Home Builders happy with apprenticeship changes
By Chad Ingram
Published Nov. 15, 2018
The Ford government’s planned lowering of apprenticeship ratios and dismantling of the Ontario College of Trades is very welcome news to the Haliburton County Home Builders Association, and the changes will likely result in more construction job openings for young people in the county.
The changes are part of Bill 47, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, which was tabled in Queen’s Park late last month.
“One of the things that we’ve always argued against was the apprenticeship ratio,” says Gary Burtch, owner G.J. Burtch Construction Enterprises Ltd. and past president with the home builders.
In 2009, the McGuinty Liberal government implemented the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, which established the College of Trades as a regulatory body and set the required apprenticeship ratio for all trades at three journeypeople to one apprentice. The new legislation will bring that ratio back to one-to-one.
“We can start looking at hiring some more young people,” Burtch said. “I can have three journeymen and three apprentices.”
Burtch told the Times the apprenticeship ratio that has been in place has meant that some young people who’ve wanted to get into the trades locally have not been able to.
“Over the years, we’ve lost some young ones,” he said. “They want to get into the construction field . . . but they don’t want to sit and wait.”
At its September conference, the Ontario Home Builders’ Association passed a resolution requesting the new provincial government reduce the apprenticeship ratio.
“The Ontario Home Builders Association has been fighting it from the beginning,” said Burtch, who is also a board member with the provincial association.
Along with the reduction in the apprenticeship ratio, the dismantling of the College of Trades is another welcome change. It took on responsibilities that had previously been looked after by the Ministry of Labour and trades schools themselves, and was widely criticized within the trades industry for being overbearing and producing too much red tape, as well as being a tax grab for the various administrative fees it demanded.
“They increased the cost of the mandatory trades,” Burtch said.
Mandatory or compulsory trades, such as electrical or heating, require formal certification, while others, such as carpentry are considered “voluntary” trades.
While it hadn’t happened yet, there were rumblings that the College of Trades might make voluntary trades mandatory, meaning that those hired as carpenters would be narrowly restricted in the type of work they could perform.
Many carpenters will also hang drywall, maybe do some stonework, etc., during a construction project.
“If it becomes compulsory, then all we can do is nail wood,” Burtch said, adding that would mean that a job that should be able to completed by two tradespeople, could end up requiring five or six.
“What I would have liked to have seen it do was promote the trades,” Burtch said of the College of Trades.
The Haliburton County Home Builders Association recently released a video promoting the trades as a career option.
Burtch said the changes will also help close the skilled trades gap in Ontario. According to the Conference Board of Canada, that gap could amount to as many as 560,000 unfilled positions by 2030. Some 85,000 tradespeople are expected to retire during the next decade.
More information on the Haliburton County Home Builders Association can be found on their website at http://hchba.ca.