A report by the CBC says enforcement by the Ontario College of Trades has evaporated since Premier Doug Ford was elected in 2018.
According to the report, enforcement actions related to Ontario’s compulsory certification of licensed trades stopped immediately following Ford’s election three years ago.
It means that since the middle of 2018, there has been no provincial oversight of whether the people working in Ontario’s licensed trades actually have the credentials to do the work, says the report.
The skilled trades sector has been the subject of ongoing activity in the Ontario, with promises to streamline the apprenticeship process and do away with the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT), promising to replace it with a more responsive governing body.
But the OCOT is still in place. According to the report the lack of evidence of enforcement activity is startling.
There are currently 23 licensed trades governed by the OCOT in the province, including automotive trades. It is illegal to work in any of those trades or to hire someone without the proper certification to work in those trades.
Across all trades, OCOT found more than 4,000 cases of individuals working without proper authorization in the province in each of 2015 and 2016, but not a single case has been posted on OCOT’s website since the Premier Ford took office, and no convictions under the Provincial Offenses Act either, says the report.
And Government spokespeople admit enforcement has stopped.
“Since we formed government, OCOT inspectors have taken an educational role,” said Ryan Whealy, acting press secretary for Monte McNaughton, the minister of labour, training and skills development, in a statement. “We heard loud and clear from workers and management that OCOT, including its enforcement, was deeply politicized and ineffective,” said Whealy.
The OCOT is slated to be replaced by a new agency–Skilled Trades Ontario–in January 2022.
“You as a consumer pay a premium dollar to have your car serviced,” Lou Trottier, owner of All About Imports, an auto service garage in Mississauga, Ont., told the CBC. “If you find out it was done by an unqualified, unlicensed person, it kind of leaves a bad taste in your mouth, doesn’t it?”
This is a disappointing situation for the professionals in the industry. Waiting for the training and licensing organization to get started has been somewhat trying. Hopefully, there are not too many issues to resolve for the new organization (Skilled Trades Ontario). The rumors from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation suggest that there will be little roadside enforcement for the foreseeable future as several officers have retired or moved to other areas and have not been replaced. Seems like we are in reverse as far as road safety is concerned. It is true that Skilled Trades Ontario is gathering information from industry stakeholders to put together a program with modern needs addressed. From the current status, it looks like it will take a long time for both these organizations to get these critical services back in place. It would be beneficial for everyone to get those two organizations working together again on the common goal of having safe reliable and efficient vehicles on our roads.