Bill 70 protest exposes rift between compulsary, non-compulsary trades in Ontario
By Patrick Flannery
Large protests took place at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Nov. 30 over proposed ammendments to Bill 70 that would allow individuals issued a Notice of Contravention by the Ontario College of Trades to appeal that notice to the Ontario Labour Relations Board. In theory, the OLRB could overrule the Notice and allow non-certified tradespeople to perform tasks set aside for licenced trades. The OCT oversees certification of skilled trades in Ontario and the OLRB is part of the Ministry of Labour tasked with adjudicating legal labour disputes. Architectural Glass and Metal Technician is a designated non-compulsary trade under the OCT.
In response to the protests, the Ontario Coalition of Non-Compulsary Trades issued the following statement:
“Yesterday’s protest against changes in rules governing skilled trades workers does not have the support of a significant number of unions in Ontario’s construction trades, according to the Coalition of Non-Compulsory Construction Trades of Ontario.
“The Coalition represents seven major construction unions whose members were affected by a freeze on certifications several years ago. Schedule 17 of Bill 70, the law at the centre of yesterday’s protest, opens the certification process again to these trades.
“‘The reason certain trades oppose Bill 70 is that they will no longer be able to use the Ontario College of Trades as a vehicle to displace workers who belong to the non-compulsory trades,’ said Joseph Maloney, International Vice President for Canada of the Boilermakers union.
“The trades represented in the coalition are the Boilermakers, Bricklayers and Allied Crafts, Carpenters, Heat and Frost Insulators, Ironworkers, Millwrights and Painters and Allied Trades.
“‘Every trade trains its members to the highest standards. They are all skilled workers, for whom safety is paramount,’ said Maloney. ‘For the certified trades to say the other trades are unsafe is not only untrue, but is fear mongering at its finest.’
“‘The amendments put forward by the government will rectify years of discrimination against these trades,’ he said. ‘All we are asking is that our members, who are every bit as skilled as the certified trades, have the same chance to work as everyone else.’
The changes have been discussed through two years of consultation. There have been two reports on the matter, one by Tony Dean in 2015 and a review of the Dean Report by former MPP Chris Bentley earlier this year.
“‘There have been two years of delays in implementing these changes,’ Maloney said. ‘It’s time to move forward.'”