While they acknowledge the new regulations are here to stay, local homebuilders say they’re not seeing any benefits in exchange for fees charged by the Ontario College of Trades.
Vince Molinaro, first vice-president of the Ontario Homebuilders Association calls the new mandatory registration fees an unfair tax on trades people.
“We’re getting feedback from everyone,” said Molinaro. It’s probably one of the biggest issues we’re dealing with now. People are upset; they’re getting bills in the mail; they’re not understanding what this is for.”
The Ontario College of Trades was put in place by the Liberal government to act as an industry-driven, professional regulatory body that protects the public by regulating and promoting 156 apprenticeship-eligible skilled trades in Ontario.
Molinaro said trades people in the home building industry now pay about $150 in annual membership fees.
“It’s a big deal to the tradespeople, especially if they aren’t getting any value to it whatsoever,” said Molinaro. When the government talked about the college, they talked about training and safety, all kinds of wonderful things and I don’t know what happened to that piece, but that doesn’t exist.”
Brandon Campbell, vice-president of Hamilton’s Starward Homes, echoed those concerns.
“They get no additional training, they get nothing for their fee, other than they get listed on a list of people who have paid. It’s a tax to workers,” Campbell said.
But Tyler Charlebois, an Ontario College of Trades spokesperson, said the organization performs numerous functions to benefit both trades people and consumers.
Along with protecting the public interest through enforcement activities, Charlebois said the college issues certificates of qualification and statements of membership, develops training and curriculum standards, assesses individual’s prior skills and experience through the trade equivalency assessment process and promotes the skilled trades and apprenticeship system.
The college works like other regulatory bodies for teachers, real estate agents, travel agents, and nurses, which are funded through membership fees as opposed to general revenues collected from all taxpayers, Charlebois noted. He said the college’s fees are also the lowest of any regulatory body in Ontario.
“Membership fees support the college’s mandate to protect the public interest by regulating and promoting the skilled trades,” Charlebois states in an email.
Charlebois said since its inception, the college has been working with industry and curriculum experts to update and develop the training and curriculum standards for all apprenticeship trades in Ontario.
The college also helps consumers choose qualified tradespeople for construction projects.
“Now for the first time in Ontario, the public can confirm if a person working in a compulsory trade — wiring their home or fixing their brakes — has the certification to do the job through our public register,” Charlebois stated.
Along with his concerns over the Ontario College of Trades, Molinaro said the provincial homebuilding agency has asked the province to establish a one-to-one ratio between apprentices and journeymen.
Molinaro said the provincial Liberals have committed to a review of the matter.
Former Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak had promised to scrap the college during the last election campaign if his party formed a government.