Ontario Budget Requires a Highly Skilled Workforce

Input from experts in skilled trades essential

The IBEW CCO is calling on the Ontario government to ensure it provides proper input from established industry experts before implementing any regulations that impact the electrical trade, particularly to their scope of practice.

“Yesterday’s provincial budget announcement included major investments in infrastructure. This requires properly trained journeypersons who can do the work safely and effectively,” said James Barry, Executive Chairman of the IBEW CCO.

The budget included the announcement of a “skills set” approach for skilled trades that would mean individuals without proper certification could potentially do aspects of work currently restricted to highly skilled trades like electrician. Currently in Ontario, an individual must have a Certificate of Qualification or be a registered apprentice to do the work of anyone in a compulsory trade.

“We appreciate the government is trying to address a large number of trades in one framework, but for a complex trade that has a high level of risk like electrician, we want to ensure that they don’t lower standards, putting workers and the public at risk.”

“I believe it is critical to protect the integrity of the trade of Electrician 309A-Construction and Maintenance, regardless of your affiliation, union or non union, it does not matter. This will be essential to attracting and maintaining apprentices in the trade.”

Barry said he is open to meaningful discussions with the government to address his concerns and to help ensure we have a properly trained workforce for the future and to protect the integrity of skilled trades.

“Our training record speaks for itself. We have the highest completion rates for apprentices in our trade with a strong focus on continual improvement to meet the needs of the future,” added Barry.

Barry also stressed the importance of the nationally recognized Red Seal Program, which needs to be part of any regulatory regime that involves the skilled trades.

He noted the public will only benefit from proper training standards if there is an effective compliance model.

“I believe that it makes sense to have the compliance managed through established regulatory bodies that have knowledge of those trades, such as the Electrical Safety Authority for electricians,” said Barry.

“Our goal has always been to ensure Ontario has the best trained electrical workers who can do work safely and professionally whether it’s wiring airports, hospitals or your home,” added Barry.

“We look forward to working with all interested parties including other compulsory trades to find solutions that promote an effective business model, provide incentives for apprenticeship and protect the value of training and certification,” he added.

Currently in Ontario there are more than 55,000 individuals who hold a 309A electrician’s license and more than 200,000 journeypersons in total who work in trades that are currently compulsory.