Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ontario College of Trades a win for skilled tradespeople and consumers

Published on Tuesday August 07, 2012

Josh Mandryk/Toronto Star

Ron Johnson is chair of the board of governors at the new Ontario College of Trades.

The yet-to-launch Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) has been under intense fire from construction employers who are calling for it to be abolished or overhauled before it even gets off the ground. Most recently, the Ontario Construction Employer Coalition has decried the OCOT’s proposed fee structure, characterizing it as little more than a “tax grab.”

Reasonable people can disagree on how and by whom the OCOT should be funded — this is precisely why there’s been an open consultation process on such matters from the get-go — but the important role it will play should hardly be in dispute.

Simply put, the OCOT is a North American first that will benefit skilled tradespeople and the general public as consumers.

The OCOT is the professional college for Ontario’s 500,000 skilled tradespeople. When operational, it will be the first College of Trades in North America and the largest professional college in Ontario. It will put Ontario’s skilled tradespeople on an equal footing with doctors, nurses and teachers by giving them a professional college of their own. It will give Ontario’s skilled tradespeople a voice in important public policy debates and empower them to shape the future paths of their industries.

Perhaps equally important, the OCOT will also benefit consumers. Part of its mandate is an investigatory and disciplinary function for complaints. As such, it will serve as a means for consumers to hold unscrupulous contractors to account for shoddy craftsmanship, whereas they might currently be prevented from doing so through more costly and cumbersome legal alternatives.

In light of this function, it becomes easier to understand why certain construction contractors might be opposed to the OCOT.

The OCOT will also be charged with the crucially important task of attracting and recruiting the next generation of Ontario’s skilled tradespeople.

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