It does not seem that long ago that the Ontario liberals were critical of Harper’s conservatives and their omnibus bills. These bills would group a number of issues in one bill so that they could jam unfavourable legislation through. Well, Bill 70 is a bill that deals with 26 different acts and Schedule 17 Ontario College of Trades Act is bad for Ontario’s trades and the general public.

The proposed changes to the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) act or Schedule 17 of this omnibus bill are long and complicated but boil down to the enforcement of only portions of a compulsory trade. This is problematic for many reasons but particularly due to the term “risk of harm.” This term was contrived in the Dean report. The hard portion will be determining the risk of harm parameters in the scope of practice within a compulsory trade. Does it mean risk of immediate harm or does it mean risk of harm when the equipment fails down the road due to improper installation. Another troubling part of this portion of the Bill is that the OCOT inspectors no longer have the power to issue tickets. Instead a notice of contravention will be issued. The Ministry can now make regulations to ensure that when individuals are performing portions of a trade, under the scope of practice of a compulsory trade it would not be a contravention. Most of the genuine trade’s felt there was real value in having a strong enforcement arm within the college and strong enforcement is good for the public, as well. The college (OCOT) is no longer a self governing board as are most of the other similar Colleges within Ontario. EG. Ontario College of Nurses and Physicians.

The other portion of this section that is not good for trades is the OLRB being the group for the appeals process, and the parameters, which are very broad, that they would consider in this process. OCOT has mentioned that they would have a self-regulating process which utilizes the scopes of practice for the trade but this was not good enough for this government as they want the ability to allow others to perform trades work.

It has been said that if these changes are enacted we will have the lowest trades standards in Canada, even worse than the mess which was created in British Columbia, (Which, they are trying to repair now!), If they are a enacted these changes will weaken our OCOT and hurt skilled trades in Ontario. The public will ultimately suffer through the weakening of the College with the changes currently being considered.

Ray Hamel

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