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On December 3, 2019, HRAI participated in a workshop in Ottawa focused on harmonizing certification and training standards across the country for gas technicians.  This initiative is being led by the Standards Council of Canada under provisions laid out in the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA).

The CFTA established a regulatory reconciliation process, overseen by the senior-level Regulatory Reconciliation and Cooperation Table (RCT). The RCT is designed to reconcile existing regulatory measures identified by Parties to the CFTA—federal, provincial, and territorial governments—that act as a barrier to trade, investment, or labour mobility within Canada.

As reported by HRAI in June of 2019, the RCT’s 2019–2020 work plan is ambitious, containing 29 new measures, one of which seeks to facilitate trade and the ability of gas technicians (gasfitters) who are licensed in one province to work in another. The Provincial-Territorial Advisory Committee (PTAC) was identified by SCC as the appropriate working group to explore this issue. The Committee is expected to deliver a reconciliation agreement by December 31, 2020.

PTAC hosted a workshop on December 3, 2019, in Ottawa with a goal of engaging stakeholders, establishing key issues with the current licensing regimes and identifying potential solutions.  HRAI was represented by Vice President Martin Luymes as well as HRAI Past Chair David Weishuhn, Blue Flame, and Andy Gould, of Reliance Comfort.  Weishuhn and Gould are both active participants on behalf of the industry on the CSA B149 Natural Gas Code Committee.  The meeting also included representatives from provincial regulators from all parts of the country, labour mobility experts, provincial and territorial government departments, training institutes, and apprenticeship organizations.

Luymes made a short presentation supporting the principle of harmonization, even encouraging the PTAC to broaden the scope of discussion to include all certified mechanical trades, as there currently appears to be some risk of de-harmonization, due to individual provinces adopting new approaches to trades administration.  He noted that while almost all provinces follow a similar two-tiered approach to licensing gas technicians (with more-or-less consistent requirements), the administration of training and certification programs varies widely among provinces and the different approaches can pose challenges for the industry.  While the vast majority of contractors operate within the confines of a single province and may feel unaffected by these differences, the lack of harmonization impedes labour mobility between provinces, which can create larger labour market problems for the industry.

According to SCC, the day’s discussions and feedback will feed into the development of the reconciliation agreement.  Given the number and complexity of issues raised, however, participants were not optimistic that this goal could be achieved by the expected December 2020 deadline. 

HRAI will report further on this initiative as it unfolds.

For more information, contact Martin Luymes at 1-800-267-2231 ext. 235, or email mluymes@hrai.ca.

About PTAC

The Provincial-Territorial Advisory Committee (PTAC) is a statutory committee of the Standards Council of Canada (SCC), a Canadian Crown corporation established in 1970. PTAC’s membership consists of one representative from each province and territory and was established to promote provincial and territorial participation in Canada's national standardization network.