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For some time now, HRAI has been working with the Canadian Hydronics Council (CHC) on the development and deployment of a meaningful national training and certification program for residential hydronic heating system installers.  For several years, CHC proposed implementation of the 160-hour course of training developed by the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), and HRAI supported the use of this training program but also took the position that, in provinces where trades certification is enforced, a reliance on this program alone might put the industry in potential conflict with regulators and enforcement bodies, since “hydronic heating” is deemed in most provinces to be part of the plumbing and/or steam-fitting trade.

Accordingly, HRAI initiated discussions with the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) to help find a solution and, after numerous informal discussion, it appeared by June of 2015 that some potential solutions might be worth pursuing.  What followed this discussion in 2015 was more than a year of delays (mostly due to the Tony Dean review of OCOT and then the implementation of his recommendations).  After numerous requests from HRAI and the CHC to resume the discussion, OCOT finally responded by hosting a full-day “workshop” on October 20th, with the goal of fully exploring how to define a “hydronics trade” for Ontario. 

With almost all stakeholders represented, including union reps for the plumbing, steam-fitting and refrigeration trades, it was a surprising but very positive outcome that something close to consensus was reached on the need for such a program.  Though the need for a trade designation of some sort was clearly accepted, questions remain as to whether it should be grafted onto an existing trade (like the residential air conditioning trade was created under the umbrella of the refrigeration and AC trade) or as a stand-alone program.

At HRAI’s recommendation, it was agreed as a next step that OCOT would host a practical scoping exercise with a group of actual hydronic heating system installers/service-persons to determine what comprises a typical residential hydronic heating job and, from that, the relevant skillsets can be established and decisions made about where this trade might fit.  This process is expected to be complete by the end of 2016.  HRAI and CHC will be consulting with relevant stakeholders as this discussion unfolds.

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