Ontario’s building trade unions met for four days in March and April in order to hammer out some of their differences concerning enforcement by the College of Trades of the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act (“OCOTAA”).
The trade unions attending these talks included those opposed to the recent Bill 70 amendments (such as the IBEW, OPTC, Ontario Sheet Metal Workers Conference) and those that supported the amendments (such as the LIUNA and the Carpenters’ union).
The talks were facilitated by the Hon. George Adams, a former Justice of the Ontario Superior Court and formerly Chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
In the end, all trade unions present, including IBEW, agreed to a Memorandum of Advice to be presented to the Minister of Labour and the College of Trades. In the Memorandum, all building trade unions endorsed:
- A vigorous approach to enforcement of those provisions of OCOTAA that prohibit the practice of a compulsory trade by anyone not holding a certificate of qualification in that trade;
- Proper enforcement (for the very first time) of the journeyperson-to- apprentice ratios established under the OCOTAA;
- Future discussions between certain trade unions aimed at producing bilateral written agreements on obviously appropriate work allocations between certain trades;
- A definition of risk of harm that is sensitive to scopes of practice, trade agreements, well established trade practices and OLRB decisions;
- Priorities in College inspection.
The Memorandum is an important first step in repairing the conflict that has divided construction trade unions and is aimed at restoring the credibility of the College of Trades as an institution by and for the trades.
“The priority of the IBEW and its allies will always be to ensure that Certificates of Qualification are valued and respected,” said IBEW CCO Executive Chairman of Membership Development James Barry. “This work will continue as the College approaches its next challenge: the development of a policy regarding the establishment and review of scopes of practice for trades.
Barry continued on by stating , “IBEW and its members must remain disciplined and vigilant as scope of practice issues inevitably arise before the College and the Ontario Labour Relations Board in the months ahead. The struggle continues.”
IBEW CCO Executive Secretary Treasurer John Grimshaw said, “The Queen’s Park demonstration and all of the rallies held around Ontario have sent a very clear message.”
“I would like to thank James Hogarth of the PCTC, James Barry, and Lorne Newick for their contribution through the four long days of meetings. Most of all I would like to thank all of the skilled trade unions for standing up for what we believe in.”