STANDING COMMITTEE ON
DE LA JUSTICE
Thursday 17 September 2009 Jeudi 17 septembre 2009
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Jeff Leal): Okay, we’ll bring this meeting of the Standing Committee on Justice Policy to order. We are reviewing Bill 183, which is the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2009.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I move that a subcommittee on committee business be appointed to meet from time to time at the call of the Chair, or at the request of any member thereof, to consider and report to the committee on the business of the committee;
Mr. David Zimmer: Thank you, Chair. Your subcommittee on committee business met on Tuesday, June 16, 2009, to consider the method of proceeding on Bill 183, An Act to revise and modernize the law related to apprenticeship training and trades qualifications and to establish the Ontario College of Trades, and recommends the following:
(2) That the committee clerk, with the authority of the Chair, post information regarding the committee’s business for one day during the last week of August in the following publications: the National Post, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, the Toronto Sun, Le Droit, and the Daily Commercial News.
(7) That, if all groups cannot be scheduled, each of the subcommittee members provide the committee clerk with a prioritized list of names of witnesses they would like to hear from by 4 p.m., Friday, September 11, 2009, and that these witnesses must be selected from the original list distributed by the committee clerk to the subcommittee members.
(9) That the appropriate Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities staff associated with Bill 183 be asked to provide a 15-minute technical briefing at the outset of public hearings on Thursday, September 17, 2009, and that each of the three parties be afforded five minutes to ask questions following the technical briefing.
(14) That the committee clerk, in consultation with the Chair, be authorized, prior to the passage of the report of the subcommittee, to commence making any preliminary arrangements necessary to facilitate the committee’s proceedings.
Consideration of Bill 183, An Act to revise and modernize the law related to apprenticeship training and trades qualifications and to establish the Ontario College of Trades / Projet de loi 183, Loi visant à réviser et à moderniser le droit relatif à la formation en apprentissage et aux qualifications professionnelles et à créer l’Ordre des métiers de l’Ontario.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Good morning, and welcome. The first item on the agenda at this point is the technical briefing by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. I’d like to invite up Patti Redmond, director, programs branch; Linda Jones, manager, standards and assessment; and Michelle Pottruff, legal counsel. I hope I got those pronunciations correctly. I apologize if I didn’t.
Ms. Patti Redmond: Thank you very much. My name is Patti Redmond, and I’m the director of programs branch. I’ll walk you through the presentation in the 15 minutes, and then my colleagues and I will answer any questions that you have. I’ll be referring to the presentation that we’ve included in your package in tab 3 of the binder. The purpose of our presentation here today is to provide you with an overview of the bill and some of the background leading up to it.
The outline on slide 1 is just an overview of the presentation. Quickly, in terms of context, the establishment of the college of trades, the all-trades governance institution, was a key recommendation of the compulsory certification review. The ministry engaged Kevin Whitaker, Ontario Labour Relations Board chair and a respected labour relations expert, to look at the implementation of a college of trades. Mr. Whitaker’s report is also included in your binder. Mr. Whitaker did consult with stakeholders as part of his mandate.
Slide 3 of your presentation just provides you with a bit of background on the apprenticeship and trades certification system in Ontario. Just to highlight a couple of key points: There are over 150 apprenticeable trades in Ontario, and they are divided into four sectors. Twenty-one of those trades are considered compulsory, meaning that you must be certified to work in that particular trade. The other slide just deals with some of the other information with respect to the system.
Slide 4 in your presentation material just provides you with an outline of Mr. Whitaker’s report. We have, as I said, included the full report in your binder and a summary of the recommendations as an appendix to this particular slide presentation.
In terms of the proposed legislation, the key features of it would be to establish the college of trades as an arm’s-length governing institution that would have as its primary goal to protect public interest and regulate persons practising in the skilled trades in Ontario and the employers who employ them. The bill outlines that membership of the college of trades would include all certified journeypersons in compulsory and voluntary trades and the employers who employ them.
The proposed legislation would create an appointments council with the function to appoint members of the overall governance structure of the college of trades, and I’ll talk about that a bit more in a second. It would empower the college with the responsibility of establishing training standards and determining whether a trade should be compulsory and what apprenticeship-to-journeyperson ratio should apply. That applies to certain trades within the system. The proposed legislation also sets out the functions that are retained by the ministry.
There are two existing acts that govern the apprenticeship and skilled trades system in Ontario, the Apprenticeship and Certification Act and the Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act. Those two acts would be repealed as a result of the proposed bill.
In terms of key features on slide 6 of your slide package, there are certain prohibitions contained within the proposed legislation: prohibiting individuals from practising in a compulsory trade—that is something that is currently in place; prohibiting individuals from holding themselves out as having a certificate of qualification in a voluntary trade unless that person does hold a valid certificate; prohibiting somebody from employing an individual to work in a compulsory trade unless they hold a certificate of qualification; continued on slide 7 of your package—prohibiting somebody from using the title of a compulsory trade unless they hold a valid certificate; prohibiting a person from representing that they are a member of the college unless they are; and from employing a journeyperson or sponsoring or employing an apprentice unless they hold a valid statement of membership.
On slide 8, we outline the key features. As I said earlier, the proposed legislation would establish the Ontario College of Trades with a duty to protect the public interest, and that would be consistent with other regulatory bodies. Then the slide outlines some of the key objects of the college, including regulating the practice of trades; developing, establishing and maintaining qualifications for membership; promoting the practice of trades; maintaining a public register; and the other things that are outlined on this slide in terms of the key objects of the college.
On slide 9, we outline what the proposed legislation creates in terms of the governance structure for the college. So it would create a board of governors to manage and administer the affairs of the college. The proposed legislation has this board of governors having 21 members made up of four members from each of the divisions that are within the skilled trades system—construction, motive power, industrial and service sectors—and within those four members, two members from each of the sectors would be employee representatives and two members would be employer representatives, and then the balance of the board being made up of five members who represent the public.
The proposed legislation also sets up four divisional boards and trade boards for trades or groups of trades and review panels that would be responsible for dealing with issues of ratio and compulsory certification.
On slide 10, we outline key features of registration, complaints and discipline with the proposed legislation. The college would have classes of members in addition to certified journeypersons in compulsory and voluntary trades and employers of journeypersons and apprentices and sponsors of apprentices. The board would have the ability to prescribe other classes within regulation. One of the main features in terms of registration would be the issuance of certificates of qualification to journeypersons and statements of membership to other members. As I mentioned earlier, there would be a register of members of the college available to the public, and consistent with other regulatory bodies, there would be committees dealing with registration, appeals, complaints, discipline and fitness to practise. Those are all outlined in the proposed legislation.
On slide 11, we outline some of the key features in terms of the registrar’s power of investigation and inspection. Basically, they would have the ability to appoint individuals to inspect and investigate for the purposes of determining whether the proposed legislation and requirements and prohibitions within the bill are being complied with, and provide for the inspection of members if there are reasonable or probable grounds that the member has committed an act of professional misconduct or is incompetent, and in addition, as I said earlier, provide for inspections for the purposes of determining compliance with prohibitions that are outlined in the bill and that I spoke about earlier.
On slide 12, we outline some of the additional key features related to issues of ratios, compulsory and voluntary trades, and as I mentioned, the proposed legislation would give the board responsibility for prescribing the criteria and process to be used by review panels in determining what the appropriate journeyperson-to-apprenticeship ratios would be for trades and prescribing a process for initiating a review, as well as the criteria to be used by review panels in determining whether a trade should have the status of compulsory or voluntary.
On slide 13, we outline what the proposed legislation creates in terms of the appointments council. It would establish a nine-member appointments council that is appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, and give that council the responsibility of appointing the members to the board—the 21 members that I outlined earlier—those divisional boards for the four sectors of the trades, the trade boards that would represent the trades and group of trades, as well as the roster of adjudicators that would be responsible for the review panels for ratios and compulsory certification. The proposed legislation outlines that the appointments council take into account the diversity of the province when appointing those members. It also provides for administrative support that the ministry considers necessary for the council.
On slide 14, we outline some of the features that relate to the apprenticeship system. Within the proposed legislation, the government is retaining certain functions for apprenticeship, including the registration of training agreements, which is the actual registration of the apprentice and the employer, and approving apprenticeship training providers. Those are the training delivery agents who provide the in-school portion of the training for the apprenticeship system. In addition, it would establish a minimum age requirement of 16 years of age for an apprentice and provide for wage rates, which are something that exist within the Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act for part of the system.
On slide 15, there are some other requirements in terms of the apprenticeship system that are outlined in the proposed legislation: providing for the hours of work; allowing the minister to appoint inspectors, in terms of ensuring the compliance with what is essentially the precertification phase with respect to registered training agreements and apprenticeship programs; and permitting the minister to establish and charge fees relating to the functions—so essentially that precertification phase.
On slide 16: The proposed legislation does outline the requirements in terms of transition; obviously, moving from what is the current system to what would be the new system under the proposed legislation. That nine-member appointments council that I referred to earlier would act as the first board of governors until the board of governors is appointed. In addition, there would be transition provisions for journeypersons who hold certificates of qualification under the existing pieces of legislation, obviously respecting our existing contracts and allowing for the continuation of things related to compulsory trades or voluntary trades, and the ratios as well.
The appendix of the slide deck, as I mentioned earlier, outlines the 19 recommendations that were provided within the Whitaker report. They are, as I said, summarized here within the slide presentation.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Thank you very much. We’ll divide the next 15 minutes up—you were almost exactly 15 minutes long, which is very good—between the different parties that are here. We’ll start on this side, with the Liberal Party. Mr. Zimmer, you have a question?
Mr. David Zimmer: It’s just on slide deck number 9: the composition of the board of governors. The first bullet point outlines the composition of the board of governors, and the second bullet point says, “set up four divisional boards ... trade boards ... and review panels.” Can you just explain the relationship and the interaction between the divisional boards, the trade boards, the review panels and the board of governors? How is that going to unfold?
Ms. Patti Redmond: Sure. The board of governors would essentially be governing the college of trades as a whole. Reporting to it would be four divisional boards that would represent construction, motive power, the service sector and the industrial sector. I think the structure is such that there would be a number of issues that would be dealt with at the divisional board level that would relate to those four sectors. Then, within each of those four sectors, there would be the trade boards. They would represent and deal with issues that would be very specific to a particular trade. So the training standards for electricians would be considered at a trade board, obviously with some guidance from the divisional board, as it relates to the division as a whole, and with the board of governors, which oversees the entire college.
I think the structure is such that it recognizes there is a tremendous amount of diversity within the 155 trades that are part of the apprenticeship system in Ontario, and that there are many issues that are quite specific to certain trades. That’s why you have that particular structure.
Ms. Patti Redmond: The review panels would be specifically responsible and created from time to time to deal with whether a trade should be compulsory or voluntary and what the journeyperson-to-apprenticeship ratio should be for a particular trade. They would be essentially struck, if I could put it that way, when those issues are being considered for a particular trade.
Mr. Jeff Leal: Thank you so much for your presentation. I just want to ask about section 60. This is certainly an issue that has concerned Mr. Rinaldi and myself. Particularly in east-central Ontario, the issue of ratios has been a topic of intense discussion. My quick question is: Explain the rationale for a four-year review. Is it better than two or three or 10?
Ms. Patti Redmond: Yes. There isn’t any specific time period that exists within the apprenticeship system, and it seemed, I think it’s fair to say, a reasonable period of time by which consideration should be given to what the ratio should be, allowing for a certain period of time by which there could be changes to the requirements within a particular trade, because these occupations evolve at all times as new technology is introduced and as different approaches are introduced. It seemed that that was an appropriate period of time.
Mr. Jeff Leal: I thought there might be a relationship, because normally it’s a four-year cycle for the training period for many apprenticeships. You would have a new crop of apprentices coming out every four years, and that might be the opportune time to look at ratios. That was at the back of my mind when I was reading this particular section of the bill.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): We’ve used up the five minutes for the Liberal side. I’m going to go over to the Conservatives and the NDP at this time. I know there are some individuals with questions there, so either Mr. Bailey or Ms. Elliott.
Mr. Robert Bailey: Thank you for the presentation. I have a couple of questions. I understand that, as it’s drafted presently, there’s no representation for the colleges of Ontario on the board. Is that proposed?
Ms. Patti Redmond: That’s correct. The membership of the 21-member board would be for individuals from each of the four sectors, plus five persons who would represent members of the public. It is our anticipation that the college would obviously have to work closely with all the training delivery agents, which includes the community colleges—there are 65 training delivery agents; the community colleges and other trainers out there—in order to ensure the training standards, in terms of the in-school portion, as the ministry does now in terms of working with them.
Mr. Robert Bailey: I guess that was their question to me. They wanted to know, because they would be responsible for help, possibly developing curriculum, if they were going to be involved with the board to help draft that.
Ms. Patti Redmond: It is our anticipation that the college, in order to ensure that the training standards align with the in-school portion, would have to work closely with the training delivery agents.
Ms. Michelle Pottruff: No. As it’s drafted, everyone would be included. But there are exemption provisions that can be done by regulation, and who exactly will be exempted from all or certain portions of the act has yet to be determined.
Mr. Robert Bailey: Would that be over and above? Say you’re an electrician and you pay your union dues every month. Currently they pay a fee, apparently to register every year—I don’t know what it is; I’m not a part of that. Would this be over and above that, or would this supersede that? Do you know?
Ms. Patti Redmond: I’m not really sure what fee would be in addition. Again, it would be a decision of the college in establishing its fee structure. I don’t want to speak on behalf of it, because that is a decision it has to make about what the fee structure should be. It will likely take into account what other fees individuals might have to pay. The ministry currently collects fees from journeypersons for certificate renewal purposes, and we would no longer do that. That would become a responsibility of the college. So it wouldn’t be in addition to the ministry fees related to that, but whether an individual has other fees not related to the ministry and their membership in the college would be a decision the college would have to make.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: I just have a quick question for the ministry officials. You will recall that the Auditor General’s report was very critical of many of the things that happened or didn’t happen. The question is: Do you anticipate that the college of trades will answer many of the questions that have been raised over many years and that they would be able to deal with all the various complaints that the Auditor General raised? If so, how, and what specifically is in the college of trades that would deal with all the questions he raised?
Mr. Rosario Marchese: In terms of many registrants but few completing the program, in terms of the fact that there are 100 consultants who deal with 35,000 employers—all those various questions. You’ll remember the auditor’s report, I’m sure.
Ms. Patti Redmond: Yes, I do, Mr. Marchese, and I think the college has, as its objects, many things in terms of promotion of the trades. Obviously, it is industry-driven, and so industry is represented there in terms of promoting completions and things like that. So the college would have an important part in dealing with the issues that were raised as part of the auditor’s report. But obviously the college and the ministry would continue to have to work together in addressing those types of issues as part of the system.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: I understand, and that’s a separate issue and I hope they will do that. I don’t know how they will do that, but I suspect they will somehow. But it’s not clear how they might do it, even though that’s one of the objectives. But the rate of completion of certification has been very poor over the last seven to 10 years, and we’ve known about it for a long, long time. We’re assuming that the college of trades will actively deal with that. Do we have a sense of how they’re going to do that, or do we simply hope they will do that?
Ms. Patti Redmond: As I outlined, the college has some specific responsibilities related to the promotion. Obviously the proposed bill includes some of the roles and responsibilities and how it will deal with those kinds of issues. The college will have to make those decisions about how it approaches that, but that is one of its primary objects.
Mr. Lou Rinaldi: Just a quick question. I think it’s a good presentation, and thank you very much, but could you clarify—and I’m not sure what page or tab number. You refer to consumer protection to deal with that piece. We talked about the mechanism, the very technical part of what the college will do and its structure, but at the end of the day Joe Public is the end receiver of whatever product we produce or whatever you folks do. The college structure, as it goes through the process: Will we be able to tell consumers that they’ll be more protected than they presently are today, whatever shape it’s going to take, or do you anticipate that? I guess it’s hard—
Ms. Patti Redmond: Yes. Obviously, as I mentioned earlier, there are some specific requirements within the proposed legislation that provide for things like a public registry of members so that members of the public would now be able to see who is certified and a member of the college. As I outlined earlier, the proposed legislation includes provisions related to the discipline of members, the prohibitions, the inspection, and the investigation activities related to this.
Mr. Reza Moridi: Thank you, Ms. Redmond, for this presentation. In the proposed legislation, classes of memberships are proposed. One is for certified journeyperson and also people who employ certified journeypersons, and then the next category is “others.” Could you please elaborate on that very point, what those others might be?
Ms. Patti Redmond: Yes. The proposed legislation gives the ability of the college to create other classes of members and an opportunity for the college to determine what those classes would be. It may include, as a class of member, persons who are working in the voluntary trades who haven’t sought certification or apprentices. So I think, in drafting the proposed legislation, the college would have to consider what those classes may be and create those classes of membership.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Pursuant to our subcommittee decision, we’re now going to call for deputations. The first one will be the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Each deputation will have 15 minutes. If you finish early, any time left over will be used up with questions. So I want to welcome Mr. Satinder Chera, director of provincial affairs, and Mr. Plamen Petkov, senior policy analyst. Good morning, and welcome.
Mr. Satinder Chera: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good morning, everyone. On behalf of our members, the 42,000 small and medium-sized members that are in the Canadian Federation of Independent Business in Ontario, we appreciate this opportunity to share with you their concerns with Bill 183. We will be speaking from the slide deck that is in your kit. The materials in the kit are also referred to in our presentation entitled Replacing One Problem with Another.
Going to page 1, the bottom slide there, just to give you an indication of the makeup of our membership, we represent virtually every sector of the economy. Our members set association policies through our one member-one vote system.
Going to page 2, the top slide, we want the committee to keep this fact in mind as it goes through its deliberations, which is that the small and medium-sized enterprise sector represents more than half the employment of the province, more than half the GDP, and 81% of Ontario businesses right now have fewer than five employees. Certainly with this recent downturn in the economy, an increasing number of Ontarians are looking to self-employment for the road ahead.
The bottom slide on page 2 speaks to our business barometer that we do now on a monthly basis. This gauges our members’ expectations for the economy. Thankfully, the most recent one, from August, shows a turnaround in small business expectations, trending upward. This is certainly a positive sign.
Going to page 3, the top slide there: There are, however, some major constraints on businesses, and given that our sector creates most of the new jobs both in good times and in bad, dealing with their concerns is absolutely critical. One of the major concerns that they have is the shortage of skilled labour. The bottom of page 3 illustrates that we’ve done a ton of work around the shortage of qualified labour as well as the training issues going back many years. Most of the studies that are referred to here are in your kits.
In our latest report on training, Canada’s Training Ground, which is also enclosed in the materials that we submitted to you, we were able to look into labour shortages in more detail and to come up with a breakdown of labour shortages by skill level. So what this next slide here tells you is that 37% of our members are saying to us right now that they are currently experiencing labour shortages in areas or in jobs that require apprenticeship training. One way for small businesses to deal with these shortages is, of course, to train. In the same report, we estimate that on average, small and medium-sized businesses spend about $2,700 per employee per year on both informal and formal training. What this chart here shows you is that the smaller the business, the higher the cost of training, which essentially means that the smallest firms out there are disproportionately affected by training costs.
When it comes to apprenticeship training, our members have identified some key reasons that actually motivate them to train apprentices. You see the list in front of you. Apprenticeship training is a good way for them to deal with labour shortages; it helps them prepare the next generation of journeypersons and come up with a succession plan; and, ultimately, it helps them grow their business. At the same time, our members have identified some key challenges that they experience when providing apprenticeship training. The list is pretty sizable. Many members have indicated that they sometimes lose their investment in training when their apprentices are being poached by larger businesses. A lot more needs to be done about the in-class portion of the training so that it doesn’t disrupt business operations. I already talked about how high costs have become and how burdensome they have become for the smallest firms out there, and of course the issue of ratios, especially to the smallest firms in those trades that currently have restrictive ratios.
When it comes to ratios—and the next slide here indicates the major challenges for apprentices—we were able to survey them as well and compare their views with the views of the employers. You would note that the top challenge for apprentices right now is ratios. We’ve received many comments from apprentices, and there were some really good examples there on how apprentices would actually approach an employer directly to sponsor their training and the employer would not be able to do that because of ratio requirements.
When it comes to incentives within the existing apprenticeship training, the tax credit is a very helpful measure, and we’re glad to see that the government has recently enhanced that credit and has made it permanent. At the same time, when we surveyed our members we found out that about half of them were not aware of this credit. We showed these results to the Minister of Finance as well and he was very surprised by this number. Apparently, a lot more needs to be done to promote this credit. Of those members who actually know about it, some of them have commented that they’re not in a position to take full advantage of it because they’re not allowed to hire as many apprentices as they can because of ratio requirements.
In terms of the existing apprenticeship structure and when it comes to provincial apprenticeship committees, what this next slide shows you is that small business was never really represented on those committees, and, going forward with the elimination of these committees and replacing them by trade boards under the proposed legislation, small businesses are not really convinced that their representation will improve.
Finally, here’s a short list of some of the major concerns that our members have expressed in relation to Bill 183. As I mentioned, there is a heightened level of skepticism about whether the proposed college will achieve its goals and create a level playing field. The college will be a self-regulating agency, and our members’ experience with such agencies has been primarily negative.
I talked a lot about ratio and about how there is a growing sense of unfairness among our Ontario members in terms of the ratios that are currently in Ontario, in light of the efforts that have been made across the country to reduce ratios in other provinces.
There are no criteria in the proposed bill about the selection of the appointments council. This is going to be a body which we think is going to be of critical importance because this will be the body that will set up the permanent governance board and the review panels that will deal with ratios and compulsory certification. Small businesses want to know who is going to be on that council and whether small business will be represented.
Membership fees are a concern. They’re seen as a tax on tradespeople. There’s no clarity as to how the piece will be determined and what the value for money will be to tradespeople who will be paying those fees.
Finally, there is nothing in this bill that will help reduce training costs. On the contrary, actually, training costs may increase because of the new fees that tradespeople will have to pay. We think this may discourage new employers from engaging in apprenticeship training.
We felt that it was important to present these concerns to you today and we hope that you will give them serious consideration. With that, we’ll be glad to answer any questions that you might have for us.
Mrs. Christine Elliott: Thank you very much for your presentation—very succinct, very well-organized. I wonder if you could just comment on one of the concerns that you commented on, the second one, that your experience with self-regulating agencies has not been positive. If you could just elaborate on that a little bit.
Mr. Satinder Chera: Happy to. Particularly when you look at, for example, Waste Diversion Ontario, this was a policy that was enacted by the government in 2003. Our experience with them has not been very positive. I think the government at that time wisely recognized that there might be an adverse impact on small businesses, so they specifically built into the legislation a clear requirement that there be a de minimis in place so that the smallest of firms wouldn’t be adversely impacted. Since then, however, just as we thought, most of the players around the waste diversion group, mostly large businesses and municipalities, would love to see that de minimis eliminated. That’s just one example.
More recently, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority: The Minister of Consumer Services has introduced legislation to rein in their operations. One of the areas that he’s looking at is representation. The other area he’s looking at is policy measures. Another example is the Electrical Safety Authority, recently. The Minister of Consumer Services had to intervene to put in place a moratorium on charging of fees on manufacturers at a time when the manufacturing sector was on its knees.
Constantly, what we have found is that with self-regulating entities, small businesses are always drowned out, bar none, consistently. So we have absolutely no confidence that this will address our members’ concerns at all. And again, given the track record with other agencies out there, which I would ask the committee to take a look at as well, it hasn’t been very, very positive.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: But you didn’t mention the other two, because I read your report when you sent it six months ago or a year ago. The top one is the following: “Investment in training apprentices might be lost to other firms.” That’s 57%; that’s the top one. That’s one of the complaints I’ve had for a long time, and that is that some firms invest and some do not because they’re afraid they will lose it to others who are not investing. So we don’t deal with that at all and you don’t speak to that, but that’s the biggest challenge. The other one is, “Releasing apprentices for in-class training disrupts business”—that’s 34%—which means, “It’s going to disrupt business, therefore we can’t send them even though training is good.” But that’s 34%. The next one is, “Costs to supervise and train apprentices are too burdensome.” That’s 32%. Then below that is, “Rules on journeyperson-apprentices.” That’s the fourth. But there are three other top challenges above that one which are serious.
I believe businesses need to invest in apprentices, and you say they do, informally and formally, up to 2,700. I’m not sure they all do that, and whether it’s mostly informal or formal. But I believe business has to contribute to that labour shortage you were speaking to, because that’s in your interest.
I know some small businesses will have a hard time in terms of investing. That’s where governments have to step in to be helpful. But I believe, like Quebec does, we should be investing in the training of our own workers, because we all benefit.
You would know that we met with you last year and briefed you on the results of this report. Thank you for taking the time and giving us the opportunity to do that. I also know that you have been referring to our research in the House during debate, so thank you for doing that as well.
When it comes to these challenges, let me be very clear about this specific chart, where it identifies major challenges to business owners. This sample here includes responses from members who trained in all trades. This does not include only members who trained in those trades that have restrictive ratios, right? So here, when people answered this question, they could be people who actually trained in those trades that currently don’t have any ratios.
Now, when we take the sample of those members who are in those trades that have restrictive ratios, that factor here about ratios, the number jumps immediately from 27%. That, for those people in those trades, is their top concern.
We also see the same thing in the comments section. We received about 35 pages of comments from our members on these specific challenges. Again, when we identified members by trade, the ratios appear to be the top issue for them.
Mr. Plamen Petkov: In our last report—it’s a nationwide report—we looked at training costs. Again, I would encourage you to read that report. There is plenty of information there, especially in our methodology notes, in terms of—
Mr. Plamen Petkov: Actually, they invest quite a lot. Our estimate is that the small business community in total, not just our members—the small business community in Canada—invests about $18 billion a year in training, including informal and formal training.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: What I got from the presentation is that you believe that perhaps the interests of smaller employers could be represented if some allowance was made for their appointment to the appointments council.
Mr. Reza Moridi: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you for your presentation. One of the concerns you raise is that in the proposed legislation there is no provision for the selection of the appointments council. Do you have any specific idea or specific recommendations on what should the criteria be for the appointment of members of that council?
Again, our general experience with self-regulating bodies is that they tend to drown out the small business voice unless the majority is—unless we find there is a strong small business voice there. Generally their concerns are punted aside. I think, again, wisely, your government recognized this fact in 2003, so that when you did bring in the Ontario waste authority, one of the things you made sure of in there, and clearly, was that there was de minimis for smaller firms. I think you certainly recognized that their voice might be drowned out. I think that has certainly been a firewall in many, many ways in terms of protecting our members.
I’m not sure, if there’s a specific requirement in there, if that’s going to make things better—again, based on our current experience, it hasn’t been—until the government has actually walked in and made some very specific requirements that small businesses be excluded or that they have a particular voice at the table.
I don’t know whether one or two voices on a board of 20 are going to make a difference. Our experience elsewhere—I can just go by what our experience elsewhere is—is not very positive with self-regulating industries. I thought it was quite informative, the exchange between Mr. Marchese and the ministry before, to his point, which was there is really not much in here where the government can say, “Look, we can pretty much guarantee that this will be the outcome.” Really, they’re leaving it in the hands of this body, which is going to be self-regulated. Given the current experience with other authorities where the government has had to step in, I think we’re a little perplexed by the government’s approach to this area.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): We’ll move on to our next deputation, which is the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. Good morning and welcome. I have Mr. Ed Frerotte here, but if you could identify yourself for the purposes of Hansard; this is being recorded.
Mr. Ed Frerotte: My name is Ed Frerotte. I’m the apprenticeship and training coordinator with the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, apprentice and training trust fund here in Ontario. That trust fund is made up of an equal number of union representatives and contractors from the Boilermaker Contractors’ Association.
I want to thank you for allowing me to speak today. I won’t be very long, but I do have a couple of points. First off, I’d like to say in general that we like the legislation, both the contractors and the union. There are going to be a couple of points I’d like to address on that, but it is a good bill, and we have participated throughout the program with the Tim Armstrong report and with Mr. Whitaker’s.
I think one of the positives of this is that combining the ACA and the TQAA is going to benefit the government and the province both economically and administratively. We all know time is money and that once you combine the two and get rid of some of the duplicity, it should assist both sides, the public as well as the industry.
One of the main points for us, the boilermakers’ apprentice and training trust fund, is that there finally be a prescribed process for compulsory certification. It states in there that the review panel will look at that once the trade boards move it up to the review panel. Boilermakers in particular have been advancing compulsory status for our trade for approximately 13 years, and we never really received an answer except to submit again, which we have done a couple of times. We think it’s very important for the public and for our trade that the boilermakers become compulsory here in Ontario. We are compulsory in three other jurisdictions in Canada, and two others have applications going forward as well. At least, hopefully, we’d get an answer.
The other thing I would like to see changed or recommend as a change within the bill is that apprentices be included. I heard the presentation earlier on others, and I think that apprentices do need to be named within the legislation. I see that it could be done under the others, but they are the future of the trades, and in order to recruit for all trades, not just for our own trade, I think it’s very important that apprentices get included in there.
I’d also like to see the trade boards increased. Right now, they’re set at four members: two from employers and two from labour. To get a quorum as well as to represent each area of the province, I think that number is small. You’d need three of the four and with people scheduling—and my experience on the PAC; I sit on the Boilermaker PAC, construction boilermaker, and the welder/fabricator under the ACA, and in order to get a quorum—four is a very small number, and to represent the province equally from all areas, I also think that six to eight would be a much more manageable position and it would be easier for those boards to function.
Again, I think that for construction, one of the largest industries here in the province of Ontario, this legislation is good, but I do think that when the nominations come forward for the trade boards, for the governing body, construction has to be involved and the provincial building trades also should be involved when it comes to naming the labour portion of those trade boards. The evolution of the college of trades, the building trades: should be very much involved in that as well.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Thank you, Mr. Frerotte. A couple of questions: The Ontario Federation of Labour and others say—I’m not sure you’d say the same—that two thirds of Bill 183 is devoted to disciplinary procedures, while lacking the bylaws and regulations that could make the apprenticeship system better. Does that worry you as well?
Mr. Ed Frerotte: No, sir. I don’t see that in there. I do see that there are discipline procedures in there. There are disciplinary procedures in our apprenticeship ourselves, and there has to be. You have to have a governing body. Somebody has to make the rules and enforce those rules, so I don’t see that as a problem, sir.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: No. I was just saying that they raised that as an issue, and a few other unions raised that, too. I personally believe there should be a fine balance, because I think there are very many legitimate complaints, and they have to be dealt with. On the other hand, there could be an exaggerated number of claims, and very few people will have resources to defend themselves. If that’s the case, the question is, how do they deal with that?
They say we should separate the real trades, where it takes time in terms of apprenticing and becoming a journeyman, where it takes two to five years—it’s a long process—versus some other areas which could be classified as occupations, where you do some training but it’s not very long, and they’re very different. I happen to agree with that, but in this particular instance, they’re all lumped in together. Do you have any concerns about that?
Mr. Ed Frerotte: I don’t disagree with that at all, to tell you the truth. What you want to do is differentiate between skill sets or occupations and trades, so I do not disagree with that. I think it’s a very good point.
The boilermakers apprenticeship, for instance, is 6,600 hours in-base. That’s four years that someone gives up. We have a very high completion rate because we do great training. We market ourselves pretty well, but we could still use more. I think the college of trades will help us there, but I don’t disagree with that.
They have a concern, which I have expressed as well in the Legislature, that we are fragmenting the trades into different little components, and they’re called trades. That worries me, and that’s not taken care of in this bill; in fact, it’s continued. And if it worries you, do you have a comment to the Liberal members about how they might fix that?
Mr. Ed Frerotte: No, I don’t have a comment on how they might fix it. I do agree that the trades—it should be differentiated between an apprenticeable trade and a skill set or an occupation, but I don’t have an answer on how you can fix that.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: You expressed frustration in the past with the processes that are used to certify a compulsory trade. There doesn’t seem to be a set way of doing it. It seems to have been sort of hit and miss in the past, I think is what you were saying. Do you see the college of trades as providing a formal route for that to happen?
There was talk earlier about the fees and how you ensure that the fees don’t become onerous for business or they don’t become onerous for the individuals who are also members. The implementation adviser has recommended an initial fee of $100 per year. I think, from what we heard today from Patti, that would be exclusive of the fee that’s already paid to the government, so you would subtract that fee that’s paid to the government. The implementation adviser is saying it should be $100 a year for a journeyperson and $100 a year for an employer as a starting point.
As far as the future fees, our employees on the contractor side, our members on the union side, will not receive it well initially, but if we can move forward and clean up some of the problems that have been in the past through the MTCU—MTCU has done a wonderful job for us, but as far as the compulsory certification, it has been a long process—the value would be there. Our members are paid very well for the hard job that they do, so I don’t see it as a humongous obstacle, but there will be some resistance.
Mr. Reza Moridi: Thank you for the presentation. In your presentation, you mentioned that the trades and apprentices should be mentioned in the proposed legislation, where they haven’t been. I wonder if you would elaborate a little bit more on that. In my view, if this happens, this might limit the college in the future. If a trade becomes apprenticeable, then it will have to go through the legislation process, which will be a very lengthy process, as you know very well, but if you leave it for the college, then of course the college will be able to do this through regulations or an internal process. Would you please elaborate on that?
Mr. Ed Frerotte: Currently, it says that journeypersons and employers of apprentices or journeypersons—that’s who’s named in the legislation. In the first presentation, which I hadn’t—it wasn’t part of my presentation—it said that others could remain. You can add apprentices in. But apprentices should be named, I think, within the legislation itself.
Mr. Robert Bailey: Thank you for your presentation today, Mr. Frerotte. I come from Sarnia–Lambton, so I’m quite familiar with the boilermakers trade, with the pipefitters and the carpenters and all that. I had the opportunity and privilege to work in industry before that and to work closely with many of your members, as well as the other members, and I know the training that they receive.
Sarnia–Lambton—I’ll put a plug in here—has some of the best tradespeople. Approximately 5,000 who are there work and build projects for the world and for the province of Ontario, and I know the training and everything that they do.
In my case, we have Lambton College in Sarnia that would, I assume, be working hand in hand with your membership and with the other trades. Is that how you see this evolving with this new college of trades? How closely would they be working together, and how would it change apprenticeship as it is today?
Mr. Ed Frerotte: Currently, our TDA is Humber College. We’re a provincial local, so everything comes into Humber. I don’t see it changing much. I see the same relationship with the TDAs, with the colleges, that we have currently. We have a very good relationship with Humber, and the other trades have their relationships with their colleges as well. I don’t see it as a problem whatsoever.
Mr. Robert Bailey: Can you elaborate a little bit more on how the membership—I heard what the government side said—because I think that’ll be a little bit of pushback. I know in our area, I’ve heard already about the additional fee for the membership for the licensing.
Mr. Ed Frerotte: If the college of trades pans out as it’s supposed to and streamlines some of the problems that we’ve had in the past, not just with compulsory certification but with promoting the trades, there will be value in there. Of course there will always be pushback, out of fear, but I believe the value is there and that it will be within the system.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): We’ll move on to our last morning presentation, which is the Canadian Union of Public Employees. I have Mr. Fred Hahn listed here, but if you could just indicate your names and titles for the purposes of Hansard, I’d appreciate it.
Mr. Fred Hahn: Good morning. My name is Fred Hahn, and I am the secretary-treasurer of CUPE, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, in Ontario. With me is Shelly Gordon; she’s a researcher from our union.
CUPE is the largest union in the province, and we represent 240,000 workers. They can be found primarily in five major sectors: health care, school boards, social service agencies, universities and municipalities. Among our membership in Ontario, we represent thousands of skilled trades members, people in the broader public sector in the authentic trades, as well as tens of thousands of other certified occupations regulated under the Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act and the Apprenticeship and Certification Act.
As a union, we welcomed the public discussions that started with Tim Armstrong’s report on compulsory trades. We view apprenticeship and on-the-job training connected specifically with education offered through public schools and colleges as a key component to a comprehensive labour force strategy. Trades jobs are good jobs, and we know that we need to invest in training and make investments in good jobs in the province, particularly now and particularly when so many good manufacturing jobs have been lost.
As a union, we believe it’s vital to expand skilled trades and apprenticeships and training initiatives in the public sector as well as in the private sector, and this must be part of a comprehensive economic plan for the province. Almost a year ago, we expressed our serious concerns that the only policy piece brought forward from the Armstrong report was the introduction of a college of trades.
Like the OFL, the Ontario Federation of Labour, and the rest of the labour movement, we agreed that the current situation with respect to trades in Ontario was unacceptable and needed to be overhauled, but we pointed out that taking a narrow approach to compulsory certification without addressing the overall system-wide deficiencies would only continue to handicap long-term skills development in Ontario. We said that a regulatory college is not the way to fix the apprenticeship system.
CUPE Ontario has been consistent in our opposition to the introduction of regulatory colleges for our members who work in social services, in child care and for paramedics, and we think that Bill 183 substantiates our worries to this approach as well.
Our union believes that Bill 183, the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2009, won’t meet the needs of workers in the trades or the needs of employers in the province of Ontario, particularly in the broader public sector. Like the Ontario Federation of Labour, we think the proposed act will create a model that’s too complicated and won’t solve the problems of implementing decisions on trades and apprenticeships. It will be too oriented on discipline of workers to be truly effective.
The structures envisioned in Bill 183 will be top-heavy and top-down. They won’t be accountable and they will become immediately mired, we think, in jurisdictional disputes and bogged down in bureaucracy. Bill 183 doesn’t establish an effective governance structure that can promote trades and apprenticeships in Ontario.
When Kevin Whitaker was asked by the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities to figure out how to implement a college of trades, he attended CUPE Ontario’s first-ever trades conference last fall. After hearing Mr. Whitaker’s recommendations, over 200 of our members, representing dozens of local unions from across the province and from all sectors, confirmed our opposition to a regulatory college approach.
CUPE members who work in the trades keep believing that the government of Ontario needs to take action on provincial oversight and governance of trades and apprenticeships. Our members recommended that the government needs to make sure that it provides public funding for high-quality expanded apprenticeship opportunities, make sure that public money made available to employers is actually used on creating high-quality apprenticeship and training programs, put some measures in place with targets and timelines to increase the participation of women and other equality-seeking groups in accessing apprenticeships to make sure that all trades and apprenticeships come under a single act, and promote trades through advertising initiatives and other ways like reintroducing shop classes in schools.
We’re concerned that Bill 183 doesn’t solve the problems that are faced by workers in the trades and doesn’t address these issues that our members urgently think need to be addressed by the government of Ontario.
Those are general points we wanted to make about the bill, and there are other labour organizations which will make them as well, but we wanted to call your attention in particular to the work that our members do in what’s often called the MUSH sector—municipalities, universities, school boards, hospitals—and also in homes for the aged and other social service agencies. There are some real differences between the work that our members do in the MUSH sector and with construction in other parts of the private sector.
We’re concerned that maybe the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities doesn’t realize that Bill 183, covering all trades and occupations, will sweep thousands and thousands of our members under this new college. We canvassed employers and associations in municipalities, hospitals and school boards and found them to be unaware of the potential impacts of Bill 183 in broader public sector workplaces.
I want to just spend a minute giving you some detailed examples about how CUPE members in the MUSH sector and in social services could be affected, because we don’t think people have really turned their minds to it.
First, I want to give you a list of compulsory trades currently covered under the TQAA in school boards, hospitals, universities and municipalities. They all employ electricians, plumbers, steamfitters and refrigeration mechanics. In the list of voluntary trades under the TQAA, there are CUPE members who are masons, tile-setters, carpenters, architectural glass and metal technicians, and painters. Now, in general, contractors are employed from the trades for the purposes of construction in the broader public sector, but institutions themselves employ people with the same qualifications for ongoing maintenance work.
CUPE members in the restricted trades under the ACA include automotive service technicians, even the occasional hairstylist in the health care sector. Thousands more CUPE members work in unrestricted trades under the ACA, and some of those occupations that are common across the MUSH sector are arborists and horticultural technicians, cooks and bakers, draftspersons, machinists, millwrights, heavy equipment operators, automotive technicians of all kinds, locksmiths, welders and child and youth workers, but we also have 25,000 members who are educational assistants, we have 6,000 members who are early childhood educators and we have 6,000 members who are developmental service workers. I just want to note that the developmental service worker piece was inadvertently left out of the written part of our presentation, but they’re an important part of the members we represent.
In addition to all those job titles, it’s important for us to note that in many smaller hospitals, municipalities and school boards, there are CUPE members who have been multi-skilled. They take on more than one trade. They’re called general tradespeople, or a contractor/handyperson or a mechanic/gardener and so on. It’s because in many of these workplaces, there aren’t enough resources to hire individual people to cover individual bits, and so people have been multi-skilled and trades jobs have been created to cover several functions.
CUPE locals and employers in the MUSH sector have established apprenticeship programs for cooks, millwrights, auto mechanics, elevator mechanics, electricians—so I’m just trying to reiterate my point that Bill 183 will sweep thousands and thousands of broader public sector employees represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees under the jurisdiction of this college and, in fact, we don’t think that the impact of that has been adequately considered or understood.
I want to give you a specific example. The ACA covers early childhood educators. They already have a regulatory college imposed upon them. It also covers educational assistants. As Ontario moves towards full-day learning for three- to five-year-olds, there are going to be ongoing interministerial discussions, public consultations about how to integrate the staff of community-based child care centres and those in the school system into a new system. These discussions include questions of qualifications, upgrading, a transition phase and dedicated funding for training. All of these issues could be affected by the regulations of programs established under Bill 183. We recommend that those issues remain in the purview of their respective ministries and be excluded from the scope of any new regulatory trade body.
We also want to reiterate that in part of our submission made to Charles Pascal on implementing this new system of early learning, we said that the government has to include adequate funding to make sure that there’s professional development in the child care workforce that’s publicly funded and delivered. In any case, it doesn’t make any sense for early childhood educators to be covered under two regulatory colleges, so specifically, we would recommend that they be excluded from the college of trades.
Other provincial ministries also have discussions on on-the-job training, recognition of skills acquisition, even setting up pilot projects for other occupations now listed under the ACA, like child and youth workers and developmental service workers, so we want to make sure that funds for training and apprenticeship programs of these types are not tied to membership in a regulatory college of any kind.
We’ve consistently pointed out that regulatory colleges for broader public sector employees just don’t make sense. The employees in the broader public sector are directed by their employers and subject to the discipline of their employers. They’re subject to the policies of those employers and legislation that covers their work. Giving another body authority to determine qualifications, impose job content, investigate work performance and practice, and impose discipline on both the employer and the employee is not only unnecessary, but it will interfere with the regular operations and labour relations in municipalities, school boards, hospitals, universities and other health and social service agencies. It’ll be a big problem for employers and unions in the MUSH and social services sector if regulations developed under Bill 183 change the qualifications or job content of any of those jobs. It will cause big problems if any provisions of Bill 183 or regulations established under it contradict collective agreements negotiated between CUPE and the employers. We recommend that if that happens, the collective agreements and the authority of the Ontario Labour Relations Act need to prevail.
A regulatory college will cost money, not just for individuals but for employers and ultimately for the unions who defend them. We don’t know what the fee will be either for individuals or employers, but we do know that CUPE will begin to bargain that employers cover the costs for their employees to attend a college.
There will be legal costs for individuals, unions and employers for enforcement and disciplinary procedures under a college. These may be much more substantial than the costs for employers to actually belong. CUPE will bargain to have employers cover the costs for their employees involved in these proceedings as long as they’re acting under the direction of their employer.
We can be confident that employers in the MUSH sector and other health and social service sectors will ultimately be looking to government to help cover these increased costs for them. We’re concerned that Bill 183 will end up creating disincentives for the employment of trades and apprenticeships in the municipalities, universities, social services, school boards and the health care sector across the province. We’re concerned that employers will be encouraged to contract out this trades work to avoid the expense and to avoid being subject to a regulation of a college. We think this runs counter to the objectives that we all shared with Mr. Armstrong in setting out to consider how to strengthen trades and apprenticeships in Ontario.
We think these issues need to be worked out in discussions with CUPE and broader sector employers as well, so that Bill 183 doesn’t run counter to its original intent but also doesn’t end up reducing the number of tradespeople and apprenticeship programs in the broader public sector. And given the huge impact that Bill 183 will have on CUPE members, we believe that CUPE Ontario must have representation on any new structure put in place to oversee apprenticeships and trades and that those representatives must be named through the Ontario Federation of Labour in concert with us. Employers in the MUSH and social services sector, we think, also need to be included.
We ask the government to undertake considerably more consultation and consideration in order to proceed with this new governance structure on programs for trades and apprenticeships in Ontario that meet the original objectives and don’t create more problems than they solve. This is our big concern.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Okay, thank you. That doesn’t leave much time for questions. I want to thank you for your presentation. If you want to stay, you’re welcome to stay this afternoon and continue on. This committee, then, will stand recessed until 2 o’clock this afternoon.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): I’ll call the meeting back to order and welcome everyone back to the Standing Committee on Justice Policy, on Bill 183, Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2009.
Our first deputation this afternoon is Colleges Ontario. If you would like to come forward and just introduce yourself so that Hansard can record who you are. I want to welcome you here and let you know that we have a 15-minute limit for speaking. Any time you don’t use up during that 15 minutes, we will ask questions.
As members of this committee will know, some individual colleges are also appearing before you today to speak in greater detail about some of the elements in the bill that they believe require further consideration.
In my presentation today, I’d like to provide a bit of an overview of the college positions and focus on some of the key issues that we think the committee should be thinking about in its deliberations about this act.
By way of background, I should tell you that Colleges Ontario is the advocacy body for the 24 colleges of applied arts and technology, and two of those, of course, are French-language colleges. Our focus is advocating for public policy changes that will help improve the quality of education and training in Ontario.
We represent all 24 publicly funded colleges. They have more than 100 campuses in 200 communities across the province, so we’re in every region of the province. We serve on a yearly basis almost half a million students between full- and part-time attendance.
Many of you, I know, will have colleges or campuses in your own ridings, so you’ll have a very keen sense of the importance of the programming and the colleges, both to your students and the economic development of your regions.
We’re also, as some of you will know, key players in the apprenticeship system. We deliver about 85% of the in-school training for apprentices in Ontario. To us, that makes perfect sense because I think it’s important to remember that apprenticeship is one of the pillars of higher education. It stands along with university education and other college training, and I think it’s really critical that we not forget that as we’re thinking about this act and its implications for apprenticeship.
Colleges are also critical to the apprenticeship system today and in the future, because we attract students from a wide range of backgrounds and all walks of life, and that isn’t always easy in apprenticeship programs, as you know. Those who would normally not go to post-secondary education often come to our institutions, where they have the support they need to succeed.
We all know, I think, from studies that have been done over the last little while, that Ontario needs more people with post-secondary education credentials in the coming years. You’ll notice just in the last week Barack Obama putting a major emphasis on community colleges and providing $12 billion over the next 10 years to support the development of more skilled workers in the United States. They’re playing catch-up with the Ontario system right now, in our system of colleges.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business has said that businesses facing labour shortages need college graduates over university graduates in the coming years by a six-to-one ratio. I think our enrolment over the past two or three years—that’s trending up at a rate of 6% and 7%—testifies to this need and students’ recognition of the value of that credential. So, if there aren’t enough skilled workers, companies won’t invest in Ontario, new jobs won’t be created, and we won’t come out with the kind of robust economic recovery we’re expecting.
I know that it seems strange to talk about labour shortages in today’s economic climate, but the reality is that we’ll be faced with some fairly significant labour shortages in the not-too-distant future, and particularly in the skilled trades that’s going to be true, where many skilled tradespeople are nearing retirement. There are only about 15% of those folks currently in their 30s and 40s, and we are not attracting young people to the trades in the kinds of numbers we need to.
As many of you will know, the Conference Board of Canada, in a study a couple of years ago, estimated that we will be short 360,000 skilled workers by 2025 and over half a million a few years later. A disproportionate amount of that shortage is in the skilled trades. So it’s really critical that in the years ahead we get more women, more under-represented groups and more groups who traditionally don’t see the trades as a viable option for them to consider and choose a skilled trade for their careers.
The public colleges view the college of trades in this regard as an important strategy to advance the skilled trades in Ontario. We’re supportive of this act, and we believe it will contribute to the modernization of the apprenticeship system.
We support the 12 key organizing principles of the college of trades and the 19 recommendations on its governance framework, scope and mandate. We also believe that the responsibility given to the college of trades to encourage women, aboriginal people and people from under-represented groups to participate in apprenticeship is a very welcome aspect of this legislation, and it’s a piece of work that really needs done.
We’re particularly pleased to hear that the college will have a chief diversity officer, because we think that’s going to be critical in moving this agenda forward. We expect that it will also be designated an agency under the French Language Services Act, which again we think is a good thing.
Promotion of the trades is another key responsibility identified for the college of trades. Again, we strongly endorse that, because developing a significant pool of skilled tradespeople is a necessity, and today, too many people don’t see this as a career option, nor do their parents. We think we have a lot of work to do to help parents and students understand the value of a career in the skilled trades.
During economic slowdowns, there’s often a decline in the number of apprenticeship registrations, and this economic slowdown hasn’t been any exception. Participating employers often can’t hire and retain apprentices due to financial constraints, but when the economy recovers, they are desperately in demand.
One of the roles of the public colleges over the last couple of years has been to work with employers closely and figure out how to bridge that gap. So, with the government and employers, we’ve been able to encourage more on-the-job apprenticeships, but also we’ve been able to deliver longer in-class components of apprenticeship so that we don’t lose students to an inability to find apprenticeship spots during a slowdown.
Colleges support the proposed legislation in many ways, and we call upon the government to fund colleges to work with employers to participate more fully in the apprenticeship system in greater numbers in the future.
First, we think it’s really important, as I mentioned, that apprenticeship training be viewed by students, families, government and the public as higher education that is just as attractive and viable as a diploma or degree education. I often think we should ask ourselves, when we make changes in the apprenticeship system, “Would we do this to the university system? Is this the kind of change that we think would be appropriate in a university or college setting?” And if it’s not, I think we have to think twice about what we do and change in the apprenticeship system if we believe it’s truly a pillar of higher education.
Ontario colleges have been working to ensure that apprenticeship programs are viewed that way and not as isolated training programs or something that stands alone and apart from post-secondary education. It needs to be considered the third pillar of post-secondary enterprise and, in considering the relative roles of the proposed college of trades, the ministry and the colleges, we need to ensure that we keep building apprenticeship training as a central part of our post-secondary system.
Secondly, we think there has to be a strong connection between the regulatory body and the education community. Without that strong connection, we think there are real risks that the training and education of the trades will not be effectively coordinated with the regulatory function. Opportunities to address major issues related to attracting students to the trade could be lost because of the absence of that connection.
With a strong connection, however, the best expertise available can be brought to bear to support the development of carefully considered policy options related to the occupations that are regulated by the college of trades.
As such, the policy-setting function of the college of trades needs broad and diverse input from all stakeholders at all times. Currently, we don’t think the legislation provides for that connection between educators and the college of trades, and that’s one of the things we’d like to address.
We think it’s important for Ontario’s colleges to be given a formal role in the college of trades to ensure that the responsiveness of apprenticeship training to the demands of employers and the provincial economy remains intact.
We have a strong track record of working effectively with all sectors of industry to establish training programs that meet employers’ needs, and we think that if the college of trades is isolated from the education sector and their expertise, we risk losing the progress we’ve made in creating an apprenticeship system that is an integral part of post-secondary education. That, in our view, contradicts the aims and goals of Reaching Higher and its goal particularly to increase apprenticeship over the years.
Finally, we think it should be recognized that the establishment of the college of trades is an ambitious initiative, no question about it, and it will have a long-term impact on the growth of both compulsory and non-compulsory trades.
The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum has reported that only one sixth of employers with tradespeople are now involved in apprenticeship, yet employer participation in the apprenticeship system is fundamental to its growth. So we must ensure that the establishment and funding of the college of trades does not negatively impact on employer participation in apprenticeship training.
The governance structure as set out in Bill 183 is of great concern to us. The legislation, we believe, must ensure that a representative of Ontario’s college system is a member of the board, because Ontario’s colleges are key stakeholders that play a vital role in sustainability, expansion and growth of the trades. This recommendation is supported by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario General Contractors Association.
Clive Thurston, president of the Ontario General Contractors Association, wrote: “We are supportive of Ontario colleges having a seat on the board of governors. As you know, the colleges deliver a significant portion of in-school training, and with this knowledge and expertise, they have a broader perspective and understanding of what’s changing in the workplace.”
We’re pleased to have the support of these associations, and we think it reflects on an employer’s view that the colleges have a place at the table that is integral to the future of the college of trades.
The governing authority of the board, we think, would be more effective with the inclusion of a representative of higher education, particularly those that are the primary delivery agents for apprenticeship and in-school education.
Inclusion of a representative from the public colleges would also ensure strong and effective linkages between the college of trades and the college system generally. So we would urge the government to designate one of the five public appointments to the board of governors as a college system seat. Many other regulatory bodies have followed this model. It’s a long-standing model. It includes the Professional Engineers Ontario, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Royal College of Dental Surgeons, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario and the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists. We think there are lots of precedents for this, and we think it’s an important change.
Our second recommendation involves curriculum. The colleges are pleased that the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities will keep an active role in the apprenticeship system, specifically through retaining the authority to designate training delivery agents and by continuing to provide funding for the in-school portion of apprenticeship training. We recognize that the college of trades has to be industry driven, so clearly, it should hold responsibility for setting the occupational standards for the trades. But the educational components of the proposed mandate, namely the design of curriculum, we think have to reside with MTCU and, through the ministry, with the organizations that actually design and deliver apprenticeship training today.
Ontario’s colleges need to maintain a significant role in the design of curriculum. It would be based obviously on the occupational standards set by the college of trades. But we have expertise in curriculum development and outcomes and also in assessment and specialized programming to help foreign-trained workers and under-represented groups overcome barriers to participating in the trades.
Ms. Linda Franklin: No problem. Industry and employee representatives are experts in the trade sector but not in curriculum development, and we think this is some place that it’s clearly important that colleges be involved.
Finally, we’d like to chat for a second about college of trades membership fees. We believe that publicly funded organizations, including educational organizations, should be exempt from membership fees, particularly if they’re required to pay fees for every trade they employ. This is going to be staggeringly expensive for the college system because we employ vast numbers of tradespeople in teaching our classes. I don’t think it’s something that was considered by the legislation; we believe it should be.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): We’ll move on to our next deputation. We have scheduled for a 2:15 deputation Laura Parsons and Zaid Mouhou. If you want to just have a seat and identify yourselves for the sake of Hansard. Again, you have 15 minutes; any time you don’t use will be apportioned amongst the three parties here for questions. Welcome.
Ms. Laura Parsons: Honourable members, we’d like to thank you for taking the time to hear us today. As we said, I’m Laura Parsons. This is Zaid Mouhou. We’re both residents of the city of Toronto. We’ve come here privately, not on behalf of anybody but ourselves. We’ve brought ourselves here today primarily to address you and to share some personal trials that we’ve had in navigating the apprenticeship system. Our hope in this is that the justice policy committee, in looking at revamping the laws relating to apprenticeship training, will hear and consider seriously the perspective of an aspiring apprentice.
Mr. Zaid Mouhou: I am Zaid Mouhou, again, and I’m originally from Morocco. I moved to Canada in late 2005, and since then I have been looking at how to become a plumber’s apprentice. Since I moved here from a small village in the desert where I didn’t have the benefit of basic public education, I enrolled in English classes. After successful completion, I started my general education at the City Adult Learning Centre. This is where I heard more about the opportunities available to people wanting to start a career in the trades. I was excited to hear from Canadians that a career in plumbing is a good one, that there is a shortage of skilled tradespeople and that I would surely get an apprenticeship if I took the initiative to find an employer.
After finishing my high school equivalency, I worked for a year. At the same time, I looked for employers willing to take a first-year apprentice in plumbing. Since I’m fairly new to Canada I don’t know any plumbers personally, so I simply called every plumber in the phone book. After not getting a very good response—most of them wanted to hire third- or fourth-year apprentices—I decided I should look into a training program of some kind. So last fall I enrolled in a year-long program at George Brown College, construction trades techniques, where I learned seven trades, one of which was plumbing.
In this course, I discovered that not only do I like plumbing, but I’m also good at it. I had a great reference from my instructor, but unfortunately he could not hire me because he already had so many apprentices. All of his friends’ plumbing companies also have a restriction on the numbers of apprentices they can hire, so there was no one for him to refer me to.
I took it upon myself to look once again for apprenticeships, so I found and applied to the joint apprenticeship training program at the plumbing union, Local 46, in the spring. I heard it was a very competitive intake process, so I made sure that I had a good application with excellent references and I studied my notes from school. I was very happy to be asked back for a testing day, but imagine my surprise when I found out that there were over 1,000 applications for the program. The mechanical aptitude test was challenging and, to be honest, I think a lot of the difficulty comes because my first language isn’t English, not because I cannot do the work or don’t possess the skills necessary to be a plumber.
I was very disappointed that day I received a letter letting me know that I wasn’t accepted into a program. I couldn’t help but wonder if I had checked the box on the application form that asked me if I knew anyone in the union, it would make a difference.
I’m still looking for an apprenticeship. I have been in contact with dozens of employers, all of whom appear either unwilling to hire a first-year apprentice or unable to because they are prohibited by legislation to have more than a certain number. This has been a very frustrating journey over the past few years, and hopefully, with the passing of new legislation, there will become room for more first-year apprentices in the system.
Ms. Laura Parsons: In our experience of trying to find Zaid an apprenticeship, some of the most frustrating things have been the lack of information, or simply contradictory information, out there about apprenticeships.
We’ve looked for almost four years since he arrived in Canada in November 2005 and we’ve only recently found out that, although he’s over the stated age limit for the program, he actually does qualify for Job Connect because he wants to do an apprenticeship. There seems to be an unwritten rule that you can, if you’re looking for an apprenticeship. So there are opportunities there, but people aren’t telling us about them. We’ve been to employment centres both here in Toronto and in Guelph, where we first lived when he first came to Canada, and only the other week did we find out that piece of information.
We’re here today because when I was speaking to the apprenticeship office downtown, they told me about this committee meeting. The woman there encouraged us and suggested that we come and talk to you and share our experiences as maybe they’re not ones that you’ve heard. According to her, they haven’t registered a new apprentice in either plumbing or HVAC in ages, and she couldn’t remember the last time she had done so. It seems to me that perhaps there are not enough incentives to hire first-year apprentices because there’s simply a lack of positions available.
Also, the reluctance of employers to take on someone new is problematic. The fact that they’re willing to take on an apprentice who has already trained under somebody else for several years, who has put in a significant amount of resources into that person, and then they’re willing to take them from another company, seems to be problematic, in my mind. Why would they bother to invest the time and training in the first years for someone if they can just grab somebody without having to bring anyone new up to speed?
Another issue that Zaid addressed briefly in his remarks was about how the union training intake is a question of who you know. In answering a question like, “Do you know anyone in the union?” on the application form, one can only wonder how a yes or no answer will be interpreted and used to accept them into the program. Did the fact that Zaid didn’t know a plumber already in the union work against him? We’ll never know, but it hardly seems like a good way to find a capable apprentice.
A final barrier we’d like to highlight for you is the ratio of journeymen to apprentices. This is also, apparently, a big obstacle for employers in taking on new apprentices. Zaid has spoken with employer upon employer who would love to take on apprentices. They have enough work for them to learn from; however, their hands are tied and they’re unable to take more on because they’ve maxed out the number of apprentices they’re allowed to take on.
Hearing the last speaker talk, it seemed to me that she was saying there is a skills shortage—she’s asserting that—from the colleges. It begs the question, in my mind, of what the problem is. If these numbers were adjusted, perhaps there would be more spaces for willing, capable workers like Zaid to start their career in the trades. Once he gets into the system, I am confident that he’ll excel, but it’s the getting in part that’s been the problem for us.
Mr. Robert Bailey: Thank you for your presentation today. And that was a couple of the questions I had about the ratio issue; I’m glad you addressed them right at the end. It’s something myself and our party have been raising, along with others, for a long time, that this ratio issue is a restriction. We’ve got another bill going through the House right now about labour mobility, and if it passes the way it’s written right now, there’ll be people who will be able to come into Ontario who train one to one in other provinces, but yet in this province there are three-to-one ratios and all kinds of numerical concoctions.
Ms. Laura Parsons: I think so. Actually, we don’t even know what the ratios are. We’ve talked to different people, and he’s heard different things from different people, so hopefully you guys know what the numbers are for the ratios. But from what we’re hearing, if the problem is that they want to take on more but their hands are tied with how many they’re allowed, they’re apparently willing and able to do it, from what they’re saying, but they’re not permitted.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Yes. The ratios vary from industry to industry, and maybe the government can provide more information with respect to what they think the college is going to do, but the college is going to be reviewing those ratios. Some of us defend the ratios and some of us believe that’s not the real problem, although that’s what the Tories say. “This is the problem, and if we solve that one, then we’ll have more and more.” I’m not quite sure that’s the real and only serious problem we face.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thank you for coming today and thank you for telling your story. Interestingly enough, my dad was a long-term member of Local 46 and I couldn’t get in either. I had to become a politician.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Two things that are included in the proposed bill that’s before us: You’ve highlighted the need for change in the ratios perhaps or for a way to examine those ratios, and what’s included in the bill is that, as a first step, the college is being asked to review the ratios as something that it does very early in its mandate—not just to review them and leave them alone, but to review them and then to review them again on a periodic basis every four years. So that’s something I’d like your opinion on, if you think that’s a good idea, obviously.
The previous speaker highlighted something else that was in the bill, and that was the installation of a chief diversity officer who makes sure that people from other countries, from other cultures, from other faiths, whatever, receive a fair shot or the same type of shot that everybody else in the country receives at this type of opportunity. I’d just like your opinions on those two points.
Ms. Laura Parsons: That second point, I think, tweaked in my mind as well. When Zaid came back from that testing day, his first thought was that, very clearly, if he’d been educated in this country and spoke the language as fluently, perhaps, or just in terms of the lingo—it’s not that he didn’t understand the questions or he doesn’t know how to do the work, it’s just that the way the tests are formatted doesn’t really appreciate people coming from different backgrounds. I know that that’s been pointed out in mechanical aptitude tests for years, that there’s a gender and a race bias in those, so I don’t know what there is to do about that—maybe in terms of weighting some kind of experience-related things for people, as opposed to just your rating on a test.
In terms of ratios, I think that’s one part of the problem. But over the years, we’ve been keeping our ears out for any discussion on the trades and getting into apprenticeship programs. We’ve heard, in popular culture—the call-in shows on CBC—about apprenticeships, and people have apparently been talking about ratios for decades, right? I don’t know if that’s going to be the resolution of the problem.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: I think what has happened is that people have been talking about the ratios for decades and there hasn’t been a proper way to address them. What people have been coming forward with is either, “Don’t change the ratios,” or, “Change them to what I want them changed to.”
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): We’ll move on to our next presentation, the Ontario Federation of Labour. Good afternoon and welcome to the committee. Just for the sake of Hansard, could you identify yourselves, because everything is recorded and put into Hansard. I’ve been asked to ask all deputants to identify themselves. I have “Irene Harris” written down here.
Ms. Irene Harris: Thank you very much. Rather than read through the whole brief or try to get through a whole series of recommendations—we’ve got copies for you—I just want to speak to three or four key items that we want to highlight with you.
The first thing I should let you know is that at the Ontario Federation of Labour, we have a very effective apprenticeship committee, which is made up of members of the building trades, the industrial sector, the public sector and teachers. We also have our OPSEU members who are involved in MTCU. So this is really a consensus document that we’ve got. It was a huge task to go through this legislation, because there is so much to it. Let me just start with the governance structure that is talked about in the bill.
At the OFL, we strongly support a governance structure for the trades in Ontario. We think it’s important to get it out from the way it is constructed within the ministry and to have a governance structure.
When this was first talked about in the province, we were able to organize a visit to Ireland and Germany. Those two countries have governance structures that have been in place for some time and are extremely effective. Both those countries are known for their training of tradespeople.
One thing that we came away with from that was a recommendation we want to share with you and ask you to support, which is that the college of trades should have a tripartite structure. The structure, from the board of directors to the committees, should be made up of representatives from the business sector, and those representatives should be appointed by the business structures we’ve got in the province; the labour representatives should be representatives of the Ontario Federation of Labour and the provincial building trades; and there should be an equal number of government representatives, who of course represent the public.
We don’t support the structure that is in the bill. We think it’s cumbersome. It also is not one that is allowing industry players who are actually involved in the trades and in apprenticeship to really take control over what is going on in those sectors. That should really happen within the college structure. Consequently, we are opposing the whole structure of the board and the way they’ve got the appointments council set up, and really urge you to consider the tripartite structure.
We think the other point we want to make is really critical: If you look at the history of what has gone on in Ontario with the trades and apprenticeship, we have two pieces of legislation, which this act of course will get rid of; we’ll have some kind of merging. But we’re very concerned with what’s happened under the Apprenticeship and Certification Act, which was brought in under the Conservative government. The Mike Harris government brought that in. It was really a bid to deregulate and get rid of the trades—really break up the trades, is what the agenda is in that legislation. We’re very disappointed that our Liberal government is not taking action to get rid of the problems that were established by the Apprenticeship and Certification Act, and they are many. What this law is doing—the current bill—is just taking the Apprenticeship and Certification Act and throwing it all in with the Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act and not really coming to grips with the damage that was done by the Conservatives under their Apprenticeship and Certification Act.
I just want to give you two examples. One is that under the Apprenticeship and Certification Act, they created a position called hot-tub installer, which is a job that used to be done by a plumber or a pipefitter. They said, “Let’s just take out a piece of that trade and create another trade out of that,” so we end up with hot-tub installers. There’s a whole list of—usually we like to read them all out because it’s actually quite amusing, some of the trades that have been created.
Another one that we want to give you an example of—which this bill is not dealing with—is the four trades that were created in call centres. If you’re a call-centre person on the phone and you get apprenticeship training, you’re in something considered a trade. The province is giving apprenticeship training money to those call-centre positions. There are four of them, and they really are not trades. There’s a whole host of trades that have been created under the Apprenticeship and Certification Act that really should not be considered trades, and what you’re doing is throwing it all into Bill 183 into that college of trades.
We asked our counterparts in Ireland and Germany just how they deal with this issue of the ACA kind of non-trades and authentic trades, and they said it wasn’t that complicated; that really there are the authentic trades, the ones that take four or five years to become really well-versed in being a tradesperson, being a journeyperson. The other, what we’re calling non-trades in the Apprenticeship and Certification Act, are referred to as certified occupations. So they said to us, “If you have hot-tub installers in Ontario, it might make sense that you want them to have some kind of certificate that says they know what they’re doing when they go and wire up that hot tub.” But really, they’re not a full trade, and you shouldn’t fool students going into the trades, or people using trades, that they’ve got a full tradesperson when they don’t. They’ve really got someone who’s in a certified occupation. Within that, if you want to have call centres and keep that as a trade, you really should be keeping it a certified occupation and not giving it the title of a trade.
We’re suggesting that this bill needs to be amended to acknowledge that there are such things as certified occupations and they are different than an authentic trade. Consequently with that, the structure of the college of trades is talking about having pillars—they’ve got the four pillars—and we’re really saying that we’re not sure that that is something that’s needed. If they are needed, then really they’re more properly construction, service and industrial pillars, and there could be a fourth pillar with all of these certified occupations in them, so that if a certified occupation were eventually to become a full-blown trade, then they could get moved over. So, we’re really asking you to give amendments that will differentiate between authentic trades and certified occupations.
We also believe that the building of the college should not hold back the important work, urgent work, that needs to be done to create new compulsory trades. There are many employers and unions who are identifying full trades that should be compulsory, and we’re recommending that there should be something here that allows that development to act more quickly and not wait for the whole college to get established.
Finally, we want to refer you to the disciplinary section of the act. We’re really disappointed that it looks like the government just took sections out of other colleges for disciplining members. It goes on for pages and pages and complicated committees, and really we’re not in favour of this. We think that there’s too much stress on disciplining individual members, and what’s really needed in dealing with trades and the college of trades is enforcement of work-site codes, regulations and standards. They’re the kinds of things that need to be enforced.
We recommend that you really get rid of that disciplinary section and put in a stronger enforcement mechanism that says that wherever trades work is going on in the province, we’ve got to make sure the codes, regulations and standards are enforced. While some of that work gets done by health and safety inspectors and within the MCTU, it would be good for the college as well to have an enforcement section within it that works with those other ministries to make sure that the rules and standards are enforced.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: I’m probably the only one who agrees with you that we should have two designations between the authentic trades and the certified occupations. I’d be curious to see whether the Liberals are going to respond to that, but that makes sense to me.
I also like the German system. That made sense to me as well. I visited Germany in 1986 and was really impressed with their training. For years, I’ve been critical of the Conservative government and the Liberal government in terms of what we’re not doing around apprenticeship programs in general and how we should do that better.
I agree with the tripartite way of structuring the governing council. I suspect I’m the only who agrees with you on that as well, but I’d be curious to see whether the Liberals are going to respond to it.
On the enforcement side, you and the coalition of compulsory trades in construction have spoken very strongly about this. I think we need to beef that up. This bill does not do it. The coalition of compulsory trades in construction makes the point that the role of inspector should extend beyond establishing fact conditions, and the role of inspector should include the duty to promote and ensure compliance—there’s a whole list of comments that they make.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thank you for your presentation. My understanding of what you’ve said to us is that you believe the college should not exist in the form that is being proposed; you’d much prefer to see a tripartite form. You aren’t opposed to the college itself; you just think that the form of the college that’s being proposed doesn’t serve—
Ms. Irene Harris: That’s right. We’re very much in support of a governance structure for trades. Our concern, when the title “college of trades” came out, was that many immediately think of the nurses’ college and the teachers’ college. We have affiliates who deal with both of those colleges, and their advice to us was that what’s really happening at the teachers’ and nurses’ colleges is that there’s less focus on the occupation and what you can do to further the occupation, and this huge amount of energy and money spent on disciplining members.
The teachers told us that two thirds of the disciplinary issues that are raised are found to be frivolous. Their advice to us: “Worry about what this college of trades is actually going to do and how it’s going to function.” We want to see that the industry players—business, labour and government—are really strengthening the trades and apprenticeship, and they’re not going to do that if it’s just borrowing that college structure.
We support the college of trades as a governance structure, but we want you to amend it to make sure that the industry players have more say in what’s going on, and that it doesn’t just become a disciplinary—
Mr. Reza Moridi: There is a provision in the proposed legislation that the college board of governors is composed of 21 members, 16 of them elected from industry reps and also from worker reps, and five basically government appointees, lay people. So I guess that serves a purpose, doesn’t it, in your view?
Ms. Irene Harris: Well, you’ve got five public members who I believe the legislation says should have nothing to do with the trades, right? That’s a real concern for us. Even the review panels that are going to decide in compulsory trades, the suggestion is that they should be people who are so arm’s-length from the trades that they’re not involved in it.
Mr. Reza Moridi: But wouldn’t you think that those players, the 21-member decision-making board—I mean eight of them coming from employers’ representatives, eight of them coming from employees’ representatives, and the five coming from the general public—
Ms. Irene Harris: The way they’ve structured it in Germany and Ireland is that those public members are actually people from government, because they’re elected to represent the public, so that’s where the public part of it comes in. Hopefully, they’d be ministry people who deal with the trades.
The other concern we’ve got is that definition of “employee”—like you say, eight employee representatives—and there’s nothing that indicates that they would be from—we want them from organized labour, of course, because our concern is when you have an employee representative on a committee and they’re from the non-union sector, they end up having to side with the employer because they have no protection to say honestly what’s on their mind. They’re put in a very difficult position.
The other thing we think the act should say is that those employer representatives and those employee representatives should come from organizations. The business sector of Ontario has organizations that should appoint their employer representatives—there has been accountability back to that—as with the employee representatives.
We’re saying they should come through the OFL for the industrial and the public sector—the building trades have their provincial building trades structure that could appoint—and they should be done by appointment so that there’s clear accountability back to those organizations, as opposed to the way the teachers and nurses do it—and hence the way this college of trades is looking at doing it—where you have individuals elected and there’s no accountability back to anybody.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): At this point, I’m going to have to step in. Thank you very much for your very thorough presentation. You’re right on time there with your answer. We’ll move on, then, to our next deputation.
Mr. Robert Bailey: That’s okay. I just wanted to compliment you on the presentation. I was quite interested in the support for the governance. I was concerned about the governance structure as well, so I liked your ideas on the tripartite structure, especially where you involve the industries which are actually employers and make sure that they, whether it’s through the chambers of commerce or the different employer groups, advocate and make sure that they are part of that, and that it’s not just weighted to the labour side. I think the only time you’ll get buy-in from the employer groups and from the rank and file, in fact, is if they know that the management side is also represented there.
Mr. Patrick Dillon: Patrick Dillon, business manager of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario. I want to thank you for the opportunity to come in front of the panel to share some views.
I would like to start out by commending Tim Armstrong, the author of the report on the expansion of compulsory certification, because in doing that, he realized that we needed more in the trades training area in the province of Ontario than just the discussion around ratios and compulsory certification; and, vis-à-vis that, we’re here talking today about a college of trades. As a tradesperson, I really think that this is a great thing if it’s done right.
I also want to comment that Mr. Whitaker, who undertook the enormous task of dealing with all training stakeholders to make recommendations on how the college should be structured, should be congratulated, because I believe that he did a pretty balanced and fair job at making the recommendations to government that bring us here today.
I have some overall comments that I’d like to make, and I would make them as a tradesperson. I get concerned sometimes that when we’re dealing with tradespersons issues, we start to hear it from people that are experts in the trades training area that have never been in a trade. It is somewhat concerning, and I say that for a number of reasons. Not that I’ve put a whole lot of weight to it, but some of my employers, some of them maybe not so friendly, think that the—they’re afraid of this college, that the building trades are going to have some amount of influence on what happens in the trades. I can understand that a little bit, but I want to give you a little bit of the history of the building trades themselves.
We really have our origin on this continent in the building trades unions, because voiceless immigrant construction workers were being killed on projects much too regularly back in the 1800s. That was really the formation of the building trades unions, and we came together collectively to increase the training to help with the safety so that these injuries and deaths wouldn’t take place as regularly as they did in our industry. You need to understand that, that there is a direct correlation between trades training and safety.
So when your decision-making goes forward here, I’m asking you, and I ask all the political parties, to please look at this as a way to improve training in the province of Ontario, because if it’s lessened, the end result out there is carnage in the workplace. It’s important that we go forward and do the right things here in creating this college.
One of the differences, and I say this—probably someone will say, “Well, he’s biased because he’s from construction,” but I make no apologies for that. But on this college structure where you have the four pillars, the construction pillar itself is, I think, distinctly different than maybe the other three pillars, in the sense that the only outcome of what we do as a construction pillar is train tradespeople. That’s the sole outcome of what construction does with training. The other three pillars train tradespeople too, but they sell widgets—whatever the manufacturing sector would be. They have more interests than just the trades training, but in construction, it is trades training. So our industry, including the employers, works together to see that the trades training is up to the standards. We believe that they can be increased, and we look to the college to try and do that.
Construction has been a leader in the field of training apprenticeships. Traditionally, we have more real apprenticeships than any other of the pillars. The composition of the board of directors calls for four representatives from each of the pillars—some people are saying “divisions,” but I call them “pillars”—plus members from the public, plus a chair.
Now, there was comment made earlier here, and I agreed with part of the comment, that apprenticeships should be seen as higher learning, and yet the same people, when they said that, said that they should get an appointment to the board because they’re from the higher learning institutions, as if the tradespeople aren’t. I think you need to be aware of those distinctions as you go forward.
There was also some comment made about how business associations—and I’m not really one to be explaining to business how they should appoint their delegates, but I do believe that people on the governing board representing business and workers ought to be people who are either real contractors or real tradespeople, and that may be an apprentice. An apprentice could be part of that. Seeing that we’re talking about the future of the trade, the apprentice would actually fill that.
From an overall perspective, the direction for action seems to be driven from the top down. We’re concerned about that. We’ve had some issues over the years with MTCU itself struggling with—you had the provincial advisory committee set up, and it looked like MTCU wasn’t listening to what the industry was saying, and that was real contractors and real tradespeople on the PACs. The direction that they were trying to feed in from the industry didn’t seem to get the outcomes that we had an expectation for, so we hope to bust some of that up through the structuring of the new college.
In some ways, we think the bill has a flaw in not including apprentices as members of the college. I can’t imagine that Mr. Armstrong thought about how you professionalize the trades but that the people who are going to be the future professionals shouldn’t be part of it. I really believe that is something that needs to be dealt with. If you don’t deal with it and we don’t deal with some of these issues around compulsory certification—if you have a young person who’s in a non-compulsory trade coming up to the end of their apprenticeship training and now they write their licence for their trade certificate, if they’re not going to be going into a compulsory trade, why would you spend $100 for a licence that there’s no enforcement for?
The issue was raised here about enforcement. We totally support that, and I’ve heard some of my—I read a little bit about some of our employers concerned about the enforcement, that it’s just going to be a mechanism for the construction unions to attack the employers. Well, you know what? I could make that case about the 401 highway. The only person who has to worry about the OPP stopping them is somebody who has an infraction with the law. They don’t very often stop me to see how I’m doing. I suggest that that’s probably the same—
Two critical functions of the college are to review compulsory certification and look at the ratios. I think that that is something that takes industry experts to be able to develop the criteria around both of those issues. They’ve become somewhat political in the last few years, but they’ve existed for many, many years. All of a sudden, there are politics around them, and none of the politics that I hear, particularly around the ratio issue, are based on, “If we had that ratio differently, we’d have better tradespeople.” You have never heard that argument; no one’s given that argument. You may have some companies that make a little more money because they can hire some cheaper labour, but you will never hear—at least I’ve never heard—an employer saying, “If I had more apprentices, I’d have better tradespeople.” That’s the function here. The outcomes of creating the college have to be attracting people to the trades and better tradespeople coming out at the end.
One of the other issues—and I’ll cut off; I’ll hopefully have some time for some questions—is, I believe this is a monumental project to start up the college of trades. I believe it’s a great thing to do, and I think for all pillars it’s a great thing to do, but I believe it’s a monumental project that can’t be done all at once; it needs to be phased. Of course, being from construction, we would volunteer and think that because for us it’s all about trades training that the phasing-in could start with construction.
Some of our construction people are putting our arguments or positions forward about starting with the compulsory trades. In some ways, that makes some sense at the college to start, because the compulsory trade tradespeople and the apprentices are already registered. So you’ve got a ground to start on and then build the non-compulsory around that, and the criteria around compulsory certification and ratios is primarily for construction anyway. In fact, I’ve been a tradesman all my life, and I could not give you—and I assume that a lot of people around this table couldn’t either— much of an argument on what the ratio should be in the service sector. I have absolutely no idea, and I’m pretty sure that the service sector have no idea what it should be in construction.
Mr. Patrick Dillon: Just one more thing, and it’s very important to us, is that I don’t think Mr. Armstrong envisaged that this whole exercise should be a money-maker for MTCU. We believe—and we want responsibility passed over to the college from MTCU so that industry has more say—that the commensurate amount of budget should come with that responsibility. I’ll leave my comments at that.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: I can be quite brief. Thank you, Pat. If you could answer three questions for me, perhaps. You were saying it was a monumental task, obviously, but you’re still maintaining it’s a step in the right direction and it’s a thing we should do at the end of the day. You had some concerns about the appointment process, if you could expand on that. And the idea was that the bills proposed do not include apprentices now. You were saying you think they should be included. Obviously, one of the fears was that the extra cost may make that onerous on somebody who is not earning a full rate of pay yet. Could you address that as well?
Mr. Patrick Dillon: Okay. The appointments process—Irene Harris talked a little bit about that as far as where they should come from. Construction workers should come from appointments from the representation from the building trades. I would suggest, looking at the employers’ side, I like sitting across the table talking about trades training with a real employer, not necessarily—and I have no disagreement with the chamber of commerce or the CFIB—but a trades contractor needs to be sitting across the table when they’re talking about their trade. So that’s one of the things I would say, and the same with the federation of labour, that the labour reps do come from the organized labour, the OFL.
The apprentices being included in the college: I think it would be absurd to start this process talking about the future of trades in the province and professionalizing the trades and not bringing the apprentice forward. You know what? There are some costs. The licence of the tradesperson is $100. An apprentice now pays $40 when they register. They should pay that $40 up front and not pay again until they become a journeyperson and then pick up the $100.
Mr. Robert Bailey: Thanks, Mr. Dillon. It’s good to see you again. My main comment—more of a comment than a question—I come from Sarnia–Lambton, and we’ve got a great relationship with the building trades and the business community there. I know you’re well aware of it. You maybe worked there a few years ago when I did in the trades, and I had a lot of connections with the trades there in my former employment.
Do you support what they talked about—and I agree with you, where you’d be sitting across the table from these appointees. Someone like Ray Curran from Curran Contractors actually knows what you’re doing and what you’re representing. So I’d support that, and the tripartite—
Mr. Patrick Dillon: I agree with bipartite at the committee level; at the governing board, I know the OFL was saying tripartite, from government, business and labour. The government is recommending people from the public. We’re not overly concerned how that works out, but one thing for sure: When you’re appointing people to that board in any pillar, nobody should be appointed who doesn’t employ apprentices.
Mr. Patrick Dillon: Yes. Part of the problem there—people won’t believe that, because they read about the ratios and all this stuff; there’s this real shortage of skilled tradespeople. In Toronto there are unemployed tradespeople, and in Hamilton and Windsor and a number of places in the province. Apprenticeship in construction is a job, and if the job doesn’t exist, you can’t get hired. So there are some issues there.
I heard them also speaking—it’s not totally new to me—about some issues with the aptitude test itself. I agree that there are issues to be dealt with there, and I think the college will help us, because there will be more tradespeople themselves dealing with them; we’ll be able to deal with those things. I personally had a guy who failed the aptitude test five times and became the best apprentice electrician in the province of Ontario when he went to trade school. But he couldn’t pass that aptitude test.
I want to tell you a little bit about Fleming College. It’s located in central Ontario, about 130 kilometres northeast of Toronto. We have two campus locations in Peterborough: the McRae campus and the Brealey campus.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Sorry. Just to be sure, I’m asking every deputant to identify themselves and their position. I know I did it already and announced it, but I just want to make sure.
Amidst those programs are a great number of skilled trades and apprenticeship programs in areas of carpentry, electrical, horticulture and cook training. We offer most of those programs through our School of Continuing Education and Skilled Trades at our McRae campus in Peterborough.
I want to share with you a little bit about how enrolment has increased in the skilled trades, something that has concerned everyone a great deal in terms of finding workers for the future. In 2006-07, we had about 310 students enrolled. As of this September we have close to 800. Just from last year we’ve had a 30% increase in enrolment in the skilled trades area.
We also work very closely with our local school boards in offering dual credit programs. One of the purposes of offering dual credit programs is to attract our young people into the trades. Again, just to show you the amount of growth from 2006-07, when we had 15 high school students, as of September we have 250.
Student learning and student success are at the heart of what we do at Fleming College, and offering hands-on applied education is very important to us. Of course, this is key to apprenticeship programs and the skilled trades. Ontario colleges deliver approximately 85% of the in-school training required for apprenticeship, and Fleming is very proud to be part of that delivery, working with our industry partners. We hire faculty and staff who are experts not only in their trade and in their sector, but key for us is that they also have knowledge of curriculum development and teaching and learning techniques to help students succeed.
We at Fleming, and colleges generally, undergo regular curriculum renewal and revisions based on input from our industry partners. They meet with us regularly to ensure that we are always up to date with changes to the industry.
We were very pleased to see in the new legislation that the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities will continue to maintain an active role in the apprenticeship system by retaining the authority to designate training delivery agents and continuing to provide funding for the in-school portion of apprenticeship training. But as a college, we are concerned that the proposed legislation does not clearly demonstrate the separate functions of establishing training programs and delivering education and training. We believe that the educational component of the proposed mandate—namely, development of program standards—should reside with the MTCU and through the ministry with the organizations that deliver apprenticeship programs.
Currently, the MTCU and the Ontario colleges work jointly in the oversight of the educational and administrative components of apprenticeship. This oversight process works very well for our college programs and will help to ensure that apprenticeship is seen as the third pillar of post-secondary education. This is a very important concept to increase the attractiveness of the skilled trades for our future students and for the future of our workforce.
The proposed bill is not clear regarding who develops curriculum standards, and it could be interpreted that this function is transferred to the new college of trades. If this is the government’s intent, it would have serious and, I think, negative repercussions on the post-secondary system and the future of apprenticeship training. I’m not aware of any other regulatory body in Ontario that sets curriculum standards or that designs programs that prepare new entrants to a profession or an occupation. As an example, the college of teachers does not develop curriculum. This is retained by the ministry.
It is important that the MTCU be given oversight and retain the development of curriculum standards with Ontario’s colleges. Not to do so, I believe, would weaken the academic portion of apprenticeship. It’s very important that the legislation therefore be clear in this regard so that roles are clearly defined and there is no room for misinterpretation.
We believe, however, that the college of trades has an important role in setting occupational standards. However, the main responsibility to design the curriculum based upon these occupational standards that have been approved by the college of trades needs to be retained by Ontario’s colleges. We at the college believe that we have the expertise in curriculum development, in setting learning outcomes and in assessing student performance in meeting these outcomes. Additionally, we have expertise in assisting foreign-trained workers as well as under-represented groups to overcome the barriers to participating in trades, and we’re able to customize programs and provide the necessary learning and support services to help our students succeed.
Another issue that is important to our colleges and to colleges generally is the representation on the trade and divisional boards. The bill currently allows for four representatives from each of the trade and divisional boards, and, under section 20, the trade boards would exercise many of the same functions that the PACs and ICs provide now; for example, training standards, curriculum standards and examination of trades. Colleges generally have representation in these areas in an advisory capacity, and I think that is very, very helpful in terms of making sure that industry, as well as the educational institutions that provide the in-school training, work well together.
Industry and employee representatives on these advisory committees and on the trade and divisional boards are experts in the trades and in the sector, but they’re not necessarily experts in designing learning outcomes, course content and teaching methodology.
Another reason for MTCU having this responsibility is the funding implications if the college of trades is responsible for setting curriculum standards. We believe the significant risk here is that the curriculum requirements will impose obligations that exceed the funding allocated by the government, which could put the ministry in a place of having to fund curriculum requirements that fall outside of the funding envelope. As a result, it’s important that MTCU maintain a coordinating role in the curriculum development process to ensure that there is coordination between the curriculum and the funding decisions.
Colleges, we believe, play a critical role in that they provide 85% of the in-school training of apprentices. So we believe that college representation on the trade and divisional boards will continue to ensure the important and ongoing relationship with our industry partners.
Colleges can and want to continue to deliver apprenticeship programs that offer our students what they need to be successful, and Fleming College looks forward to working with the college of trades in modernizing the apprenticeship system and promoting the trades. Thank you for listening.
Mr. Robert Bailey: Thank you for the presentation today. I was looking at your amendments at the back. We won’t have time to go through them all, but of the five amendments there, if you could only have one, what would, in your opinion, be the most important amendment that we could make?
Ms. Rachael Donovan: From a college system perspective, the most important amendment would be representation on the governing board. From an individual college perspective, in all of our regions, having MTCU maintain responsibility for setting program standards, working with the colleges—a close second.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Yes, my sense is that the colleges will continue to have control of the curriculum, whether it’s through the ministry or through the college. That’s my sense; maybe the Liberals know better. But what is your current connection in terms of what you offer by way of the curriculum and what is given in the field?
By the way, from the Auditor General, we know that they do well in the field training, but the in-school component, which is 20% or less, they don’t do as well. Do you have a better connection now with the ministry that you think you might not have with the college?
Ms. Rachael Donovan: Through the ministry right now, program standards are set. These program standards are set with the colleges working with the ministry. The important thing here is that the colleges have the curriculum development and learning outcome development expertise, so that relationship works very, very well. We’re concerned that we won’t have the same relationship with the college of trades.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Yes, I understand that, but at the moment there’s a problem. Students who are in an apprenticeship program do well in the field training; they do poorly in the education component. That’s what the Auditor General revealed. I’m concerned about that, and I’m not sure whether that’s going to change whether it stays the same or whether it moves to the college of trades.
Does that worry you? Do you have any explanation for that? Do you think there’s something else we should be doing? Your concern doesn’t seem to worry me as much as how something is going on, and I don’t know whether we have a connection to the field at the present moment to fix that current problem that we’ve got.
Ms. Rachael Donovan: It depends on the very nature of the colleges and the relationship they have with industry. I think that is really critical. The closer a relationship you have with industry in looking at what are the barriers in terms of students doing well in the field but not doing well in school is something that needs to be examined. We as a college, as most colleges are, are very interested in improving that success rate.
Mr. Jeff Leal: It’s very delightful for me to welcome Rachael from Peterborough today. I know that Fleming has a standard of excellence both in the field and in the classroom when it comes to training apprentices and their great relationship with manufacturers and businesses in Peterborough.
Rachael, if you could comment: You have a really interesting project that’s moving forward to help apprenticeship training in the province of Ontario called the Kawartha Skilled Trades Institute. Could you take a moment just to talk about that? Because anybody from Peterborough is very proud about this initiative.
Ms. Rachael Donovan: Yes, I’m delighted. The project is something I have been working on. What we are looking to develop is a Kawartha Skilled Trades Institute where the focus is on bringing school, college and work together in one facility to help train future skilled workers for our province and for our country.
One of the most exciting aspects of this new skilled trades centre is the relationship that we have with our school boards as well as with our industry partners, particularly in the whole construction area. What we see happening is high school students coming into the facility, working with our college students and working with the industry people who may be there for retraining, all working together so that the students will be able to see a pathway for themselves, from high school to college into the work world.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): We’ll move on to our next deputation. Although it says, “To be confirmed,” we have our 4:45 appointment here. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is present. I’d like to welcome you to our committee. If you could kindly identify yourselves for the record. You have 15 minutes. Any time not used will be used up—
Mr. Barry Stevens: I’m Barry Stevens, and I represent the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in the First District office, which covers all of Canada. I’m the political action media strategist. Don’t be worried about that name; it’s like titles in anything else, right? In conjunction with that, I’m also the president of Local 353 here in Toronto, which covers the greater Toronto area for the electricians. My colleague here is Steve Martin, who is a table officer with IBEW Local 353 and active within apprenticeship training.
I thank you for having me here and allowing me to speak. The reason I brought Steve with me is because my job here today is to represent the IBEW international office, and Steve can answer local questions.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers represents approximately 30,000 workers in Ontario, covering occupations such as electricians, linemen, utility workers, railway workers, manufacturing, pulp and paper mill workers, public sector workers and many other occupations. The IBEW represents more registered apprentices than any other single company or organization. In fact, our Toronto construction Local 353 and the Greater Toronto Electrical Contractors Association have more apprentices being jointly trained than any other group in Canada. That’s 1,600 to 1,800 apprentices at any given time. I should add the completion rate for those apprenticeships: Well over 95% of apprentices that are assigned to us complete their apprenticeships.
After reviewing Bill 183, reading Kevin Whitaker’s report—which was very good—and digesting 184 pages of Tim Armstrong’s report, which I’m sure all of you have gone through, a number of concerns over how the proposed college of trades would be structured and implemented were brought to our attention.
To further gain knowledge on this important change in direction by the government, we began dialogue with other affiliated labour organizations. We journeyed to Europe with the Ontario Federation of Labour and other interested unions to study how they regulated, trained and enforced trades in Germany, Ireland and England. The amount of time and co-operative effort from our union and others has strengthened our belief that, if done properly, the college of trades could have a positive influence on the training and the economy of Ontario.
We also endorse the basic premise of the Armstrong report, which was to bring respect, dignity and professionalism to the trades and their occupations. However, we have found what we believe to be some structural problems in the implementation of Bill 183, which should be corrected. When constructing a building, laying a strong foundation is important to the structural integrity of the project. It should be the same in building a college of trades; the foundation must be rock-solid.
For the most part we support the position of the OFL, because we do represent industrial workers also, and their major concerns. We also support the position of the Ontario provincial building trades, which will be delivering a written report once it’s written. Next week, you will hear from the coalition of trades in the construction industry; it’s coming forward next week also. On behalf of the construction workers, whom we also represent, we will support their position. There is a number of positions that we’re supporting; we think they all go together.
Enforcement: There is very little reason for creating the college of trades if there is no increased protection for licensed trades. The Armstrong report recommended enhanced enforcement. What would be the point of having all the workers of regulated trades belonging to the college if unlicensed, untrained workers continued to poach jobs in what is supposed to be a regulated market? To ask a worker/member to pay for the privilege of belonging and exposing themselves to a complaint process while someone who doesn’t belong is not under the threat of the same scrutiny is unfair.
We think that in the regulated trades, no one should be allowed to perform licensed work without being completely qualified. A mechanism must be developed to ensure that this happens. It could be as simple as hiring more inspectors to go out and check licences or allowing trade inspectors, like hydro inspectors, to check for certification of the worker who installed the project, not just the work itself, to make sure of that.
On apprentices, we believe that the apprentices should be part of the college. To attract younger people to trade occupations, the college is going to be representing respect and an ongoing learning ability. This is an important message for new tradespeople to embrace. If you want young people to come into the trades, there’s nothing like having a college and some respect for it. If you want professionalism, it has to be ingrained early in their careers.
It is also important for apprentices to belong so that they can directly represent themselves if any changes to regulations that may affect them, such as ratios, are brought into play. I think their voice needs to be heard—and they can do that within the college.
Apprenticeship sponsorship should not be available to private institutions. It is important that apprenticeship in trades not become a dumping ground for the disenfranchised worker. If that happens, it would destroy the intent of the Armstrong report, which is to raise the level of professionalism in the trades.
There are two different types of apprentices: Some are from certified trades, and others represent non-certified trades. The college needs to promote authentic apprenticeships. Clearly, there is not a clear definition of what an apprenticeship represents. An apprenticeship should be defined, as it has been for many years, as a mix of both working under a professional journeyperson’s direction, accompanied by periodic educational training. We do that at 353. In conjunction with sending people to college, we have Saturday classes for our students, and that’s why we get the high success rate. Without that, they’d go to college and probably wouldn’t do as well.
Phasing in of the college: There have been suggestions of phasing in the different sectors of the college. The IBEW thinks this makes sense. Look at it as an opportunity to implement the new process in a controlled environment. The construction sector may be the most complicated sector in the proposed college. There is a time-honoured saying in the building trades: “Measure twice and cut once.” What it means is, take your time and get it right the first time. The college should apply this philosophy to its implementation procedure.
Building from the bottom up: Trade committees need the ability to make decisions that affect their concerns. Any issues at the trade level are made on a panel consisting of representation from all those concerned, contractors and unionized workers alike. The IBEW sees the governing board as a body that would implement the wishes of the trade committees.
Consideration should be given as to who nominates members to the variety of boards within the college. An example would be in construction, as Pat Dillon said, where the nominations should come from the provincial building trades. We think that makes sense.
The college, to succeed, needs to have representation from as large a base as possible. To do this, the college should endorse card-based certification for all workers. Having workers outside of the college undermining members who are already under scrutiny is an unfair advantage. The government should consider bringing fairness to the workplace.
The college must be designed to protect the members from many of the conflicts the government will encounter when the agreement on internal trade is enacted, particularly section 8 and regulations around mobility. These two bills are very complicated, and one will affect the other, and I don’t think that most people are spending the time to look at that problem. It’s coming forward. I’ll be down here for that one too, I imagine.
In conclusion, I would like to say that Bill 183 has the ability to make an important contribution to the lives of working people in Ontario. As mentioned earlier, the IBEW feels that a phased-in approach best serves all those involved. We look forward to working in conjunction with the college and making Ontario a better place for working people.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Thank you, Barry. I think the OFL makes the same point you’re making. They say that whereas the trades qualification in the apprenticeship act clearly establishes that an apprenticeship program must be a minimum of two years, Bill 183 makes no such provision. As Bill 183 is presently written, any program can be classified as an apprenticeship program, regardless of whether such a program takes weeks or six years. That’s what you were speaking to. Is that correct?
Mr. Barry Stevens: Yes. The electricians, we have, pretty well—what we think in the IBEW—a good program, particularly at 353. But there are other occupations within our industry that still require skill and still require apprenticeship training, and that’s what we’re trying to do. To bring that professionalism, we want some standard of training, and that’s where we agree with the OFL.
Mr. Barry Stevens: No, it doesn’t have it at the moment. I think the apprenticeships should be long, but I’m somewhat concerned around the college because—at this time, my main concern is who forms the committees and how it works, from the bottom up or top town? If it’s top down, I’m worried at the fact that—
Mr. Rosario Marchese: I agree with you. The point about having apprentices represent is one thing. The other point about whether the college should have the authority to register apprentices is a separate point. At the moment, that stays with the ministry; I’m not quite sure why that is so. I believe the college should have the authority to register apprentices and to revoke their registration. And you—
Mr. Barry Stevens: No, no. I’m not saying that the college—the part that I’m having a problem in is around the revoking of apprentices. I’m not worried about them having them registered within. Again, the part that worries me as much as it does the OFL is the disciplinary procedure. If an apprenticeship could be revoked on a mere complaint, that’s where our problem lies.
We haven’t got a clear standing on that, I have to admit, but I do want them in and I want them registered to that, and the college should look after them. It’s around the disciplinary part where I’m having the problem, because as Pat said, we’d hate for someone who wrote the test five times, got in and is the best electrician in the world come up against somebody who has it in for him and puts in a false complaint that they can’t really stand up against, and they’re removed just because somebody made a decision. That’s not right and that’s what concerns us.
You concentrated a little bit on the investigation and on the enforcement proposals that are contained within the bill. Our understanding is that the MOL would be involved, the TSSA, the ASA would be involved, and the intent is to endow the college with the ability to cause investigations and enforcement to happen. I guess I’m having a little bit of a difficult time understanding where the concern really lies so we can zero in on it.
Mr. Barry Stevens: We think it needs to be enhanced. As it stands right now, there are huge amounts of workers in construction, in the regulated trades, who have no certification. They aren’t even registered apprentices; they are basically helpers on the job, doing whatever task is available—and some of them on jobs, where the contractor undertakes many disciplines, these workers just cross from—one minute they’re doing electrical work, the next minute they’re helping the plumber, with no licence and no training towards that trade.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: You also talked about a phased approach. Other people have come forward, and I think the bill proposes to ask the college to deal with ratios and compulsory certification as a priority. Can you explain how the phasing might affect the ability to deal with those two important issues early?
We think construction is complicated enough by itself, but to try to do all the pillars at the same time is not the way to go. We think if you phase it in, pay attention to the one pillar, get it done right and deal with the problems of—ratios are something we can deal with further down the road. It’s putting the panels together, getting the structure and having everybody understand how it’s going to work—because we’re not always going to be in agreement. That’s an impossible world. I mean, everybody’s entitled to their opinion. We want to make sure that the structure’s there, that we can deal internally with those differences of opinion and come to a consensus.
If there’s anybody who knows about negotiation, it’s construction unions. We live and die by them, so we’re good at negotiating and not always getting our own way. Our employers make money, believe me.
Everyone has talked about a number of these issues. It’s so repetitive. I’d like to zero in on the one that I don’t think anybody brought up today, about the other bill that’s going to be coming up later on. I’ve been dealing with my local unions back home, and they’re quite concerned about both this and the other one.
Explain it to me in the short time you do have. Down the road, when people come from, say, British Columbia—I understand there’s a different training regimen there, and they’ll be coming into Ontario, as I understand it—how’s an electrician who’s trained, say, in Sarnia or Toronto, who’s had to spend a certain amount of time to become qualified and trained, going to be absorbed into your local? Is that the nut we’re going to crack later on?
Mr. Barry Stevens: Boy, we’re going to have to do dinner over this one, but I’ll try to be short. The Agreement on Internal Trade is complicated, and the fact that all the provinces—it’s been on the table for a while, but now the labour mobility stuff is coming forward and it’s being moved to the front burner—it’s been dormant for a while—and all the governments, with some pressure from the federal government, have been trying to get on board with this.
The mobility issue is that two provinces with the—it’s no problem where you have two red seal provinces, because those electricians will all match the red seal, and that’s not a problem. But in a province that has, let’s say, a passing grade of 50%, if they bring workers in and you’ve signed the deal, it’s the lowest common denominator. So in effect, what happens is we’re building the college of trades to raise the standards of the workers within the whole thing, and yet at the same time, the Agreement on Internal Trade will be saying the lowest common denominator on labour mobility between those occupations. They contradict each other somewhat.
I think we’re going to have a little problem when that comes forward. I don’t have the answer yet. I’ve been wrestling with it. The provinces that I represent in the west, particularly Alberta and BC, have the TILMA agreement, which is beyond that because BC has deregulated trades and pulled them apart in pieces. They are going to be a problematic province if that happens.
Mr. Piero Cherubini: Good afternoon, Mr. Chair. My name is Piero Cherubini and I’m the dean of apprenticeship training at Mohawk College. I’m going to restrict my comments to my written notes, maybe skip over some things that have been said before and leave some time for questions because I’ve found, just from listening in the last few minutes, that seems to be the most interesting part of the presentations here.
I’d like to begin by just telling you a little bit about Mohawk College. We’re in Hamilton. We have four campuses. We annually serve about 10,500 full-time students and 4,000 apprentices, as well as 5,000 adult learners and 42,000 CE or continuing education registrants. We offer over 120 programs in engineering technology, health sciences, human services, business, and arts and communications, and have apprenticeships in just about all of those faculties. We are the largest trainer of apprentices in this province and, through some help from the government, we recently invested $29 million into our new campus in Stoney Creek to build up our capacity to deliver apprenticeship training.
We have strong partnerships with business and industry, and with the many unions aligned to our trades and apprenticeship programs. At Mohawk, we believe college, university and apprenticeship constitute the three pillars of post-secondary education. When these three pillars are supported, they contribute to the economic strength and prosperity of our communities and province.
In our region, we are reaching people who otherwise would not have the benefit of higher education. We all know that for our province to be globally competitive, we must have more people with post-secondary credentials. Our student population ranges from those coming directly from high school to university grads looking for practical skills and to recently laid-off workers.
With the economy in transition, particularly in the steel industry in our region, it’s critical that we remain on the cutting edge and provide the necessary training our learners need to succeed. This is one reason and the main reason that we work closely with industry to ensure that our programs respond to industry needs.
Because we have a strong college system, we have the opportunity to reach that proportion of our population that doesn’t have post-secondary credentials. We believe the future of education and the demand for skilled workers will require us to improve the apprenticeship system in this province.
As you know, apprenticeship is an industry-based learning system that combines job experience, technical training and theory. Ontario’s colleges work in partnership with employers to deliver the in-school portion of apprenticeship training.
I know that today you’ve already heard from Colleges Ontario, the advocacy association for Ontario’s 24 publicly funded colleges, and from my colleague at Sir Sanford Fleming. So in the interests of time, I’m going to focus on what we believe are the most critical recommendations.
Our primary concern is the proposed governance structure of the college of trades. Under section 12, the proposed bill sets out the governance model. This section creates a board of governors to manage and administer the affairs of the college of trades.
The board would have 21 members, made up of four members from each of the construction, motive power, industrial and service sectors. Two of the members from each of the sectors would be employee reps and two would be employer representatives. Five members would be appointed to represent the public. It’s troublesome that Ontario’s public colleges do not have a seat on this board of governors.
In 2007-08, the colleges of applied arts and technology were allocated approximately 85% of the total seat purchases in the province. The colleges’ proportion of total provincial apprenticeship seats has increased recently.
As a major contributor to the success of the apprenticeship system, it’s puzzling that we would not be given a designated seat on this board. We have critical knowledge and expertise that will only serve to strengthen the apprenticeship system. We bring a broader perspective and understanding of what’s changing in the workplace.
Without the voice of a major contributor to the apprenticeship system, the college of trades will not be successful in strengthening the apprenticeship system. As the primary delivery agent for apprenticeship in-school training, it’s incumbent upon the government to recognize and support this role. The fact that college educators are not represented on the board of governors is a major oversight and would negatively impact on the functioning of the board.
As the board of governors will direct and supervise the work of the college on all significant broad policy questions, there needs to be a designated seat for a public college representative. We strongly urge this committee to designate an additional seat for a public college representative. Another option would be to consider one of the two existing seats that were dedicated to the public to be designated to the college system.
There are many examples of other regulatory bodies that have recognized the important role of educators and have designated representatives from the education sector on their governing bodies. Some of these include the Professional Engineers of Ontario, the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons, Royal College of Dental Surgeons, chartered accountants, and certified engineering technicians and technologists. In fact, some of these bodies have two board seats strictly for individuals from the educational institutions.
Mohawk College works very closely with our community, including the many unions that strengthen our labour force regionally. We would suggest that the voices of organized labour, large corporations and education might be balanced by participation by small and medium-sized business, who may not have the resources to participate with government at the same rate as larger, organized sectors.
We would support that board membership be truly representative and seats be reserved for small and medium-sized business as well as organized and non-organized membership in all four of the construction, service, motive power and industrial trades sectors. We believe this will help to enable the work of the board to focus on training and certification issues.
A third area of concern for us relates to the curriculum development. As my colleague from Sir Sanford Fleming spoke to this earlier, the proposed bill could be interpreted as the curriculum standards function is now moved to the college of trades because it does not clearly state where this function resides.
In order to modernize apprenticeship training in this province, curriculum needs to be reviewed and revised in a timelier manner than is MTCU’s current practice. Maintaining relevant and current curriculum standards is a staple of Ontario colleges. It is our core business, and frankly, we do a good job at working with industry to make sure our students graduate with skills required in the workplace.
The main responsibility to design curriculum, based upon the occupational standards as approved by the college of trades must include Ontario’s colleges. Colleges have been successfully preparing students for the workforce for over 40 years and have the knowledge and expertise necessary to improve Ontario’s apprenticeship system. Inclusion of Ontario college representatives will ensure strong and effective linkages between the college of trades and Ontario’s 24 public colleges.
In closing, we are supportive of Bill 183 and strongly recommend that our proposed changes are adopted by this committee. I believe the recommendations will make the legislation stronger and improve the apprenticeship system in Ontario. Thank you.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thank you very much for your presentation. I have a couple of questions based on some of the suggestions you’ve made. The college has a balance provision included in its mandate. How would you adjust that balance provision to make sure that the concerns you’re bringing forward are addressed? Also, I think there’s been a variety of opinions on this issue, but what’s been a common thread from all sides is that this is a complex issue. Some people have even said it’s so complex it should be phased. You wouldn’t want to do something that was unnecessary, so could you make the case again why it should be necessary to have a dedicated seat from the educational sector—and a complex issue, because obviously you don’t want to make it more complex if it’s not necessary.
Mr. Piero Cherubini: Correct. Well, I guess in our opinion, 20% of apprenticeship training in the way it’s delivered now is theoretical or in-school-based. That’s what we do; that’s what we do well. The public colleges now deliver almost 90% of the in-school portion of the training in the province, so it’s really our strong belief and based on practices of other boards of a similar nature that we would be at that table. I think our voice will add some value to the debate and discussions that are going on at the college.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Just so I’m clear, right now there are five appointees who would be members of the public. You’re saying it should be five plus one from the educational sector or do you get one of the five?
Mr. Rosario Marchese: I suspect the government is going to support the current structure and it’s not going to change it the way the OFL is suggesting, which I would have preferred. But I think you should be one of the five, so I’m assuming the government’s going to make sure that you will be one of the five—
The OFL says that we should change the name, and I happen to agree. They suggest Ontario trades and occupations standards board, because at the moment there’s a confusion with existing professional colleges. In fact, it sounds like it could be a college called the college of trades, which might sound appealing to you, I suppose, but what do you think of the name change?
Mr. Piero Cherubini: To be honest with you, I hadn’t given it any thought. When the notion was first announced, I’ll tell you, many people in our school who aren’t familiar with what we do in apprenticeship thought this was going to be a new college. So just from that, I would say that there is a potential of some misinterpretation of the name. If it deserves a better name, then yes.
“Our position is in keeping with the definition of apprenticeship as being at least two years in length, of which 80% to 90% consists of on-the-job learning under the supervision of qualified journeypersons and only 10% to 20% consists of in-class. For this reason, the Ontario Federation of Labour believes that only employers and joint apprenticeship committees should have the right to sponsor apprentices and opposes any move that would allow Ontario colleges of applied arts and technology to sponsor apprentices. If public or private colleges are allowed to sponsor apprentices, there will be a genuine risk that students would be recruited into high-tuition fee-based ‘apprenticeship programs’ that act as a revenue stream”—and I understand why you might do that, given the underfunding over the last 15 years—“by front-loading the in-class training, and then leaving it to the program graduates to find—or not find—employment.” Your comment?
Mr. Piero Cherubini: We’ve had that debate at various college committees and levels. I can’t speak for every college, but I can tell you that we’ve never taken the position that we should be registering or sponsoring apprentices at any committees I’ve been on.
Mr. Piero Cherubini: I know you’re going to tell me that my time is up; could I just take a moment? Mr. Marchese, you asked a question earlier around the failure rate. Could I have 30 seconds to address that, because I’m a little bit familiar with the auditor’s report on that particular section?
Mr. Piero Cherubini: —completion rates; that’s an important distinction, because the success rate of apprentices when they’re attending the in-school portion of their training is about 90%, so apprentices do well when they come to school. The challenge around completion rates—I think he quoted a 50% pass rate—was on the C of Q exam, the final certification exam when they’re finished their in-school and on-the-job training. I think that’s sort of what he was pointing to in terms of some issues in the system. I just wanted to make sure that—
Mr. Piero Cherubini: We will. Some other jurisdictions and provinces allow a little bit extra time in the in-school portion on their last level of training to do a little bit of preparation for their C of Q. That’s one thing. We have many other ideas, but that might be one.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): The next presentation is the Ontario Industrial and Finishing Skills Centre. Good afternoon and welcome. You know it’s 15 minutes. Any time you don’t use in your presentation I’m sure will be filled with questions from members of the committee. If you could identify yourself for Hansard.
Mr. Mike Carter: My name is Mike Carter. I’m training director of the Ontario Industrial and Finishing Skills Centre. I’ve held the position for many years, and I’m reasonably well knowledgeable about the many issues associated with the trades, apprenticeship and the entire process starting from the compulsory certification review through the fine work that was done by Kevin Whitaker.
With me today—I thought it may be appropriate for you folks to be exposed to a real apprentice. Touch him—he’s real, and he’s working in the trades, and luckily he volunteered this afternoon at about 1 o’clock to come here and present himself to you folks. The gentleman’s name is Fernando Rodrigues. He’s a glazier from Mississauga, and he’s in his first year of apprenticeship. So, if you have questions of him, please understand that he doesn’t do this professionally, but I do thank him for agreeing to come here and meet you folks.
Who are we, and whom do we represent? We train and interact with market participants, employers, tradespeople, apprentices and their representatives in the three construction trades of commercial, institutional and residential painter; industrial painter; and architectural glass and metal technician, aka glazier—they are the people who put all the glass on all the beautiful buildings. We serve hundreds of painter and glazier apprentices and thousands of painter and glazier journeypeople across the province. The OIFSC is an industry-owned and -operated organization with locations in Toronto, Ottawa and Ancaster, and we receive substantial support and leadership from the industries we serve. We do have a unique position in that we are perhaps one of the few TDAs that actually operate in various locations across the province, so we do have that additional perspective. We are the sole TDA for apprentices in our trades in Ontario, and as such we train both unionized and non-unionized apprentices—equally well, we hope and believe.
We are full participants in all the training programs associated with the trades—that includes pre-apprenticeship and WIST—and we faithfully use these programs, as is the intent from MTCU, to attract non-traditional persons into the trades. We’ve actually been fairly successful in doing that.
Additional to our apprenticeship and trades training obligations, we are full participants in the multiple PACs, LACs and various other committees across the province, almost exclusively in a resource role, and we think that is a very effective role for a training institution.
By formal association, we work very closely with the following organizations: the Ontario Painting Contractors Association, OPCA; the Architectural Glass and Metal Contractors’ Association, AGMCA; and the Ontario council of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, IUPAT.
These organizations and ourselves have presented common ideas and recommendations via common reports to both the compulsory trades certification review and the college of trades review. For both reviews, we submitted formal reports, made formal presentations and attended various formal meetings. Unfortunately, due to previous commitments, my counterparts who have sat with me at other presentations were not able to be here today.
Our objective today is to actually provide you with some of our interpretation and assessment of Bill 183 and to make specific recommendations for changes to specific parts of the bill, and to engage you folks however you feel inclined for the time we have remaining.
Our overview statement: Previous to the publication of Bill 183, we were highly supportive of the college of trades concept and were very actively engaged through the process. With the publication of Bill 183, while our enthusiasm is still very much for the college of trades, it has been tempered, hopefully only temporarily, by a few issues that we believe are in need of improvement. We believe that Bill 183 does a commendable job in articulating a college that will have the scale and scope, with the appropriate responsibilities and authority, to be successful over the long term.
To our specific points of interest: We will primarily focus on two issues, the primary issue being the role of apprentices within the college of trades, and the other being the role of the divisional boards and trade boards within the college of trades. There is a range of issues that could be commented on, but I think those are the two most important, from our perspective, that we would like to address.
As I heard and read the debates in the Legislature, and from my participation in the college of trades review, the compulsory certification review and various committees I sit on, and the ongoing interaction I have with apprentices and the employers and journeypeople with whom they work, I was expecting that Bill 183 would be, so to speak, a coming-out party for all apprentices in the province.
As you read Bill 183, you first come to section 11, which provides a very good description of the purpose of the college of trades. The description indicates that, with few exceptions, it has what I would consider to be a reasonably full scope of responsibility and authority, and the various aspects that are identified in section 11 go to the heart of what the college of trades should be.
To my surprise, apprentices were not explicitly identified as being members of the college of trades. This exclusion is puzzling, to say the least, and, in my opinion, presents multiple and potentially very substantial and consequential risks, and could, depending upon how the future unfolds, prove detrimental to apprentices, journeypeople, employers and ultimately the markets they operate in.
We believe that apprentices actually should be members of the college of trades for many reasons, and their inclusion should formally be part of Bill 183. While Bill 183 certainly enables their inclusion in future, we believe, based on our knowledge and understanding of various issues of importance, that their inclusion in the bill is the most, and truly only, appropriate route to take.
Apprentices are full and consequential market participants from the time they sign their contracts of apprenticeship and the first day they go to work. This is a very simple, yet very powerful, reality that cannot be denied. They fill a very substantial role to their employers, who employ them; they fill a substantial economic role in the markets they participate in. The apprentices gain a broad range of economic and other benefits from their participation in these markets, in their trades and as apprentices. This journey from a day-one apprentice and all that goes with it to their gaining of full-status journeyperson is an important, formal and structured journey by and between full participants of the trade, a company and an industry. This journey also tends to be long, typically stretching over three to five years.
This full and substantial market participation reality differentiates apprentices from prospective and entry-level participants in other environments. I have just copied something from the College of Teachers which basically defines how you become a teacher. Certification of teachers: You go to post-secondary school for three years, you complete a one-year acceptable teacher education program, and then you apply to the college for certification—a very different process. To become a teacher, you are basically not part of the industry, you are not part of the market, and you are not part of the profession until you have completed all of your education, unlike apprentices who from day one are actually very full and formal participants of the marketplace.
A quick review of the statistics on apprentices: The tradespeople, I believe, indicate there are about 115,000 apprentices in the province and maybe 450,000 to 500,000 journeypersons. They are a very substantial part of the marketplace and should not be denied their proper recognition within Bill 183. The process leading to Bill 183 provided us no substantial expectation of the probability that they would actually not be formally part of Bill 183.
From Tim Armstrong’s report on compulsory certification on page 4, his recommendation is that, “Membership should include all apprentices and journeypersons, covered by the TQAA and ACA, as well as employer stakeholders.”
A notice of consultation dated October 24, 2008, stated, “On September 16, 2008, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities announced the intention of the government of Ontario to establish a ‘college of trades.’ In taking this step, the government has adopted the recommendations made by Tim Armstrong in his report dealing with the expansion of compulsory trade certification.”
Finally, in Kevin Whitaker’s college of trades report, he says on page 73, “It is recommended that college of trades membership will include all who work in the trades and will begin by including all journeypersons and all employers of apprentices and journeypersons.” This recommendation made by Kevin Whittaker suggested very strongly to us that while perhaps they would not be initially part of the college of trades, potentially for implementation issues and potentially for a range of issues that are not fully described in his report, it made a very explicit recommendation that all workers would be included in the college of trades.
The failure to formally include apprentices in Bill 183 creates a number of problems, one being it substitutes certainty for uncertainty: Without their inclusion, there’s uncertainty whether they ever actually will be included. It substitutes less risk for more risk: Without inclusion, the risk is present that their membership, if it is eventually gained, will not be in a form or manner as could be so properly constructed today with the body of knowledge that has been accumulated to this point. It is a differentiation that will forever be present. This differentiation may prove in future to be inconsequential, it may prove to be a positive thing, or it may prove to be a negative thing, but it will forever be a point of differentiation.
It also creates some puzzling disconnects. For instance, does the promotion of the importance of apprenticeship by the college of trades become compromised by their explicit absence from the college of trades? I suggest that it does.
Member-driven organizations exist primarily and in large part to benefit their members, and as the college will be a large, complex organization with substantial differences between existing members that will require substantial to perhaps all-encompassing attention, it may be that apprentices will never rise to the level of proper concern.
As formal members within Bill 183, I believe they will be availed all their appropriate rights and benefits. Consequently, we would recommend that apprentices be formally recognized as members of the college of trades in Bill 183. If apprentices are best implemented into the college via a phasing-in process, that would be acceptable, but it should actually be well articulated. That is my main point.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): There are about two minutes left, so you can spend the two minutes still presenting, or we’d have that two minutes to use for questions. It’s up to you if you want a few questions.
Mr. Mike Carter: I will quickly go on to two other issues: divisional boards and trade boards. There is, within the Bill 183 legislation, a restriction on the number of participants in both the divisional boards and trade boards. That creates two problems. I work on a number of PACs and LACs where the membership is 10 and 10 and 12. These are well-functioning committees. The problem you run into when you restrict membership on those boards to four is that it not only restricts the ability of broad groups of participants to have a proper voice, but it actually also creates risks of various measures related to that: Proper voices aren’t heard, there are operational issues, I suspect quorum becomes an issue, but there is a broad range of issues that come into play. For smaller trades, it actually may be a stretch to find four members who would ever sit on one of those boards, but I wouldn’t suspect that that is what is present on a large number of boards.
The same issue comes into play with the divisional boards: If you restrict those boards to five persons, four of whom I think are members and one who is appointed from the board of governors, you run into that very same problem of representation, to the point that on the divisional boards with four-year terms, if you have an average number of trades per division of 40, you could potentially go 24 years and never actually be formally part of the divisional board, which I think creates some amount of risk that could be better handled. Our recommendation would be that you essentially either eliminate those provisions and leave the determination as to the size of the divisional and trade boards up to the board of governors, or that you eliminate the very prescription for an increase in range that allows for a broader range of members to participate.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Mr. Carter, I just wanted to let you know that your time is up. I’m going to let you just go on for 30 seconds or so if you need to just wrap up, because it has been 15 minutes, actually.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): I just want to consider the other deputants. There are at least three more after you and they’ve made time to come here as well, and we’re running a bit behind already. They want to present as well, so I’m just trying to be fair to everybody; that’s all.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): You can always submit something further in writing to the committee. The committee clerk can assist you with that in terms of sending something in to the committee, because we’re going to still meet in the future and consider this bill. But we have to move on because there are other presenters and I just want to make sure that they get heard today.
Mr. James Bazely: My name is James Bazely and I am the incoming president of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association. I’ve also served as president of the Greater Barrie Home Builders Association and I’ve been involved in the residential construction industry for over two decades. I am currently the president of Gregor Homes. We’re a home builder/renovator located in Barrie.
Let me begin by thanking you for today’s opportunity and by telling you a little about OHBA. The Ontario Home Builders’ Association, OHBA, is the voice of the residential construction industry and includes 4,200 member companies organized into 29 local associations across the province. Our industry contributed over $37 billion to the province’s economy last year while providing 365,000 person-years of employment.
The current regulatory system governing apprenticeship and training across the province is not perfect. There are numerous challenges we face, such as labour shortages in some trades. These shortages are the result of several factors, including:
OHBA has participated in the two previous consultation forums, first under Tim Armstrong, in his review of compulsory certification, and secondly, under Kevin Whitaker, where OHBA provided a written and oral submission to the implementation adviser.
In both consultation periods, OHBA stressed the need for increases in labour mobility and for flexibility in the system. We pointed out that the approvals process in residential construction is very onerous, and any increases in compulsory certified trades will raise the cost of labour, therefore threatening housing affordability.
Changes to the current regime are welcome. However, Bill 183, which has now passed second reading, represents a potentially serious problem for the provincial residential construction industry. We believe that the current legislation is seriously flawed.
First, it appears that the Ontario College of Trades bureaucracy as set out in the legislation is far too politicized to be effective or fair. We have serious concerns about the appointments council, which will be responsible for appointments to the board of governors, the divisional boards, trade boards and the roster of adjudicators. The nine individuals that the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities appoints to the appointments council will have the ability to appoint members to the boards and will therefore affect the orientation of the entire college structure.
The terms of reference for the appointments council include some positive goals, such as considering diversity when making appointments to the various boards and committees. But it remains impossible to ensure how the appointments council will function, given how little representation exists in the divisional and trade boards and given the centralized nature of the institution. The ministry appointments will need to be transparent and accountable to all stakeholders.
Second, the Ontario College of Trades does not adequately consider the significant differences in labour geography. Outside the few major cities in the province, it is not unusual that tradespeople do a wide variety of work to ensure their ability to earn a livelihood. For example, a certified carpenter in Quinte may also do other tasks, such as installing siding or roofing. However, this legislation does not recognize these provincial differences. It is a far too centralized system of regulation across the province. Both the divisional boards and the trade boards are too small to consider the diversity of employer-employee relations. This diversity includes union versus non-union; small employers versus large employers; and rural versus urban employment situations across the province.
OHBA is especially concerned about the trade boards. Under the proposed system, there is a significant risk of unions trying to force non-union trades not in the GTA to become unionized by means of increases in compulsory certification.
In OHBA’s submission to Kevin Whitaker, we stressed that “merely balancing business and labour does not capture the diversity that exists when we compare unionized to non-unionized businesses.” However, this legislation does not capture this diversity. We are concerned that instead there will be a permanent minority of non-unionized employer groups on the board which may be outvoted on many important matters by unions and union-based employer groups.
Third are the risks of trade-wide compulsory certification, which threatens the more flexible system of labour supply in the residential construction sector. As I said earlier, the carpenter in Quinte or Brantford needs to also work on roofs and siding to make a living. With the exception of highly skilled and specialized trades, such as plumbers and electricians, most training takes place on the job site and allows for a unique and flexible style of labour mobility.
The residential construction industry operates under one of the most onerous regulatory frameworks in the province. Unlike many industries, all new houses in the province must be enrolled by the Tarion Warranty Corp. This ensures a level of quality through the construction performance guidelines and the pre-delivery inspection process for all new homes. Furthermore, new homes are covered by warranty to ensure a high level of quality and consumer protection.
At the forefront of all decisions on the board should be implementation adviser Tim Armstrong’s principle to “ensure that Ontario’s apprenticeship and certification system continues to meet proper safety standards, provides value to consumers and serves the needs of the province’s growing economy.”
We remain concerned that the college of trades does not and will not reflect the flexibility of the residential construction sector, and in this way the college does not serve the interests of Ontario’s residential construction employers or workers. While we remain positive about any anticipated reforms in the overly restrictive journeyperson-to-apprentice ratios, we see the larger bureaucracy that this legislation creates as overshadowing any gains we might see in the ratio system.
This legislation is a big project which will have long-term effects on how labour is trained and provided throughout Ontario. We must continue to make adjustments in order to get it right. OHBA would be happy to contribute to any further discussion of the board.
Mr. Robert Bailey: Thank you for your presentation, Mr. Bazely. We’ve covered a number of different issues today through different deputations. There’s one that you touched on that I heard about, and in my time I’d like you to explain how the 3-to-1 ratio affects the homebuilders and your apprentices, or the lack of apprentices, lack of journeymen.
Mr. James Bazely: Yes, certainly. It causes some problems at times. I can speak from my experience. I own a business. We typically construct about 50 homes a year. We typically work with one plumbing contractor. He knows our system. He works with our customers; they make their selections with this individual and his company. When the boom is on, when we’re very busy, he may need extra help in the homes running pipe and whatnot, and he’s restricted to the 3-to-1. That’s tough for him because now he’s got to try and find more journeymen to cover the apprentices, driving his costs up, driving my costs up and making the cost of the house more expensive.
Mr. Robert Bailey: A couple of presenters ago, they talked about this new college, a tripartite membership where you’d have management and actual people like you who are affected by the outcome. Would you support something like that if we moved towards this—they’d have equal membership?
Mr. Rosario Marchese: You’re not worried about safety issues, because you’re saying people learn on the job and it’s just fine. It’s not a big deal, other than electrical and plumbing, I think you mentioned.
Mr. James Bazely: Yes. OHBA has a very stringent and active health and safety committee. Obviously the Ministry of Labour is responsible for making sure that we operate in a safe manner and do regular audits on our job site.
I can speak personally again. I retain the services of a health and safety consultant who does job-site audits; I pay him to do that. He does my training with all my employees and all my trades. They need to be certified in certain aspects of the job before they’re allowed to work on my site. I believe, for all intents and purposes, that most responsible constructors, contractors, homebuilders use the same methodology.
Mr. James Bazely: Quite often, it’s the underground economy, the not-professional, not-full-time employers and contractors who are embarking on unsafe types of construction. The Ministry of Labour keeps a sharp eye on us.
There’s nothing in the bill that I see that says that any trade has to be certified, but what seems to have been a concern over the years, through a variety of governments and over the past decade, as I think somebody said today, is that the way a decision is made as to whether that trade should be certified or not is not fairly applied in any way. There’s no formal way of deciding that. The intent of the college is to formalize that decision so it’s something that employers would have input on and it would be a system you could rely on.
Mr. James Bazely: I think our opposition lies in the uncertainty and the potential for the unions to have a large vote within the governance board. Understanding the diversity of our type of industry—and I’ll be quite frank: This morning I was sitting on an excavator, working on the front of a large renovation that we’re doing, and tomorrow I may be helping my landscape crew carry brick or pipes down the basement to the plumber. We need to remain diversified. In order for me to continue employing the amount of people I do, we have to be diversified and flexible.
My fear is that there will be too much regulatory and mandatory certification, where my carpenter can’t now go out and help lay sod—because it’s Friday afternoon and sod has to go down and get watered—and he would be saying, “Sorry, that’s not my trade; that’s not my responsibility.”
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: My colleagues have some short questions, but if we were able to convince you that this process is balanced, that you won’t get everything you want but you’ll be in a fair and balanced process, would that change your mind at all?
Mr. Jeff Leal: Thanks very much, Mr. Chair. Through to Mr. Bazely, one of the principles up front is that the college of trades would initially set the ratios and then, under section 60, it would be reviewed every four years to reflect, perhaps, changing conditions. How do you feel about that as a mechanism? I mean, you have identified ratios as a challenge. It’s certainly been identified to me in my riding of Peterborough over the last number of years. How do you feel about that as a mechanism, setting aside other parts of the bill at this time?
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Thank you. That takes up all our time, unfortunately, but thank you for that. I’m going to have to move on to our next deputation, because there are some people who have come. Some come from out of town and they want to be heard, and I want to be fair to everybody, but thank you for your very thorough presentation.
To the honourable Chair and clerk and to the committee members, thank you for inviting me to share some of my thoughts on Bill 183. My name is Sue Allen. I’m here today in the capacity of an independent skills developer and consultant.
I’ve read with great interest the flow of debate regarding this bill, including ratios, multi-crafting, compulsory trades system overhaul and how statistics are generated. While acknowledging that each of those are important points in their own right, I would like to point a focused beam on some of Honourable Minister Milloy’s words and speak directly to the potential of Bill 183 and the opportunity it could present.
The honourable minister stated on record that, “The principle behind the college is very much about giving the skilled trades ownership, in a sense, of many of the policy questions and finding solutions to many of the challenges that come before them.”
Of special interest to me was a summary report specific to women entitled Perceptions of Barriers Experienced by Women. This report concluded, after significant community stakeholder involvement and comprehensive study, that of the nine most commonly perceived barriers, there was consensus that at least seven of those barriers applied directly to women.
After years of frustration just trying to get the concept of inequity and barriers to the table, after the Mike Harris funding cuts which meant the demolition of so many of the grassroots inroads and infrastructure that women had been working so hard to create, here finally was a report that acknowledged a number of barriers that needed to be dealt with and that women were one of a number of marginalized groups.
Some of the barriers identified in that report include negative attitudes toward the trades by young people, parents, employers and counsellors; a lack of informal networks—women don’t often have an uncle, a friend, a brother who can say, “I’ll hook you up with an apprenticeship down at the corner garage or at my dealership”; unwelcoming and unsafe work environments; financial barriers for women, especially single mothers and primary caregivers; an apprenticeship training model that is based on an implicit pedagogy that takes men’s learning patterns for granted and is not tailored for women.
The report suggested that this barrier could be offset by effectively recruiting women as trade instructors and that male instructors need to be given support to diversify their teaching methods. Equally, the establishment of training centres specifically for women were recommended.
I remember a time in this city when you could pull in or out of almost any subway stop and see pictures of women working in the trades. The posters were hung on the pillars and on the platform walls. There were also giant billboards downtown, and it was in large part these images of women that had slowly started to creep into the public psyche and had begun to normalize the notion for both men and women that the trades were a viable option for women of all ages. We were making progress. Support groups for women, both provincially and nationally, were flourishing.
To have supporting documentation that said, without apology or hesitation, that women and men have different lived experiences, especially in relationship to the skilled trades, was a gift to every front-line equity worker and to every woman in the trades.
I’ve been a proud tradeswoman for over 20 years. I started out as a tractor-trailer driver and became a fleet driver trainer and a commercial driver trainer and examiner. I taught people how to drive big rigs at Humber College’s transportation training centre and tested them for their class A licence. Let me assure you that a mobile classroom is like no other, especially when it’s almost 70 feet long, 13 and a half feet high and about 10 feet wide and it moves.
I also did a long stint in film and television where I became the first woman voted into IATSE 873’s transportation category, which, believe it or not, as I was told in 1999, was the last local in the world without a woman in the transportation category. The in-joke was that Sue had gone through the glass windshield.
I’ve also had the honour of becoming the first woman head driver and first driver captain in that union, even before I had my union membership card in my hand, and of course I got to work with some really wonderful people along the way. I’ve also been a role model, mentor, coach, coordinator and facilitator and have worked extensively with the apprenticeship system and skills development training, primarily in the motive power sector.
So it is from a place of deep knowing that I tell you that while barriers may be perceived, they are indeed very real for women. You see, I never thought there was anything weird about wanting to drive a tractor-trailer until, at my first place of employment, I had another driver threaten to kill me. Certainly, when I had three tractor-trailers surround my rig and try and ease me off the road at highway speed, I knew something was wrong. I was just trying to make it home from Quebec on the 401 on the middle of the night, bothering no one in the slow lane.
It is therefore also from a place of deep knowing that I tell you that I have spent many years knocking on the door of the skilled trades hoping to make something about the skilled trades mine other than the struggle. Thankfully, over time, I have, both professionally and personally; however, the reality of the skilled trades at large when you cut to the chase is that women are still not welcome—not really. No matter how many women may enter the field, the game, by and large, still belongs to men and to a system that allows inequity to flourish and barriers to stand.
The creation of Bill 183 has the potential, if it becomes law, to act as a new starting point and also as a testament to how far we have come in understanding the truth and severity of women’s experience and the barriers we still face. Only when infrastructure and intent are congruent can we create access to meaningful opportunity. Therefore, giving the skilled trades ownership means very different things to different people. While pouring money into the skilled trades is a necessity, it’s also just the beginning of the long journey towards levelling the playing field. We know that changing the behaviours and patterns so deeply ingrained in the psyche of the trades arena and in the many and varied service systems that support the trades will take a commitment to education, to equity and to diversity. With committed, vital and strong leadership and with proper guidance, the creation of the Ontario College of Trades has an opportunity to make significant and lasting change. The college of trades has an opportunity to set an example and give an injection of life into the arm of equity, which, for so long, has been about government’s empty promises, other debated and discarded bills, and the continuation of the status quo.
If an employee walked into a shop and slipped and hurt themselves on a spot of grease, that spot of grease would be cleaned up, the source identified and the problem rectified. It’s called due diligence. It wouldn’t be left for the next person to have the same mishap with. Articulating and addressing barriers so deeply encoded in the trades and in the systems that support the trades is infinitely different to pointing to a grease spot on the floor, even though the potential for harm is just as prevalent.
If we take an abbreviated journey back through time, we will find that women gathered wood for fire, sharpened spears and created communities, with or without babies on our hips. I’m also pretty confident that women had something to do with the first wheel turning; I think we were there. When fences needed to be built and ground needed to be ready, seeds needed to be planted and crops demanded harvest, women were there. We’ve always done the work, and this is something that women, over time, have forgotten because we’ve actively been invited not to remember.
The first wave of suffragist women organized and mobilized while the world still thought we were holding literary club meetings. During World War I, 30,000 women worked in munitions factories; thousands more were employed in the civil service, banks, factories and on farms; and 1,000 women were employed by the Royal Air Force as truck drivers, mechanics and as ambulance drivers.
World War II saw more than 45,000 women volunteer for military service. In the Royal Air Force alone, the women’s division created in 1941 had 17,000 women enlisted by 1945; 21,000 women served in the Women’s Army Corps and the WRENS or the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service. At war’s end, women comprised 1.5% of those still active on the front lines.
We also know that women were actively legislated out of male jobs and back into the home by virtue of the post-War Measures Act—that’s some kind of thank you. From that point forward, every decade brought with it a new household appliance designed to make the home a place where not just any but every woman would want to be. The 1940s gave us the first automatic washing machine for the home, the 1950s gave us the clothes dryer and the 1960s provided the first affordable dishwasher, and of course our cultural and systemic priorities have flowed from this reality.
The Ontario College of Trades, just like the rest of us, needs to be prepared to lead in order to answer many challenging questions, not the least of which is, “If, historically, tens of thousands of women have answered the call when the country needed us most, how is it now, when the skilled trades shortage we’ve been talking about for years is now totally upon us and will only get worse before it gets better, that women still only represent roughly 3% of the entire transportation sector and 8% across all the trades, give or take some percentage points, depending on who is generating your statistics? Why is that, and where are the women now?”
We know that skilled trades play a major role in the prosperity of our economy. Just take a look around this room. We owe so much to the skilled trades. Pretty much everything in this room exists because of the skilled trades, not to mention the building itself.
We also know that women must play a vital role in the prosperity of our economy. We can’t afford to turn away from the largest and most accessible labour force pool in our province, in Canada and indeed in the world.
So here’s where the rubber really meets the road. Stakeholders know we can no longer afford to remain status quo, no matter how much some would like that reality still to remain. You see, the lack of women in the skilled trades is no longer just about equity; it’s now a socioeconomic problem where, if we don’t address it head-on, everyone loses.
Bill 183 is very clear in its intent to reach out to marginalized groups, including women, francophones, aboriginals, visible minorities and people living with disabilities. The current government isn’t just “doing the right thing”; this government knows that we need to find a bigger labour pool in order for the economy to survive and indeed thrive. The big question is how, and specifically in the case of women, how do we turn back or redirect the tide of 60-plus years of the division of labour by gender stereotyping?
I can’t tell you the level of my frustration when I work with some service providers who, while their hearts may be in the right place, are running around putting signs up in their offices and in public places about how much money women will make in the trades, when in reality the signs aren’t accurate because the service providers don’t understand wage progressions or don’t share all the information with their clients.
The business of skills development and how to bring marginalized groups into the skilled trades has indeed become big business, and lots of people do more harm than good and they want to hang out their shingle.
The Ontario College of Trades will have a daunting task in figuring out how to create meaningful invitations and opportunities that truly speak to marginalized groups. But it will have help if it asks, if we are truly invited in.
I’ve seen in earlier debates that the creation of another ministry was suggested. Truth be told, looking out from within the skilled trades and the training world, the work that needs to be done on both the macro and the micro level, in my opinion, requires a bold new starting point, and the creation of the Ontario College of Trades can potentially be just that.
In 2009, when employers still struggle with where to put the women’s washrooms and change rooms, and where most environments, both ergonomically and socially, still mirror and favour men, the creation of a new governing body to help share the load, one which is willing to listen to those of us who historically have rarely been asked—as evidenced by Mr. Whitaker’s travels and my presence here today—is such a welcome breath of fresh air. We all want and deserve to work in a safe and enriching environment, no matter our chosen field. We all deserve to feel pride in our work and have that pride reflected back in our work environment.
It’s time we celebrated and seized upon Bill 183 as a living, evolving next step in the journey toward levelling the playing field for women in the skilled trades. It’s time to welcome the creation of a new, evolving and living form of governance which, for those of us who have been living inside a system with broken wings, will give those of us who know what it will take from the inside out a real opportunity to create, maintain and make lasting change fly.
Our ability to promote, recruit, train and successfully retain women and other marginalized groups to the skilled trades requires a systems overhaul, and I, for one, would like to start with good company and with a clean slate.
Ms. Sue Allen: The active participation of women in the skilled trades means not only putting a major dent in the labour market shortage, but it also represents a key building block for poverty reduction and of course another step toward equity.
If we are truly interested in building a vibrant economy, creating healthier and stronger communities, and providing future generations with meaningful and enriching opportunity, then it’s time we embraced the work of making infrastructure and intent congruent.
The future of our economy and of our province has a unique and real opportunity with Bill 183 and the creation of the Ontario College of Trades. What we do with it, and who is invited to participate, remains to be seen. Socioeconomic change is everyone’s work, everyone’s responsibility and will require that we all work together.
The Chair (Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti): Thank you very much, on behalf of all present. It was a very good presentation. Our time has been used up on your presentation, so there are no questions, but I want to thank you again for coming out today.
Just a quick background on myself: I started in the trade as a powerline maintainer with Ontario Hydro. I spent a few years looking after the lines apprenticeship training for both Hydro One and the MEARIE Group, and I’m presently customer operations manager with Hydro One in the Newmarket area.
After review of Bill 183, it was the understanding of the PAC that the PAC would continue until the trade board was in place. However, the committee was wondering about the timing of this transition, since the college will be operational in 2012. When we looked through the presentation from the technical briefing, back in June I believe it was, our understanding was that provincial advisory committees would stay in place until the trade boards were formed, but then there was some conflict—some people thought that PACs were actually going to be phased out very early in this process. The reason we’re concerned about that is that our provincial advisory committee for many years now has been dealing with the two issues, which seem to be key here, that the board is going to take on: compulsory certification and the ratios.
We presently have a letter submitted to the government through the MTCU with regard to compulsory certification. The provincial advisory committee has always pushed forward for that, with some very significant concerns: grandfathering, which the government in the past has never been in favour of, with compulsory certification.
There are also subtrades that we have working in the environment. We have protection and control groups and station maintenance groups, which all do work for which some of the tasks fall under the powerline technician trade. So there are the workarounds and the question of how these people still do their work if those tasks are identified in the occupational analysis as falling under the trade.
The issue of ratios, and compulsory certification as well, with the Agreement on International Trade becoming a big issue here: Even though we’re a red-seal-certified trade, we’re already hearing that the province is going to bring back a provincial certification for people coming from outside Ontario who aren’t red-seal-certified. Because the province they’re coming from may not be, the province is going to get back into issuing Ontario tickets, which is totally—there’s a long history behind why we went red seal.
Saying that, the PAC is hoping that, if nothing else, there can be huge consideration of the membership of the appointments council, or trying to keep these provincial advisory committees in effect until the transition period is completed.
The other issue, the ratios, we’ve been dealing with that. It’s a very difficult thing to take on for our trade, mainly with the broad diversity in the province of Ontario and the different types of work. Some companies we’ve seen manage large apprentice crews handling big projects with great success. There are other types of work in different stages of apprenticeship training where you almost need a one-to-one ratio. It’s a tough one to put a handle on.
Another concern is we have the Green Energy Act coming into play. There’s a lot of work that could come in under the Green Energy Act where some of these large apprentice-type crews would work very well, greenfield-type construction. Again, the provincial advisory committee has been dealing with those two big issues, and we feel that if they continue through the transition, it would provide the college with strong resources at arm’s length.
There is also concern among committee members that the proposed number of members at the trade board level would not provide adequate trade representation. We feel that in order to fully represent employee, employer and unions within Ontario membership at this level—the provincial advisory committee right now has membership anywhere from 10 to 12, and we’re still thinking of a membership of seven to 10 to cover all the diversity in the province.
Due to the vast diversity in electricity distribution in the province of Ontario and keeping public and worker safety of the utmost importance, the committee is also recommending that there be consideration into representation at the divisional board level. There’s a lot of concern with the construction sector being so large. You’re going to have a lot of large trades, especially trades that have a significant impact on public safety and worker safety. They’re all going to be trying to get the seats at that divisional board level. There isn’t room for them all. You’ll have a divisional board potentially making decisions, and we could have absolutely no representation from our trade group at that level. I know our trade wouldn’t be the only one with that concern.
The last thing: The PAC is asking for some clarification on the application process for nominees to the board levels. There hasn’t been a whole lot of information sent out on what the process is going to be to put forward nominations towards the trade board levels as well as the roster of adjudicators, those types of things.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thank you very much, Bill. I really appreciate the presentation. What I got out of it was—if I could summarize it, and you can tell me if I’ve got the tone of it or not—that you’re not opposed to the college of trades, but you’ve got some work in progress.
Mr. Bill Smeaton: That’s correct. We’re not opposed to the college; we have some concerns with the makeup of the college. We also have concerns if the PACs are phased out too early in this process. We feel there could be some errors made.
Mr. Robert Bailey: Thank you, Mr. Smeaton, for your presentation today. In the short time we have, could you just touch upon how the diversity of the province, specifically your trade, is affected? Compared to Sarnia–Lambton, where I come from up in the north, what are you faced with?
Mr. Bill Smeaton: The concern is, or my interpretation of it, when we talk about ratios, apprentice-type crews, the employer being handcuffed too much and how they’re going to manage the employee-to-worker ratios, you have some areas—southwestern Ontario—where there could be a lot of new construction with some of the wind generation farms. If you’re not in proximity to live lines, we can put large numbers of apprentices with fewer numbers of journeymen. You get into your heavier urban settings, and you can’t do it. With the live-line atmosphere, now we’re back to more one-to-one. Our concern is if we don’t have the proper representation from the appointments councils to these divisional boards, those points could be missed.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Yes. Thank you, Bill. The issue of the application process for nominees is something that almost every other group has talked about or at least has raised in their submissions. There is no clarity in that regard. Everybody is concerned. I’m not sure we’re going to get anyone from the government to actually speak about that. I’m assuming they’ll say, “Well, it’ll come later.” But there is no clarity, and we are equally concerned about that.
You raise a good point about representation. The colleges were all speaking to that, and it’s true that a lot of smaller organizations might be shut out. I don’t know how you deal with that. That’s why in the model that the OFL was suggesting, where you’ve got employers and you’ve got unions and you’ve got government, there would be an overall representation of everyone. One assumes that everyone would be represented in that way, but when you broke it down in this model, then everybody says, “Gee, I’m not in it; therefore, I’m not going to be represented.” It’s a serious concern. In this kind of model, I don’t know how you’d deal with that.
The point you raised around the whole issue of provincial advisory committees, I think the government needs to look at that because, depending on what progresses or how it progresses, there’s a role for those committees to perhaps continue doing work that might be useful in the interim. That was a good point that you raised. Thank you so much.
Mr. Bill Smeaton: I’m sorry; there was just one thing that did come to mind. I had a phone call today from a few members. It was spoken to earlier today, and that was the issue of apprentices being excluded from the college. That has been raised as an issue with the provincial advisory committee. From my background with the training department, I can see some reasons it may have happened, and that would be that the MTCU is where your funding is coming from to the training delivery agencies. It might be a big one to take on to change that whole structure.