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In December and January, HRAI surveyed members in Ontario to obtain their views on a variety of issues related to the way trades training and certification is regulated and managed in Ontario.  HRAI will be providing recommendations to the Government of Ontario on how it should proceed in the wake of elimination of the Ontario College of Trades and, along with some further consultation yet to come, the information gathered in this survey will help to shape these recommendations.

Just under 200 members responded to the survey.  Most respondents were contractors and the vast majority reported having a trade CofQ.  Most also employ other tradespersons and apprentices.

A graphical summary of member responses can be found here.

General Findings

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of members indicated that having a “healthy, effectively managed and promoted trades training and apprenticeship system in Ontario is extremely important to their businesses.”  Beyond this consensus, however, members had some quite divergent views on a number of issues.  For example, members were asked about their support for a new approach to enforcement that was being introduced by the College of Trades before the announcement of its closing was made.  The approach was one of assisting contractors/employers to come into regulatory compliance rather than enforcing regulations through fines and penalties.  When asked about their support, about 33% of members were “extremely supportive” but about 20% were not supportive at all.

Similarly, when asked if resources would be better applied to “compliance assistance” versus regulatory enforcement, 15% preferred the compliance approach while 25% preferred the enforcement approach (the rest supported some mix of the two).

Members were asked to assess the relative importance of each of the various functions or activities related to trades training and certification, specifically:

  • adapting existing trades or developing new trades to meet the needs of a changing marketplace;
  • promotion of trades as a career option;
  • development and maintenance of up-to-date apprenticeship training and certification standards and curriculum;
  • documentation and analysis of labour market statistics and trends
  • enforcement of trades certifications in the field; and
  • maintenance of a public registry of qualified trades persons for the buying public

Most of these functions were acknowledged as important and necessary to the proper functioning of the apprenticeship system. Relatively speaking, members placed the greatest value on “maintenance of up-to-date apprenticeship training and certification standards and curriculum” and the least value (though only relatively) on “documentation and analysis of labour market statistics and trends.”

Respondents were also asked to identify which agencies among a list of options should be given responsibility for these various functions.  Responses vary significantly but many pointed to the importance of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.  Others saw great value in relying on the Ministry of Labour and trade associations like HRAI, depending on the service in question.  Special purpose organizations like Skills Ontario ranked highly as a leader in the area of careers promotion.

A modest level of support remains among members for and independent agency like the Ontario College of Trades.  When asked directly whether they would support the concept of a self-regulating body for tradespersons and apprentices in Ontario (setting aside the question of whether or not the Ontario College of Trades, as one such example, worked effectively), 60% of members said they would support this model.  Interestingly, of those who said they could support such an organization, only 28% agreed that it should be self-funded by tradespersons and apprentices.  Another 25% felt that some aspects should be industry-funded but not others, and 40% felt that none of it should be funded by industry.

Next Steps

As noted above, HRAI will use this information to assist in developing a set of policy recommendations for consideration by the Minister of Training Colleges and Universities. 

It should also be mentioned that the survey included quite a number of open-ended questions which attracted a large volume of written commentary from respondents.  Because of the confidential nature of the survey, HRAI cannot report these comments verbatim, but the qualitative inputs will be included in the development of recommendations to government.

Before making these recommendations, HRAI will be hosting a number of contractor roundtable sessions in different parts of the province to gauge member support for these recommendations.  The ultimate goal of this exercise is to assist in the creation of a viable, effective and sustainable governance structure for managing the apprenticeship system in Ontario that will win the support and buy-in of the HRAI membership.

If you are interested in participating in one of these sessions, contact Scott Papp at 1-800-267-2231 ext. 233, or email spapp@hrai.ca.

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