Newswire (RESCON)/October 24 – The Residential Construction Council of Ontario looks forward to working with the Doug Ford government to implement the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, which if passed, would remove considerable amounts of red tape and barriers for employers in Ontario’s residential construction industry.
This new legislation also will see the winding down of the Ontario College of Trades, the governing body which oversees apprenticeship in Ontario. This would further cut red tape by removing barriers for both employers to hire workers and workers to find jobs.
The provincial government’s omnibus bill was introduced Tuesday by Jim Wilson, Ontario’sMinister Responsible for Red Tape and Regulatory Burden Reduction. This legislation, if passed, will repeal substantial components of Bill 148 – The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017.
“Bill 148 did not take into account how the residential construction industry operates. This new legislation recognizes residential construction as a unique sector and will alleviate unnecessary burdens on the industry,” said RESCON vice-president Andrew Pariser. “Major issues from Bill 148 included a change in how employers and subcontractors were defined under the act, the introduction of two paid personal emergency leave days, and numerous onerous scheduling and shift requirements which simply did not reflect how Ontario employers build Ontario.”
RESCON is pleased that the government recognizes the serious implications that Bill 148 had on employers. “The new Making Ontario Open for Business Act will remove the unnecessary and unfair regulations imposed by Bill 148, allowing construction employers to be more efficient and flexible. Ultimately, this will help the Ontario economy and encourage investment in our province.”
Newswire (Colleges Ontario)/October 23– Measures announced by the Ford government today to improve skills training in the province will go a tremendous way towards producing a more highly qualified workforce, Colleges Ontario said.
“Apprenticeship training in this province is awash in red tape,” said Linda Franklin, the president and CEO of Colleges Ontario. “We’re pleased the government is taking serious action to streamline and improve skills training.”
The government announced that it is terminating the Ontario College of Trades – an important step to help close the skills gap that is hurting businesses and industries throughout the province.
The modernization of skills training is long overdue as growing numbers of employers throughout the province are struggling to find qualified people. The Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance reported last year that up to 41 per cent of the employers it surveyed would hire more people if they had the right skills.
Part of the effort to strengthen the workforce must include reforming apprenticeship training.
Ontario’s colleges continue to champion measures to allow more people to enrol in apprenticeship training and to successfully complete their programs. In particular, colleges are encouraging the government to create a one-window application service to apprenticeship training by expanding the provincial application service for college students to include apprentices.
“Ontario can produce more apprentices with the qualifications and expertise to close the skills gap,” Franklin said. “We encourage the government to work on further reforms that will make a huge difference to students and employers.”
Daily Commercial News/October 23 – The Ontario government intends to “wind down” the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) as “persistent challenges” have become apparent in how the skilled trades in Ontario are regulated, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Merrilee Fullerton stated during an announcement in Scarborough, Ont. Tuesday.
Hurdles have continued to present themselves with College membership fees that apprentices and journeypersons are subject to, a release from the province states, along with the “complexity of the rules apprentices, journeypersons and employers are bound by.”
The proposed reforms are part of the province’s larger Making Ontario Open for Business Act, which, if passed, means the government would “support an orderly transition and ensure continuity of services to employers, workers and apprentices” for the College.
The minister would take charge and control of the College’s board of governors and appoint an administrator to act on her behalf.
“The government intends to develop a replacement model for the regulation of the skilled trades and apprenticeship system in Ontario by early 2019,” the release reads.
It should be noted, the Ministry of Labour will continue to enforce the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
During the announcement, a number of other reforms to the skilled trades system in Ontario were also announced.
Fullerton said since one in five jobs in the next five years will be trades related, numerous changes need to be made when it comes to apprentices and employers.
“The current Ontario apprenticeship system is broken,” she told attendees at Leland Industries Inc., where the event took place, adding the current ratios being implemented and the trade classification system is outdated.
As such, the province is proposing to set all journeyperson to apprentice ratios at one-to-one.
“Ontario’s journeyperson to apprentice ratios likely contribute to the higher costs seen in the construction sector,” the release states. “Setting a single, lower ratio would better align Ontario with other provinces and territories in Canada.”
A moratorium on trade classifications and reclassifications is also being proposed, as the process is
“currently overly burdensome and can affect decisions to hire new staff, as well as companies’ ability to compete in the global marketplace.”
There are currently 133 voluntary and 23 compulsory trades in the province.
The proposed changes are part of the “Making Ontario Open For Business Act,” which includes measures the government says will reduce red tape and encourage growth in the trades.
Currently, the number of apprentices an employer can train is limited, relative to the number of journeypersons they employ.
For trades subject to these ratios — Ontario’s are among the highest in Canada, the government says — the move to a single, lower ratio would simplify and streamline how employers hire and oversee apprentices.
The legislation would also wind down the Ontario College of Trades — the governing body for skilled trades in the province — and replace it with another model by early 2019.
According to Dunlop, the college is a source of frustration for many in business.
“People would write to me about heavy-handed enforcement decisions, high membership fees and complex rules that were hindering them, either as skilled-trades professionals or as a business as a whole,” she added.
The legislation additionally proposes a moratorium on trade classifications and reclassifications, a system the government argues is overly burdensome and has the potential to affect hiring decisions and hinder the ability of business to compete globally.
Outside of its focus on skilled trades, the proposed act includes several controversial measures that have raised the ire of those advocating for worker protections and improved wages.
Chief among them was a decision to freeze Ontario’s minimum wage at $14 per hour until 2020, rather than raising it to $15 in January, as promised by the former Liberal government.
“No successful business person would ever argue the fact that workers themselves are the bedrock of any successful business or enterprise,” said Warren “Smokey” Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. “To this government, workers are now nothing more than ‘red tape’ and a ‘regulatory burden.’”
“This is a game changer. This will make Ontario a leading jurisdiction in the training of apprentices. This sets Ontario up to be competitive for generations to come. This means our industry will finally have a system in place to close the trades skills gap across Ontario. This means employers can finally bring apprentices into their small businesses and train the next generation of skilled trades workers. This opens thousands of new opportunities for youth, and people looking for new employment opportunities,” says OHBA President Rick Martins, “The one-to-one ratio will enable thousands of home builders and renovators to hire and train new apprentices. Our members are ready and excited to hire and train the next generation of skilled tradespeople.”
“After years of being last in Canada in apprenticeships, Ontario will finally become a competitive training and business jurisdiction — this is the only way to close the skills gap. OHBA is ecstatic to see the Ford government act on this long-standing OHBA recommendation,” remarks Joe Vaccaro, CEO of OHBA. “Ontario will grow by more than 4.3 million people in the next 25 years and with that there will be an overwhelming need for skilled labour in the building and renovation sector. With this new apprenticeship plan, our members are now going to be able to hire and train the skilled workers they need to build the new housing choice and supply for future #homebelievers.”