Labour and Industry Share Concerns & Recommendations with Ontario’s New Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities

EIN 29 CS LabourAnd 400

July 8, 2019

By Lisa Helder

Representatives from CLAC, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario (ECAO), and the Ontario Electrical League (OEL) recently met with Ontario’s new Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities, Ross Romano. 

At this meeting, they presented a joint submission regarding the importance of ensuring the electrical trade remain safe and subject to high training and certification standards.

“The coming together of these four organizations is unprecedented, which demonstrates just how important this issue is and how crucial the message,” says Ian DeWaard, CLAC Ontario Director (far right in photo).

On May 29, the Ontario government passed the Modernizing the Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2019, which will establish a new governance model for the skilled trades and apprenticeship system. The College of Trades is winding down and the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities will take over many of its duties. The new system by which trades will be governed has yet to be revealed, and those who represent skilled tradespeople have taken this opportunity to provide their expertise and input to the minister.

“What the government does next will have a major impact on the electrical trade, as well as other trades,” says DeWaard. “By our joint effort, we’ve demonstrated that the entire industry is unified in its concerns with what the government has billed as a ‘portable skills sets’ plan.”

The group that met with the minister represents tens of thousands of electrical workers and their employers within the province. Their main concern is ensuring that the province’s new electrical certification is in line with Red Seal requirements, that apprentices remain highly-trained to ensure their safety and the safety of the public, and that the journeyperson certification of qualification remains recognized and valuable.

Key recommendations

The delegation is asking that the Ontario government

  • not certify any electrical skill set unless that certification is also eligible for Red Seal Endorsement
  • the Ministerial policies describing the activities of the two construction related electrical trades will mirror the current scopes of practice that are set out in Reg. 275/11 of the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act. These scopes of practice reflect the National Occupational Analysis for the electrical trade. They appropriately and succinctly describe the competencies that industry believes an electrician needs to have
  • for the construction‐related electrical trades, all of the activities set out in the Ministerial policy describing their activities will continue to be restricted. This will be a continuation of the current practice. CLAC recognizes, however, the need for exceptions to reflect well‐established practice in the civil sector (e.g., road construction)
  • in light of the importance of public and worker safety, changes to the list of restricted practices will be considered, if at all, only after extensive consultations with all stakeholders, including industry associations, unions, the Electrical Safety Authority, the Ontario Fire Marshal, the Canadian Standards Association (which develops the Canadian Electrical Code on which Ontario’s Electrical Safety Code is based), the Health and Safety Branch of the Ministry of Labour, electrical utilities, and the colleges and training centres that deliver apprenticeship training to the electrical trades

Lisa Helder is CLAC’s Associate Editor. This article was first published online by CLAC;


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