May 5, 2019
The Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario (ECAO), the Ontario Electrical League (OEL) and the IBEW are joining forces to work with the Ontario government to educate them on why reducing the scope of practice of a 309A Electrician-Construction and Maintenance would risk public safety and deter others from entering the trade.
The Ontario government budget introduced on April 11 includes a proposed framework to replace the Ontario College of Trades. The goal: to modernize the apprenticeship system and promote careers in the skilled trades. The framework also refers to a proposed new model that would potentially allow uncertified individuals to do the work of trades currently deemed compulsory.
The ECAO/OEL/IBEW coalition has committed to developing a research paper to assist the government in understanding what this would mean for the electrician trade. The coalition represents almost the entire electrical industry in Ontario.
“It’s been well over a decade since all three organizations within the electrical industry have united on an issue so this should give the public a sense of its importance,” says OEL President Stephen Sell.
“As employers managing some of the largest electrical contracting projects in the Province of Ontario, we want to ensure that we have highly trained electricians and apprentices so we can deliver our services safely and effectively,” says Graeme Aitken, Executive Director of the Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario (ECAO).
“We hope the government will listen to Ontario’s experts in the electricity industry on why the government’s model does not work for our trade. We have a long history of success in the apprenticeship system and look forward to sharing our experience and knowledge to assist the government in creating a model that is practical, effective and keeps safety top of mind,” says James Barry, Executive Chairman IBEW CCO.
There are 23 trades in the province of Ontario that are designated as compulsory. A compulsory designation means an individual must be a registered apprentice, journeyperson candidate or hold a certificate of qualification as a journeyperson in order to legally do the work (scope of practice) within that trade. This designation is generally used for trades where the work poses a safety risk to the individual workers and the public.
Allowing someone not in an electrical apprenticeship nor a certified journeyperson to do a task currently within the scope of an electrician — regardless of being trained to do that specific task — could put both workers and the public at risk, given the complexities and ever evolving technological advances that impact electrical systems.
The coalition’s third-party research paper will provide a report on this issue utilizing leading experts in the industry. The research paper will focus only on the impact to the electrical trade, recognizing there may be other trades where this model may work.