Tony Dean Report and the Future of the Ontario College of Trades
Published on: 23/11/2015
On Friday, November 20, the Government of Ontario published the Tony Dean report on the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT), Supporting a Strong and Sustainable Ontario College of Trades. At the time of publication, the government announced that it would be adopting all of the report's recommendations to reform the College. Legislative changes will be brought forward in the Spring of 2016 in order to move forward with the necessary reforms.
The report makes 31 recommendations with the aim of creating a greater degree of balance at the OCOT by reforming: the current Scopes of Practice (SoP) regulation; the trade certification process; the journeyperson-to-apprenticeship ratio reviews; and, the OCOT enforcement regime. The recommendations, as well as the government's announcement to adopt them wholesale, should be recognized as major successes. Many of the changes recommended are items that OSWCA through the Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance, have been advocating for since the College "went live." A broad overview of the recommendations made in the Report is included below. The full report can be found by clicking on this link.
Scopes of Practice
SoPs describe the procedures, actions, and processes associated with each trade (a "what we do" reference guide). The OCOT developed a SoPs regulation in 2011 that has been used as a jurisdictional enforcement tool for the trades. This became a central area of concern for all construction sectors that employ Labourers, as it was seen to erode their capacity to operate in work areas that overlapped with other trades. It also opened the door for a significant number of jurisdictional disputes to arise between the trades wherever overlap in SoPs existed.
The Dean Report recommends a review and update of the SoPs in conjunction with all affected stakeholders in order to clarify the roles that each trade performs. This will also work to address trade overlap issues and how SoPs should be enforced in the field.
Trade Classification/Certification Review Process
The Trade Certification process, which represented the area of greatest concern for OSWCA, received almost 50% of the proposed reform recommendations. The reforms propose to make the process for reclassifying a trade more transparent, evidenced-based, and framed in the public interest.
Recommendations were plentiful on this issue because the process in place was identified as procedurally unfair and lacking an evidence-based requirement. Recommendations on the process included:
• expanding the review panels to ensure a more fulsome consideration of opinion during the review process;
• allowing for independent research to be conducted around the impact of certifying a trade;
• ensuring that the onus is on the applicant to provide sufficient evidence for a trade's reclassification; and,
• modifying the reclassification requirements to allow a trade to certify only certain components of their SoP, which will address issues with trade overlap.
Similar to the Trade Certification review process, the reforms to the Ratio Review process would bring greater transparency and inclusiveness, as well as a greater reliance on evidence. The Report also recommends that the College continue to collect and post information on each trades' make-up to inform future reviews.
Enforcement and the OLRB
The OCOT Enforcement regime was another area of significant concern for the construction industry, given some of the jurisdictional dispute issues that have arisen over the last 18-months. The Report recommends that the College refocus its enforcement efforts on high-risk activities and target unlicensed workers from practicing compulsory trade work. The recommendations proposed around the SoPs would help to inform the enforcement process by addressing trade overlap issues.
Additionally, a new appeals mechanism at the OLRB has also been proposed to deal with future conflicts between OCOT enforcement and OLRB jurisprudence.
If you have any questions or comments about Dean Report or OSWCA's position around the OCOT, please contact Patrick McManus (905-629-7766 ext. 222 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
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