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On November 16th the Government of Ontario introduced an omnibus bill aimed at implementing certain budget measures and clarifying a number of laws and regulations.  Bill 70 passed second reading on November 30th and third reading on December 8th.

Buried in this omnibus bill was a section (Section 17) which makes significant changes to the Ontario College of Trades and Apprentice Act, 2009.

Though the speedy passage of this bill probably reflected the government’s desire to move on a number of budget and housekeeping matters (it contains many elements), it provided no opportunity for industry to consult or advise on the desirability of proposed changes to OCOT. 

Upon first review, the changes appear to have been made at least in part in response to the recommendations made by the Tony Dean Review, which was completed in November, 2015.  At that time, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities vowed to act on most, if not all, of the recommendations.  Since then, accountability for OCOT has migrated to the Ontario Minister of Labour, but few other changes were made.

The amendments to the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2009 include:

  1. A new council called the “Classification Roster” to determine matters relating to the classification or reclassification of trades as voluntary or compulsory. This function is currently performed by review panels established by the Ontario College of Trades.

  2. A classification panel may now determine which practices within the scope of practice for a compulsory trade should constitute engaging in the practice of the trade for the purposes of enforcement.

  3. New provisions setting out how trades may be referred to a classification panel.

  4. A new Part is added to the Act providing for the issuance of notices of contravention requiring a person to pay an administrative penalty. The Part sets out factors that must be considered before a notice of contravention may be issued, such as the risk of harm to the public and other persons, and the scopes of practice of relevant trades.  A person who receives a notice of contravention may apply for a review of the notice by the Ontario Labour Relations Board. Provisions are included regarding the conduct of a review and the enforcement of an administrative penalty.

  5. A new provision that requires that the Ontario College of Trades establish a compliance and enforcement policy and a Compliance and Enforcement Committee to advise the Board on addressing compliance and enforcement issues in respect of matters within the jurisdiction of the College.

According to the OCOT website, the College will be working on the following initiatives over the next six months:

·         A comprehensive compliance and enforcement policy to be publicly posted on the College’s website;

·         The College and the Classification Roster, through the Ministry of Labour, will release the process and criteria for trades to request a review of their classification;

·         As of June 6, 2017, College inspectors will have the ability to issue Notices of Contravention reflecting administrative monetary penalties, rather than tickets with fines under the Provincial Offences Act.   Where requested, reviews of the issuance of a Notice of Contravention will be heard by the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB). The OLRB will be required to consider risk of harm issues, scopes of practice, the objects under the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, plus the College’s new Compliance and Enforcement Policy.

Initial reaction to the Bill from construction trade unions in Ontario was strongly negative, their primary concern being the shift of certain powers from OCOT to the Ontario Labour Relations Board.  Their concern was also about a general lack of consultation by government on these changes.

Senior OCOT officials are optimistic, however, that the changes will help expedite certain longstanding initiatives promoted by industry, such as the development of an appropriate trade designation for the work of hydronic heating system installers. 

HRAI will be consulting with OCOT more intensively over the next few months and will report to members on any significant changes that can be expected to affect the industry going forward.

To read the amendments to OCTAA contained in Bill 70, click here.

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