going to become an apprentice to you." Why is that not acceptable?
Mr Bodner: Yes, they do, but not in my business. If I'm a self-employed carpenter, my bottom line is profit. I keep my profit margin as best I can. You asked me because I'm a self-employed carpenter. If my bottom line is that I can hire somebody for $5 an hour instead of $15 an hour, guess whom I'm going to take?
Mr Carroll: So you would hire me if I would come as an employee and you would have me be an apprentice, but you wouldn't hire me if I said, "No, I'm prepared to come and be an apprentice for you but I'll be self-employed." I don't understand that.
The Chair: We have a group that has come forward and is interested in presenting their views, the Chatham and district trades council. As you are an addition to the agenda, if you could state your name and organization for the record, I'd appreciate that very much.
I apologize for not having a brief to hand you, but I didn't expect the opportunity to speak in front of the committee this afternoon. It was brought to my attention that possibly the last person was not going to show, so that's why I'm here now.
Fundamentally, the labour council is, as you can well guess, opposed to Bill 55. I represent approximately 11,000 people in Chatham from 26 different affiliated unions. Many of those unions have their own separate trade councils and they have contacted me about their significant concerns about Bill 55.
Particularly, what I'm hearing is that Bill 55 eliminates the ratio of journeymen to apprentices; the time guarantees for programs; it eliminates regulated wage minimums for apprentices; it encourages short-term training programs; and it puts at risk, in our opinion, employee health and consumer safety by abandoning certified trades.
I worked for an auto company for approximately 30 years. I was an instructor in some programs. The most common problem I encountered with some journeymen was -- they came up through the ranks, they worked diligently, they worked hard, they were very committed people -- that because of the technological world we live in, because of the rapid progression of technology, they were always having some difficulty in keeping up.
One of the biggest flaws in Bill 55 is, if it passes all three readings and is implemented as law, that it definitely will significantly reduce the educational requirements. I would challenge anyone on this panel to explain to me how reducing the educational requirements from grade 12 to grade 10, when math and technological know-how and robotics are such an important part of a journeyman's knowledge in this day and age.
The apprenticeship program up to now has worked fairly well in Ontario, not perfectly maybe, but I think we are the envy of other countries in the skills that our journeymen possess. The skills they possess are now transferable, meaning that they can go from employer to employer with the confidence that they can enter a plant or a workplace, wherever it is, and continue to be able to service the machinery, the systems, in that plant.
My understanding of this bill is that we'll be employer-driven, that the skills imparted on the apprentice and eventually the journeyman will not be transferable between workplaces, that they will only be applicable in many instances to that employer. I don't believe that's the way we should be going. We're heading down the wrong road with this bill.
As one of the previous speakers urged this committee, I think you should withdraw this bill, go back to the drawing table and ask those people who are best qualified to guide you. Consult with them as to what reforms, if any, need to be made to the apprenticeship act. I think Buzz Hargrove said it very well, that in coming up with the content of this bill, it's certainly reflected that you have not consulted the people who are the experts in the field of apprenticeship.
The Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation and that you were able to come here and get some time to speak to the committee members. With that, the line of questioning would start with the NDP caucus.
Mr Lessard: One of the things we're concerned about is the elimination of the protections that have traditionally been in place for apprentices. We heard about that earlier today and we heard about it yesterday. The government says, "Trust us, some of those protections are going to be in the regulations," but we haven't seen them yet.
One of the things that I'm most concerned about is the elimination of the minimum wage ratios of journeypersons to apprentices. We've heard that the Employment Standards Act may be there as protection for things like minimum wage in those situations, so that people who are apprentices would be faced with making $7 or $8 an hour, I guess. First of all, do you have concerns about there being only the minimum protections in the Employment Standards Act for apprentices? Second, do you think that the provisions of Bill 55 are going to encourage more young people to choose apprenticeship training as a career or discourage people?
Mr De Meester: In response to your first question about the wage rate being protected by the Employment Standards Act, we've seen the Employment Standards Act destroyed since this government came into power, in my opinion. We've seen other regulations which circumvent the Employment Standards Act, such as the proposed workfare model. I don't think the Employment Standards Act will be sufficient protection to those young apprentices who are certainly worthy of protection. All the Employment Standards Act does is guarantee minimum wage.
In response to your second question, I don't see the bill encouraging people to go into traditional skilled trades in Ontario. If anything, because of the proposed reduction in wages, because of the employer control, because of the very narrow confines of the context in which they should be able to learn, I don't see that at all. I see the opposite happening.
Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce): I just have two questions. They arise from the presentation by Mr Hargrove this afternoon. The first one is, what is being done by the representatives to the hearing process here today to encourage the federal government to put back the transfer payment that is being reduced? It has over the past four years dropped from a $40-million transfer fund to $6 million this year and is set to result in no transfer payment by June 1999. We're attempting to work very hard to make sure that transition of funds happens for the good of apprentices in Ontario. Is there any force being applied by these parties that we've heard today, including yourself, to help that come to a head?
Mr De Meester: Certainly. Through the Canadian Labour Congress, which the Canadian Auto Workers is affiliated with, we have been in strenuous opposition to the cut in transfer payments. However, I don't quite understand the relationship here between your government gutting the apprenticeship act and transfer payments. How is that relevant?
Mrs Fisher: Let me help you on that one a little bit. Many presentations today have inferred, maybe not yours, with regard to the position of the government in this area of discussion of apprenticeship training, that of funding or resources, providing the resources, that they want the industry and the workers to negotiate the terms around apprenticeship but they want us to be the funding model. The attachment comes with, where do you get those funds if in fact they are being taken away? It's very obvious that it is in direct relationship to the needs of continuing apprenticeship programs, as the people who came forward have indicated our role should be. There is a direct association.
We as a government understand the need to not only continue but to increase the number of apprenticeship entries into the workforce, something we fully support, but we also need some help in making sure that your request for us to fund it continues from where we were funding it at the beginning as well.
Mr De Meester: Mrs Fisher, let me guarantee you that we are definitely at a national level very vocal with the cutbacks to health and education and training in terms of transfer payments that came from the federal to the provincial government. Those cuts of course started under a Conservative government in Ottawa, and we were just as vigorously opposed to their policies as we are to the present government's.
Mrs Pupatello: I think we have to note for Mrs Fisher's information that Ontario is the last province to be able to engage in any kind of negotiation with the feds. The feds are trying to reach an agreement with Ontario. They've managed to do so with every single province in Canada except Ontario. It speaks volumes to the kind of relationship, unfortunately, that Ontario now has with the federal government: very confrontational, very fractious, lots of friction.
Every time the feds release funding, what the province does essentially is take the money for whatever it is they choose to do with it, and Ottawa finally will not stand for that any longer. Every time they make funding available for a particular purpose, the provincial government in Ontario chooses to give that money away in a tax cut, and that's been the history so far. The most recent example is the child tax credit, which the provincial government then took back from people on social assistance.
In any event, some of the comments you've made have echoed things that we have heard all day. My fear is that given the community you come from in Chatham, the general consensus is going to be much as Mr Hargrove said.
The final comment, to me, had the most impact, that this is about jobs and it's about lowering standards, which in essence becomes one of the critical elements that people look to when they are expanding in Ontario. His final comment I thought was very strong: that lowering standards means jobs in Ontario, and the people in Chatham have got to be as concerned about that as the people in Windsor.
Mr De Meester: I would agree with Mrs Pupatello's assessment, the final concurrence with Buzz Hargrove's comments, that this bill will lower the standards; should this bill pass, that the people who then go into apprenticeship programs and go on to be journeymen certainly will be lacking in a lot of skills when the rest of the world is progressing in other areas.
As the sun slowly sets in Windsor, we will soon be leaving for Sudbury. For the members of the committee, there will be a taxi at 5:45 at the front doors of the hotel and we have a very early flight. Thank you very much.