November 20, 2015 – Today the province, in partnership with the Ontario College of Trades, accepted the recommendations made by former Secretary of Cabinet Tony Dean, in his report, “Supporting a Strong and Sustainable Ontario College of Trades“.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) is encouraged by the findings of the Dean Review and is calling on government to engage with employers as it implements the recommendations outlined in the final report. Among its recommendations, the Review calls on the College of Trades to establish an independent panel to review classification decisions.
“We welcome the Dean Review’s recommendation to establish a new independent process for trade classification,” said Allan O’Dette, President & CEO of the OCC. “The use of independent experts should ensure a strong and clear process that would yield lasting, credible decisions – decisions that are free from interference.”
Earlier this year, the OCC, together with the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce (GOCC) and Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade from across the province, outlined its concerns with the College of Trades in a formal submission to the Dean Review. The OCC noted that in its current form, the College of Trades is not positioned to deliver on many elements of its mandate. Specifically, the OCC expressed its concerns with the bias inherent in the College’s trade classification review process.
In his report Dean noted he was particularly impressed by round-table sessions led by the local Chambers of Commerce in Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Oshawa. “These sessions brought together parties with different backgrounds to create solutions to a broad range of challenges unique to their region,” Dean stated.
The Ontario Government feels Dean's recommendations should help improve the College's processes and clarify its mandate by: supporting the existing Trade Boards to update and bring consistency to all trades' scopes of practice; reviewing how trades are classified through establishment of an independent and evidence-based process that will use risk of harm as a key criterion; establishing clearer and more concise criteria on how journeyperson-to-apprentice ratios are determined and developing an enforcement and compliance committee and appeal process to resolve potential conflicts earlier, as well as ensure enforcement activities are consistently carried out with safety and the public interest in mind.
“We are encouraged by the report’s recommendations,” noted Bob Malcolmson, CEO of the GOCC, “however we have outstanding concerns about the College’s lack of focus on promoting the skilled trades and the impact that high journeyperson-to-apprentice ratios are having on the skills gap.”
“The Dean Review’s findings are the first of many necessary steps towards reform,” said O’Dette. “Going forward, the College needs to put a laser-like focus on promotion of the skilled trades among the province’s youth. Currently, nearly one in three employers is unable to fill a job because they cannot find someone with the right qualifications. That gap must be filled.”
The OCC also noted that it will continue to press government on its members’ concerns around journeyperson-to-apprentice ratios and the ratio review panel process.
The Government of Ontario has committed to introduce legislation in the spring that would enact Mr. Dean's recommendations. The OCC has committed to working with the government and organizations like the Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance to ensure that legislative changes reflect the concerns of the employer community.