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HRAI has been part of several encouraging discussions with the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) in the past few months.  The College is now under the leadership of Registrar and CEO George Gritziotis, and there are signs that some longstanding concerns and interests of the HVACR sector in Ontario may be tackled once and for all.

Employers Advisory Council

On May 15, HRAI’s Martin Luymes joined a group of industry representatives in a discussion with OCOT on its priority areas of work for 2018.  Gritziotis reported that, since becoming Registrar & CEO in late 2017, conversations with industry groups like HRAI have helped in the development of its Strategic Plan and 2018 Priorities, and this type of dialogue will continue to inform the College’s strategic planning and implementation as it looks ahead to the next five years.
With a view to informing industry about key College initiatives, and in return hearing from employers on their main challenges with OCOT policies and practices, OCOT intends to formalize this employer advisory group to ensure ongoing collaboration and dialogue. Similar consultations are expected to occur with other stakeholders, including labour groups, training providers and other regulators/ministries.

Apprenticeship Ratios Review

HRAI also participated in a stakeholder meeting on May 23 with a goal to explore new approaches to journeyperson-to-apprentice ratio reviews. This has been a priority concern for HVACR contractors in Ontario for many years.

The Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2009 requires that ratios be reviewed every four years. The last round of reviews took place in 2012-2013 and the revised ratios took effect in 2014. The next round of ratio reviews (now overdue) will begin in April 2019.  The Ontario Minister of Labour recently approved a one-year extension to start the review period to allow the College to engage stakeholders on how the review process should work going forward.

The stakeholder meeting on the 23rd included employers, large and small, workers and unions, those involved in training delivery and those representing broader consumer and public interests across all geographic regions of Ontario.  Participants discussed the current approach to ratio reviews, considered the relevant recommendations made by the Tony Dean Review and explored ways to refine and improve the current process.

Some stakeholders expressed satisfaction with the review process that was conducted in 2012-2013.  Other groups, including HRAI, expressed concern that the process was not sufficiently evidence-based.  Members will recall that HRAI argued for one-to-one ratios for key trades in the industry but achieved only minor adjustments in the ratios, in spite of a very strong case.

OCOT is compiling and analyzing feedback from the May 23 session, and will share a draft report in the next few weeks.  The College has also begun planning further stakeholder and public consultations on the ratio review process and will make appropriate changes prior to the 2019 reviews.

Hydronics Trade

HRAI also recently re-engaged with OCOT on the question of developing a special certification program for residential hydronic heating installers, possibly as a stand-alone trade, a subset of an existing trade and/or an endorsement on an existing trade designation.  This discussion bore a lot of fruit and gained consensus support from all stakeholders involved over a year of discussions in 2016 and early 2017 but seemed to grind to a halt after that.  Under new leadership, OCOT now appears prepared to move this initiative forward with some greater urgency.

HVACR Industry Career Promotion

Finally, the College of Trades has also agreed to participate in HRAI’s re-invigorated Career Promotion Committee.  OCOT has shifted some of its own priorities to promote greater public awareness as a tool for supporting the trades.  HRAI’s promotional efforts will almost certainly benefit from OCOT’s participation.

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