Ontario Government Announces Changes to Apprenticeship Ratios and Proposes to Wind Down OCOT

Ontario Government Announces Changes to Apprenticeship Ratios and Proposes to Wind Down the Ontario College of Trades

The Ontario Government today announced its plans to “modernize and transform” Ontario's skilled trades and apprenticeship system.  The intent is to “reduce the current regulatory burdens that create barriers to apprenticeship, making it difficult for Ontario to keep up in training the skilled tradespeople that will be demanded by the economy.” 

One-to-One Ratios

For all trades that are subject to journeyperson to apprentice ratios, the government is proposing to set the ratio to one-to-one.  “The change to a one-to-one ratio would simplify and streamline how employers can hire and oversee apprentices, reduce costs and provide more flexibility for employers. Setting a single, lower ratio would better align Ontario with other provinces and territories in Canada.”

Implementing a moratorium on trade classifications and reclassifications

Declaring that “trade classification and re-classification in Ontario is currently overly burdensome and can affect decisions to hire new staff, as well as companies' ability to compete in the global marketplace, the government has announced a moratorium on these discussions as a means to “mitigate the risks of increasing regulatory burden and costs for businesses.”

Winding down the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT)

And, responding to criticisms from employers about how skilled trades in Ontario are currently regulated, concerns about mandatory College membership fees imposed on apprentices and journeypersons and the “complexity of the rules apprentices, journeypersons and employers are bound by,” the government is also proposing to wind down the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT).

The government intends to support an “orderly transition” and will ensure “continuity of services to employers, workers and apprentices.”  The Minister will be given special powers in legislation, “including the authority to take charge and control over the College's Board of Governors and to appoint an administrator to act on her behalf.”

The government proposes to develop a replacement model for the regulation of the skilled trades and apprenticeship system in Ontario by early 2019.

What Next?

Many HRAI members in Ontario will be pleased to hear about the move to one-to-one ratios, which has been a priority concern for more than a decade. This announcement will clearly be a cause for celebration.

Reactions to some of the other proposals, however, might be somewhat mixed.  For example, it is unclear what the implications will be of the reclassification moratorium on the development a hydronic heating trade program, which was seeing some real progress of late.  Terminating the Ontario College of Trades might also be welcome news for some in the industry but only if a more responsive and agile system of governance can be developed in its stead.  This is an area of regulation too important to be left in limbo.  While many members believe that OCOT never quite achieved its goal of being the “self-governing” body it was intended to be, they might also be cautious about returning responsibility for trades training and apprenticeship oversight to the government.

HRAI has already engaged with the government on most of these issues and will continue to do so in the coming months, including at its “Queen’s Park Day” on October 30th.  Most important will be the discussions about the development of a new model for regulating the skilled trades and apprenticeship system in Ontario.  HRAI will work to ensure that the new model works effectively for members, their employees, and industry employees of the future.

For a full text of the Government’s announcement click here.

For more information, contact Martin Luymes at 1-800-2567-2231 ext. 235 or email mluymes@hrai.ca.


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