OCOT Leadership Has Been Deliberately Ignoring its Own Policy

electricians on construction siteThe Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) was established with a powerful mandate to enforce the compulsory certification licensing regime. From the very outset it has failed its mandate, which has been very, very disappointing to the IBEW CCO and its members.

Amendments to the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act made in 2017 reaffirmed the mandate of the College to undertake real enforcement.

The amendments directed the College to establish and publish a formal, transparent Compliance and Enforcement Policy. The College did exactly that. And the Minister of Labour gave this new Policy his seal of approval.

The Policy directed the College to enforce the licensing regime, to enforce journeyperson-to-apprentice ratios, to focus on the underground economy, and to protect young workers.

That was 12 months ago. But the new Policy has been deliberately ignored by the leadership of the College.

The Role of “Risk of Harm”

“Risk of Harm” is an elastic concept meant to guide College enforcement activity. The statute requires that the College itself define risk of harm – and the College has done precisely that in its Compliance and Enforcement Policy – a Policy approved by the Minister of Labour.

Nevertheless, the leadership of the College is determined to ignore its own Policy. It wants to stay under the radar and to avoid controversy because it thinks that this is the best way to ensure the survival of the College.

IBEW has long maintained, consistent with a risk of harm analysis, that the College must enforce the full scope of practice of each compulsory trade.

The College must be sensitive to immediate risks of harm to tradespeople performing the work of a compulsory trade and also be sensitive to the inherent risk to consumers and the public if any part of, say, an electrical system is not installed by a registered apprentice or a certified red seal electrician.

Achieving a Certificate of a Qualification in the electrical trade requires 9,000 hours of on the job training as well as three periods of in-class study, training and testing in Ontario’s community college system. As a final step, electricians have to pass rigorous licensing examinations. An important public interest informs and sustains this process.

The public interest is protected and risk of harm is avoided only if certified professionals attend to each part of an electrical installation.

– By James Barry,
Executive Chairman, IBEW CCO

James Barry sat on the OCOT Board of Governors representing employees in Construction industry across the Province of Ontario. He was also appointed Chairman of the Construction Divisional Board from 2011 until August 2017, when his term expired as per legislation.