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Hudak vows to scrap trades college

By Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

PC Leader Tim Hudak (ANTONELLA ARTUSO, Queen's Park Bureau)

PC Leader Tim Hudak (ANTONELLA ARTUSO, Queen's Park Bureau)

The Ontario College of Trades celebrated its first anniversary Tuesday mired in the controversy that has dogged the oversight agency from the start.

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak — flanked by representatives of Ontario automobile dealers and home builders — condemned the OCT as a job killer and vowed to scrap it if voters ever choose him as their premier.

“The College of Trades is a wall between new Canadians and young people getting a new job,” Hudak insisted. “I’ll tear down that wall.”

Premier Kathleen Wynne defended the embattled OCT, saying rather than stand in the way of someone obtaining a skilled trade, it sets up a professional framework for those jobs.

“What the College of Trades is about ... is making sure that people in the skilled trades ... have decision-making power over what matters to them,” she said. “That is the professionalism that we have wanted to put in place.”

David Tsubouchi, a former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister and the OCT registrar, argued the college brings balance to the interests of employers and trades people, countering claims from Hudak that it hands tighter control to unions over who works in the industry.

The OCT was set up to promote the skilled trades in Ontario, and sends inspectors into workplaces to determine if people doing certain work are licensed.

Without a certificate of qualification — a process that usually requires education, exams and an apprenticeship — an Ontarian cannot legally perform any work that falls under a licensed trade.

Electrical and plumbing are two examples of work that can only be done by licensed professionals, but the OCT has been asked to declare general carpentry as a compulsory trade.

PC MPP Garfield Dunlop said eventually a homeowner wishing to hire workers to renovate a bathroom will need to pay a team of licensed trades to get the job done.

“If it’s like Quebec, 11 (trades people) to renovate your bathroom. You’d have to bring in a drywaller, a painter. The guy that puts in that piece of trim around your window? He can’t paint it. It’s complete insanity,” Dunlop said. “This is Ontario. It’s not Nicaragua or some bloody place like that.”

Vince Kacaba, a director of training with the local plumbers and steamfitters union, said the college improves the status of the trades and protects the public from unqualified labourers who could put lives at risk with shoddy work.

 


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