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Union says Hudak wrong about Ontario trades college

Trade certification is no longer handled by the provincial government.


TORONTO — Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak cannot win the current Ontario election by misleading the public about the Ontario College of Trades, according to the president of Unifor, Jerry Dias.

“The College of Trades is good for the trades. The decisions affecting the skilled trades are being made by the trades for the trades, and not by politicians like Tim Hudak,” Dias said.

“It’s about time the Conservatives quit bashing the college and rather embraced the structure and worked with all the stakeholders to make it a successful body,” he said.

The college was set up in 2009. Previously, trade certification in the province was handled by the provincial government.

The majority of trades in Ontario are voluntary. Out of 156 trade classifications in Ontario, only 22 are compulsory. These tend to be jobs where safety requires a skilled person do the work – such as wiring a home for electricity, fixing a car or installing fire prevention sprinklers.

“These are jobs where you want someone with a certificate to prove they can do the job safely,” said John Breslin, Unifor Skilled Trades Director.

Breslin said journeyperson to apprenticeship ratios are not a barrier for entry into the skilled trades.

“Lowering ratios would allow employers to reduce their costs and the quality of workmanship by laying off 200,000 skilled journeypersons and replacing them with low cost, lower-skilled apprentices, all at the expense of public safety.”

The college is funded by membership fees from the compulsory trades, meaning there is no cost to the taxpayer, unlike the previous structure when the provincial government handled skilled trade issues, Dias said.

“We do not need the skilled trades being part of the government bureaucracy of the past, where decisions were not made out of political expediency and not always in the best interest of skilled trades, apprentices or the public,” Breslin said.

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