Toronto – A coalition of Ontario skilled trades workers have launched a legal challenge to the provincial government’s overhaul of the compulsory trade system introduced in the 2016 budget.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Construction Council of Ontario (IBEW-CCO), the Ontario Pipe Trades Council (OPTC) and the Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario (ECAO) ask the court to uphold sections of the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act (OCTAA) that requires complex trade work be performed by trained and certified individuals.
“We will see some serious long- term effects from these amendments that will put workers and the public at risk of serious harm or death,” says James Barry, IBEW-CCO Executive Chairman and former Board member of the Ontario College of Trades, the organization created to regulate and promote skilled trades in Ontario.
The compulsory certification provisions of the Act are now subject to eventual elimination through amendments buried in one of the 26 schedules to the Ontario government’s omnibus budget bill in late 2016. The amendments allow untrained, uncertified workers to perform the work of a compulsory trade, upending more than 50 years of trade regulation in Ontario designed to ensure that only those with the requisite experience, skill and certification perform compulsory trade work.
“Compulsory certification is the bedrock of trade regulation in Ontario,” says Jim Hogarth, OPTC Business Manager.
“These hidden amendments risk the jobs of tens of thousands of tradespeople and apprentices in the province, and allow uncertified individuals to perform dangerous work,” added IBEW-CCO Executive Secretary-Treasurer John Grimshaw.
For the past 50 years, Ontario has required specific types of work be completed only by individuals with a Certificate of Qualification in that trade. The hidden amendment of the OCTAA allows uncertified workers to perform the work of a compulsory trade.
The IBEW, OPTC and ECAO are asking the Court to confirm that inspectors are required to issue a notice of contravention if exclusive compulsory work is being performed by an uncertified worker, and that the Ontario Labour Relations Board is required to uphold the notice of contravention, as the OCTAA requires.
“For more than half a century, Ontario has protected the safety of workers and the public by ensuring that skilled trades doing dangerous work were declared compulsory and requiring workers in that trade to hold a Certificate of Qualification,” says Graeme Aitken, Executive Director of ECAO.
Combined, the IBEW, OPTC and ECAO represent 33,000 electricians, plumbers, steamfitters, pipefitters and contractors working in the skilled trades in Ontario.
Source: Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario