On Friday, November 16th, 2018 The Simcoe County Home Builders’ Association held their Awards of Creative Excellence & Presidents Gala! This is where we recognize excellence & honour creativity, innovation and design in new home construction & renovations! There were over 50 submissions & competition fierce.Continue reading
Daily Commercial News (Don Wall) /November 7 – The parliamentary assistant to Ontario’s Minister of Labour Laurie Scott said recently the Doug Ford government did not shirk in consultations with stakeholders before it announced Bill 47 on Oct. 23, which will simplify trades apprenticeship ratios and see the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) folded by the end of next year.
And even if some stakeholders felt blindsided by the announcements, Thornhill MPP Gila Martow suggested at a recent construction sector event, it is imperative that the government move quickly to ensure companies looking to invest in Ontario don’t spend their money elsewhere.
“The rules and regulations we are talking about are really red tape, a lot of it, that is hampering business development,” said Martow during an interview while attending the Ontario General Contractors Association safety awards breakfast held in Mississauga Oct. 26.
“Obviously we want as many people as possible to be aware of the initiatives we are working on. I think we all understand how fast we have to work and how desperate we are to get that investment because every day we wait, there are companies looking elsewhere to invest. “Sometimes when moving so quickly, the message has trouble getting out as far and wide as you’d like. I am sure the minister would like to share the message as much as possible.”
Besides the decision to institute a 1:1 journeyperson-to-apprentice ratio across the board for construction trades and to scrap OCOT, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act will stop the certification of compulsory trades, roll back a planned $15 per hour hike to the minimum wage and undo worker benefits and working conditions approved by the previous government.
The Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario said it was given no advance warning of the impending moves and the council invited OCOT CEO and registrar George Gritziotis to make a presentation on future College directions at its annual convention in early October.
Ian Cunningham, president of the Council of Ontario Construction Associations, said his council had advocated on workplace scheduling and similar issues with the new government but he knew nothing of the plan to axe OCOT.
Patrick McManus of the Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance said his group had an idea of the government’s direction but not the specifics. Sean Reid of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada said the PCA has had conversations with the Ford administration regularly since it took office.
The previous Liberal government spent 13 months consulting with stakeholders on reforms to OCOT through the Tony Dean review beginning in October 2014 and then it was another 13 months after Dean submitted his report until the reform legislation was passed, in December 2016.
The Ford government, elected in June, marked its first 100 days in office Oct. 6.
Martow commented that with labour, cannabis and education consultations all taking place in recent months, “People have actually joked with me, you are consulting and consulting, are you actually doing any work because it sounds like all you do is consult.
“All I can say is we have had roundtables with businesses in every riding across the province, that we have all done our best, including myself, to invite as many business community stakeholders to those roundtables.
“I would advise anyone who feels they are not getting the messages to let the minister know they’re disappointed and on behalf of the ministry I apologize if they weren’t told of something but on the other hand, that is always the challenge in government.”
Global News (Darryn Davis)/November 7 – Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith, who took over as Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development after Jim Wilson resigned, made his first appearance in his new role at his home riding on Tuesday.
Smith travelled to a new Belleville subdivision to trumpet the government’s Bill 47, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act.
Holding his media conference in a partially built home, Smith said the government will eliminate red tape for builders. “A big part of that is ending the Ontario College of Trades, which has been so restrictive.”
Smith said the move will eliminate taxes businesses have to pay to the college. “It was costing businesses to pay a fee to the Ontario College of Trades and really they were getting nothing for that.”
Another component of Bill 47 is an adjustment to the journeyman-to-apprentice ratio. When the bill passes it will be one journeyman to one apprentice. “We’ve got small businesses that want to hire an apprentice but they need three journeymen electricians,” Smith said.
Eric DenOuden, president of Hilden Homes, built the subdivision where the media conference was held.
DenOuden says the move is necessary to address the expected shortage of skilled trades workers.
“We know that we’ve got about 85,000 tradespeople retiring in the next 10 years and they have to be replaced we also know that there’s an increased population and more houses are needed.”
Smith takes over as the portfolio after his predecessor Wilson resigned on Friday. A statement from Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s communications team indicated that Wilson resigned “to seek treatment for addiction issues.”
Your Board of Directors has been working since the spring 2018 in association with our colleagues at BILD Simcoe Chapter on the proposed increase of the Simcoe County Education Development Charges (EDC). As initially presented the proposed new charge of $5,050 per residential unit represents a 187% increase over the current charge of $1,759. The result of our collective efforts the Ministry of Education filed a regulation that amends O. Reg 20/98 which effectively freezes EDC’s at the rates that were in effect on August 31, 2018. Accordingly, the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board and the Simcoe County District School Board passed their Education Development Charge By-Laws on October 25, 2018 which effectively retains the current rate structure at $1,759 per residential unit. The Ministry is conducting a review of EDC Policy and we will continue to monitor the situation and keep our membership informed. This is a significant positive development beneficial to our membership and their customers.
Globe and Mail (Saira Peesker)/October 28 – Business groups are praising proposed changes to Ontario’s apprenticeships system, saying it will ease labour shortages, but labour advocates say businesses will shift work onto apprenticeships as a way of reducing costs.
The provincial government on Tuesday unveiled the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, a bill that scraps many employment reforms introduced by the previous government. The new law would eliminate paid sick days, freeze the minimum wage for two years and allow companies to pay temporary or part-time workers less than full-time staff doing the same work.
The bill will also change the apprenticeship system. It would increase the ratio of apprentices to trained workers, or journeypersons, allowed on a job. This change affects 33 trades in which apprenticeship ratios are required and set by the Ontario College of Trades after independent reviews that involve industry and public consultations. The bill also proposes eliminating the College of Trades, the regulatory and enforcement body for tradespeople created in 2009.
“There have been persistent challenges in how the skilled trades in Ontario are regulated, the amount of College membership fees that apprentices and journeypersons are subject to and the complexity of the rules,” stated a release from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
Stephanie Rea, the ministry’s director of communications, said the bill’s intent is to reduce regulatory burdens on all parties and to encourage more people to become apprentices. The province has promised to release a plan in early 2019 for phasing out the College of Trades.
Business groups such as the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) applauded the apprenticeship system reforms. They said the changes would make it easier to hire apprentices and address a growing labour shortage.
“For more than a decade, both apprentices and employers alike have been urging the provincial government to remove barriers to apprenticeship training,” Plamen Petkov, CFIB’s vice-president for Ontario, said in a release. “Reducing artificial ratio restrictions, which were eliminated in most other provinces years ago, will allow more young people to enter the trades and pursue a meaningful career.”
Many manufacturing companies have long been asking for these changes, said Ian Howcroft, chief executive of Skills Ontario, a non-profit that promotes trades careers to young people. He said there was “quite a bit of controversy” when the College of Trades was created.
“Many felt it was too unnecessary and bureaucratic while others felt it would professionalize the trades,” he said, noting Skills Ontario doesn’t take a position and will work with whatever structure is in place. “In my personal view, it was off to a rocky start from the beginning … it had a complicated governance structure and it became a partisan issue.”
Financial Post (Guest contributor, Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli)/October 26 – Last month, I had to deliver the sobering news to Ontario families and businesses that the previous government left us with a $15 billion deficit for the year 2018-19.
It’s a difficult number for many people to comprehend, but it signifies an urgent need to address a dilemma that is both fiscal and moral in nature.
Our public debt is a whopping $338 billion. The fourth largest line item in the Ontario government budget remains the interest payments on that debt, currently to the tune of $11.9 billion annually.
Debt-servicing costs are crowding out spending on our cherished public services, not only for our generation, but also for future generations. Our interest payments represent a fifth of our healthcare budget; almost half of our education budget, and nearly $1 billion more than what we spend on post-secondary education and training in this province.
Ontario’s debt amounts to more than $24,000 for every man, woman, and child.
Given the reality of the province’s situation, there are those who suggest the only options before us are deep cuts to public services or tax increases. Both approaches would be unacceptably harmful to Ontario families and businesses.
There is another way — a way that is modest, pragmatic and reasonable.
Premier Doug Ford and our government have said time and again, we believe in efficiencies, not cuts. We believe in investing in our frontline workers. We believe in transforming government by spending smarter, working smarter, and respecting taxpayers’ dollars.
Rather than raising taxes, we can find ways to deliver programs more efficiently and find four cents on the dollar to balance the books without hurting taxpayers. We can fund programs based on evidence and measurable outcomes to make sure Ontarians see value for their money and corresponding improvements in how they receive public services.
Here’s a case in point: OHIP+. Our government fixed the universal program to cover only those who did not have existing prescription drug benefits and to cover any outstanding eligible costs after the private plans are billed. We will save hundreds of millions of taxpayer’s dollars, while ensuring all children and youth under-25 are covered — and this was done without a single job being cut.
Here’s another: the Ontario College of Trades. Created in 2013, the college added another complex, unnecessary layer of rules and bureaucracy for skilled tradespeople. Our government is introducing legislation that, if passed, will wind down the college and modernize the current apprenticeship system, while still enabling the Ministry of Colleges, Universities, and Training and the Ministry of Labour to certify and oversee the trades as they did effectively before the college was established.
Creating a culture of efficiency and innovation will be key to our path to balancing the books. Through our Red Tape Reduction roundtables, our Big Ideas Challenge, and the Planning for Prosperity consultation, we received countless ideas from people across the province on how to make government work better for them. We’ll have more to say on those ideas soon.
In order to address our challenges and start Ontario down a path toward fiscal sustainability, it will take a team effort and a lot of hard work. Everyone across the province will need to pitch in so we can protect our cherished public services for this generation and future generations.
We have a monumental job ahead of us, so we need to focus on modernizing and re-inventing government to work better for taxpayers, and begin the proper management of public finances.
Global News (Linda Nguyen)/October 28 – When Vanessa Witkowski and her husband were tasked with selling his grandmother’s home, they both knew they didn’t want to do it the traditional way.
What they wanted was to have a more transparent process and to avoid wasting time “playing games” with potential buyers.
So, they decided to put the house up for auction.
“We really didn’t like the traditional process. My husband and I would rather see the home sell to someone that truly loves it and values it, and not just have someone lose out on the bid because of any undisclosed information,” said 47-year-old Witkowski.
The east Toronto home will be posted next month with a starting bid of $650,000 through On The Block, a Toronto-based brokerage that specializes in online real estate auctions.
Currently, in the majority of real estate transactions, interested buyers are asked to submit a bid through a blind offer process not knowing if there are other bids, or what those bids contain.
Through this method in a hot housing market, buyers often can blindly offer more than what they initially planned on spending in hopes of beating their competitor, and sellers often come out on top.
Although Witkowski wants the home to be sold for a fair price, she wanted to ensure all those interested can make serious, informed offers, so she chose to have the house sold in an open, online auction.
In Ontario, realtors are permitted to share the price of a competing offer with another buyer, but only if all parties involved agree to the auction process. Although allowed, the practice is rare, especially in a market where demand still outstrips supply.
The Ontario Real Estate Association, the industry group which represents more than 70,000 realtors, is taking it one step further.