$120 fee being called a money grab
A growing number of Hamilton hair stylists are voicing concerns about what they call the Ontario government’s trades tax.
“It’s an unfair expense for the people that are in this industry,” said Andrea Peters, the Regis Corporation’s regional director of operations for the Niagara Peninsula (which includes Hamilton) of the $120 annual licensing fee the Ontario College of Trades is charging certified hair stylists in the province.
Regis employs as many as 3,000 stylists at dozens of salons in Ontario including First Choice Haircutters, Magicuts, Supercuts and HairCrafters and the company recently joined the Stop The Trades tax campaign that began in 2011 in anticipation of the new fees.
According to the campaign website, the effort includes 130,000 skilled trades people in Ontario and more than 8,000 businesses.
Part of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, the Ontario College of Trades began operating in April 2013 following passage of the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act in Oct. 2009.
The college’s mandate includes regulating the skilled trades sector, issuing licenses and certificates and setting standards for training and certification.
For the past year the college has been collecting annual fees from a variety of occupations including $120 a year journeyperson licensing fee from hair stylists and salon owners.
Apprentices pay $60 each year.
“I would challenge you to find one (hair stylist) that is happy about it,” Peters said. “It’s a money grab.”
Peters said stylists usually start out at minimum wage and can earn more via commission as they built a clientele.
Aleksandra Paprica, a stylist and manager of the First Choice salon in the plaza at Rymal and Upper Gage, noted stylists used to pay $60 every three years after they completed 1,500 hours of school training and apprenticeship followed by a written exam.
Now she said they are paying much more and getting little in return.
“Are there any benefits, no, it’s just taking out of our pocket,” said Paprica, who vows to make the fees an issue in the next provincial election. “I would like for the college of trades to disappear completely, I would like the Ministry to do a better job, if they have to increase (fees) a little bit, that would be okay.”
Karan Oliveira, who looks after eight salons in Hamilton and Burlington for Regis, said the fees are going to make it hard for outlets to attract staff.
“Because they have to pay $150 to write the exam, $60 (apprenticeship fee) to join the Ministry and then they have to pay again to join the college,” she said. “It’s a money pit.”
Diana Abramovic runs the Magicuts salon at Eastgate Square.
She said many stylists find it difficult to get the minimum 70 percent required on the exam, especially for apprentices whose first langue is not English, and apprentices have to pay $150 each time they write it.
The exam fee(s) and the $120 annual college licensing fee she feels, could lead to an exodus of trainees from the hair styling trade.
“They’re going to give up on this and they’re going to go and work somewhere else,” Abramovic said.
Ontario College of Trades spokesperson Matthew Moir said via email the fee was raised to $120 annually because previous renewal fees paid to the province did not cover the full costs of services provided such as the management of Ontario’s apprenticeship program, examination costs and issuing certificates.
“The cost of these services was previously subsidized by Ontario’s taxpayers,” he said. “Our fees are the lowest of any regulator body in the province.”