< Browse more articles

Inter-provincial/territorial harmonization, red tape and regulatory reduction, next steps in the redesign of the Ontario College of Trades and the certification of Gas Technicians were among the key issues addressed with senior staff at the ministries of Economic Development, Job Creation & Trade (MEDJCT) and Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) and the Hon. Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services over the past few weeks as Martin Luymes, VP, Government and Stakeholder Relations and Dorothy McCabe, Government Relations Specialist travelled to Queen’s Park. 

Please see below for a brief overview of each meeting:

  • Minister of Government and Consumer Services – the Hon. Lisa Thompson
  • Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
  • Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade

As is customary, following the June 2019 cabinet shuffle, HRAI introduced itself to new Ontario ministers and their policy teams, referencing previous discussions and apprising them of our current recommendations on key issues.

Members have clearly indicated in recent surveys that they place a high value on the advocacy work HRAI conducts on their behalf.  It is important, therefore, to ensure members are aware of our activities on the government relations front and we want to ensure you know that we value your input and any information and feedback you would like to contribute.

Over and above our inputs on specific government policies and directions, HRAI’s message to elected officials, policy advisors and civil servants is to consult with HRAI and its members to enhance their understanding of the HVACR sector, which will better inform their policy and legislative process.

Taking a proactive, ongoing, consultative approach will aim to ensure that we remain aware and informed of the provincial government’s direction on various issues.  More importantly, it will work to ensure the various ministers and ministry staff are better educated and informed about the policy needs of our sector.

For more information, contact Dorothy McCabe, Government Relations Specialist at 1-800-267-2231 ext. 223 or e-mail: dmccabe@hrai.ca.

OVERVIEW OF RECENT QUEEN’S PARK MEETINGS: 

1) Minister of Government and Consumer Services – the Hon. Lisa Thompson:

HRAI of Canada appreciates that the MGCS and the provincial government moved quickly to address outstanding concerns in the HVACR sector regarding the overreach and unintended consequences of Bill 59, Putting Ontario Consumers First Act. In early 2019, HRAI met with senior Ministry of Government and Consumer Services policy advisors and staff and provided industry advice regarding proposed changes to Bill 59.  In June 2019, HRAI responded to the ministry’s proposed series of regulatory amendments with a full submission which was informed by members’ input.  Generally, the proposed changes are welcome.  However, as the submission indicates, additional changes are required.

Two other issues of note which we discussed include:

Certification for Gas Technicians:  Certification of Gas Technicians is the responsibility of Technical Safety Standards Association rather than MTCU despite the fact that oversight of other certified trades and apprenticeships is under the purview of the MTCU.  In most provinces, the Gas Technician certification is a trade and creating an apprenticeship program for gas technicians or deeming it a trade would bring Ontario into alignment with other provinces. 

HRAI has long argued that TSSA and MTCU should negotiate an arrangement to develop an apprenticeship program for gas technician or regulate the gas technician “trade” under MTCU.  We are hopeful that Minister Thompson is considering taking this step.  As HRAI has a positive working relationship with our TSSA partners, we indicated that we look forward working with the Ministry to advance and resolve this issue.

Finally, we strongly recommended that the Minister and her staff work with HRAI, MTCU and TSSA, the Regulatory Cooperation Table (operating under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement) and ministerial colleagues across the country to create exemptions to the regulations for commercial AC systems with exceptions based on refrigerant type and pressure.

2) Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities: 

HRAI and its members generally agreed that the Ontario College of Trades had flaws and required review and some change.  We are pleased and appreciate that the government was sensitive to the need for a Ratio Review and that one-to-one journeyperson ratios were quickly established.  Not only does this better align Ontario with other Canadian provinces and territories, for those trades subject to ratios, it should streamline processes and reduce costs for employers.  

Next steps:  MTCU staff indicated that the new Special Advisor(s), who will be responsible for the next iteration of the OCOT, will be named in the early fall.  We were assured that we will be involved in upcoming consultations with the MTCU’s Special Advisor(s).  We will work closely with HRAI members, the Special Advisor(s) and MTCU staff to determine next steps for the regulation, governance and promotion of skilled tradespeople and apprentices and industry issues.

If you want to receive more information about this upcoming process and consultation, and/or want to participate, please contact Dorothy at dmccabe@hrai.ca or at 1-800-267-2231 ext. 274.

3) Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade:

HRAI represents the HVACR sector on the Regulatory Reconciliation and Cooperation Table (RCT) operating under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA).  The 2019/2020 work plan continues work on the removal and harmonization of numerous barriers to inter-provincial/territorial trade, investment, services and labour mobility.  Success with this will directly impact our sector’s ability to create jobs, increase economic activity and save Ontario businesses and individuals’ money. 

Particular regulations and codes requiring harmonization in the work plan include:

  • Energy efficiency standards and building codes to enable increased sale and installation of residential and commercial products
  • Exempt Boilers and Pressure Vessels regulations for commercial AC systems with exceptions based on refrigerant type and pressure, similar to exemptions for residential AC.
  • Prompt payment legislation and associated regulations in all provinces by 2021.
  • Gas technician’s certification requirements by 2020.

We are hopeful that the provincial government is listening to the HVACR sector and that they will move to address the longstanding problems arising from the provincial patchwork of regulations and codes.