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Dean Review Consultation Questions

Written submission to Dean review

Submission number: DR-38

Name of organisation making submission: DR-38 Ontario Pipe Trades Council

Responses to questions in submission form


Section A - The Public Interest in this Review

1. What do you understand by public interest?

The public interest is the health and safety of Ontario residents, visitors and workers, including environmental concerns, economic impacts and standard of living. With that in mind, we believe it is in the public’s interest to have a balanced civil society where people are respected and the concerns of the people are taken over the concerns of special interests. This includes policy and directives that ensure Ontario is built safely and efficiently, using highly trained, skilled and where applicable, licenced tradespeople.


2. Who should the College serve? Who is “the public” in the public interest and what groups make up the public?

For Ontario’s pipe trades, the public interest is quite literally every citizen of and visitor to the Province of Ontario. Everybody who drinks water is a member of our public. Every worker in a building with a sprinkler system is our public. Every resident of a senior’s home, every patient in a hospital and every student and teacher in a school — these people, all of Ontario, are our public. Ultimately, that is whom the College serves, but it does so by enforcing the rules and regulations of the skilled trades, building the base of apprentices, ensuring only licenced workers are performing compulsory tasks and protecting against the growth and prosperity of the underground economy.


3. How should the College make decisions in the public interest where different segments of the public may have opposing interests?

Key to this is transparency. The ultimate goal is to protect the most vulnerable first, with a decision-making apparatus that recognizes and respects the knowledge and experience of the people working in the skilled trades. Recommendations on decisions to be made by the College should start at the Trade Board level, from the tradespeople who best understand the realities of the issue and daily environment in which it is applicable. The Board of Governors of the College — composed of fair representation of the various skilled trades and the public — should make a decision based on the trade board recommendation. We also believe it is necessary to develop a system that weights the different interests who are affected by the decisions of the College of Trades. For example, the interest of the trades should outweigh those of employers. A key element of how decisions are made is who actually makes the decision. For example, the former Construction Safety Association of Ontario (now known as the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association) used a weighting model that can be co-opted to reflect the current reality.


4. Is the College currently protecting the public interest?

The College’s role is still evolving, but it is getting legs under it through enforcement. However, we believe the College can better protect the public interest with additional means. Ratio reviews and licencing and training standards should help ensure only qualified workers who will respect our health and safety goals are certified to work in Ontario, which will ensure we get the best value for our public infrastructure expenditures and help combat the underground economy. Areas where the College can improve its service to the public interest include: • Improving the structure of the decision-making process to ensure people with first-hand knowledge of the issue, concern or trade are intimately involved; • Refining the complaints process to better sift through frivolous matters; and • Working through jurisdictional conflicts to ensure tradespeople play a greater role in making recommendations to the College.


5. How should the College advance the public interest?

As mentioned in our answer to Question #3, it all starts with getting tradespeople more involved in the decisions coming from the College. This is standard practice in other professional colleges, like health care, accounting and law. But we also feel there is more the College can do on the public education front, better educating consumers about the value of Ontario’s trained and licenced skilled trades workers. This could include an easy-access database on Ontario’s skilled tradespeople.





Section B - Issues Related to Scopes of Practice (SoPs)

6. What impact do SoPs in regulation have on your daily work activities or on the way you conduct business? What aspects of an SoP are important to the work of your trade? Please explain.

Scopes of practice are hugely influential in our daily work. The SoP defines what we do.


7. Do you agree with the suggestion that trades may have core elements as well as peripheral elements?

No. All of the elements of our work are core. Even tasks that are rare are still core to the job that we do in that they require the skills and expertise of the core elements that we do every day. All of our work involves the understanding of complete systems. With that said, if there is to be a process that determines what is a core element of a trade and what is a peripheral element, what matters to Ontario’s pipe trades is that determination is made by people in the trade.


8. What should be the key elements of an SoP? In particular, should the SoP for a trade list all of the tasks, activities or functions in which an apprentice should be trained, only those that are unique to the trade, or only those that may pose a risk of harm to the public, tradespeople or other workers on the job? Please explain.

We are concerned about this question, as it seems to imply that training standards should be developed from the SoP; however they are not, nor should they be. Training standards come from a thorough occupational analysis. The SoP should include all of the tasks performed by a trade; as apprentices learn their scope of practice they must understand the entire system in which they are working. For example, all five of the pipe trades we represent use hangers, but they are used in different ways and to different standards depending on the trade in which you work.


9. How should a review or change in SoP be carried out?

It should be driven by the trades. A review or change should start at the trade board with input from the divisional boards.


10. Can or should the existing SoP provisions support the College’s diverse functions (e.g., apprenticeship training, enforcement, classification reviews)? Please explain.

The SoP is the core of everything in a trade, but it is not necessarily a black-and-white document. Can an SoP support the College’s functions? Yes. Should it? That is more complicated; as we mentioned previously, this should only be done if the tradespeople are the ones tasked with redefining the SoPs.


11. Should the entire SoP for a compulsory trade be enforceable or be subject to enforcement? Please explain.

Of course it should. It defines the trade. As mentioned, all specific work relates to a larger mechanical system. There are no benign elements in the work that we do. If only certain elements of an SoP for a compulsory trade were subject to enforcement, the end result will be the erosion of that trade and an increase in risk to the public, workers and the environment.


12. Could the College benefit from a distinct list of compulsory activities that may pose a risk of harm to the public, tradespeople or other workers on the job? Please explain.

We are concerned this could lead to divisions in select areas where tasks between the trades are interrelated. What is important to recognize is the need to understand the entirety of the system in which you are working. For example, a contractor was recently hired to do work at a major steel company, but in the process of removing hoses he caused an explosion because he shut off the water supply to the furnaces. This is the kind of accident that can happen if you allow uncertified workers to perform tasks that are part of a compulsory trade. Where there is overlap, we believe the trades can resolve any jurisdictional matters that may arise. Again, the key is having knowledgeable, skilled practitioners making the decisions.


13. What is your understanding of what an overlap between SoPs is?

There may be similar tasks in different trades, but each has a unique approach depending on their needs and requirements. One place where there is significant overlap across the trades — and there should be — is in health and safety, for example as it pertains to fall safety or rigging.


14. Do overlaps between SoPs in regulation have an impact on your daily work or on the way you conduct business? Please explain.

No. Our tradespeople are professionals who have shown capacity to work with their partners in other trades and unions to complete projects safely and efficiently.


15. Does the application of the third legal interpretation principle on overlapping SoPs pose a risk of harm to the public, tradespeople, or other workers on the job? Please explain. If so, what can and should be done about it?

Respondent did not provide a response to this question





Section C - Classification or Reclassification of Trades as Compulsory or Voluntary

16. What makes a compulsory trade compulsory and what makes a voluntary trade voluntary?

In short, the act of the trade. The determination of what is a compulsory trade needs to be made by the people in that trade, and it should be a fair process that will establish the principles of worker and public safety and environmental protection. Criteria should also be weighted to ensure the public interest is safeguarded.


17. Is the current classification of trades as either compulsory or voluntary aligned with the College’s duty to serve and protect the public interest?

There are jobs in the public interest that should be licensed to protect the public, but as referenced above, this determination needs to be made by the trades.


18. Is it reasonable to assume that there may be elements in the SoP for a trade that are inherently hazardous or that may pose a risk of harm to the public, tradespeople, or other workers on the job?

Yes. That’s why they are compulsory and have trained and certified skilled tradespeople doing them.


19. Could compulsory certification be limited to either the core elements of a trade or those tasks, activities, or functions that may pose a risk of harm to the public, tradespeople or other workers on the job? What kind of impact would these approaches have on your daily work or on the way you conduct business?

No. A trade is either compulsory or it isn’t. There is inherent risk is carving out pieces of a job that may not seem compulsory on their own, but taken in the context of the entire job they have elements of risk attached to them. Trades are designated as compulsory for a reason, and those who are certified to do compulsory work have undergone rigorous training to understand the entirety of the system in which they work. When untrained and uncertified people are tasked to perform the work of a compulsory trade, the risk increases dramatically. For example, a Steamfitter is the only trade that is trained and experienced to work on steam piping and systems. An understanding of the science of thermodynamics can make even opening a valve a specialty when doing startup on steam units. However, if done incorrectly an explosion can result because valves that are opened too fast can fracture, damaging piping and injuring workers. This is just one example of risks the average person would not associate with the process of opening a simple valve. It is vitally important that compulsory trades remain whole.


20. Should the College continue to rely on an adjudicative review panel approach (i.e., the Ontario Labour Relations Board model) or should a different model be considered? Please explain.

Most of the problems with the current structure come from inconsistencies in rulings. Arguments that have worked for one trade haven’t worked for another, and it is felt that much of this inconsistency comes from the fact that there is no weighting process for segments of the submissions made by the trades for ratio reviews or compulsory trade designation. It is logical to us that the health and safety of workers and the public should carry more weighting in a submission than something like the impact certification would have on WSIB claims or labour mobility. In our opinion, the problem ultimately comes down to the composition of the panels and their training/experience in the trades. Where they more knowledgeable of the trades and better trained as panellists, it is likely the there would be more consistency in rulings coming from the College.


21. How should expert opinion be obtained?

Through the trades. We need the ability to bring in Subject Matter Experts to meet the criteria required by the College to be classified as a compulsory trade.


22. Are the current criteria for trade classification reviews set out in O. Reg. 458/11 consistent with the public interest? Please explain.

Please see our response to question 16. Our concern is with the process in determining these criteria and the lack of involvement and input from the trades.


23. Are the criteria specific, clear and measurable enough to inform you of what data and evidence are needed to meet those criteria?

No. For compulsory trade reviews, it is impossible to meet the required criteria without doing a long-term study of the trade to determine the effects of unlicensed workers in the field. Like many of the problems we have cited in this submission, it stems from a lack of involvement of tradespeople. The criteria for the reviews were developed by the College and then put to us; no trades were on the committee writing the criteria.


24. Are the existing criteria the right criteria?

Some of the criteria are the right criteria, but that’s not the point. It’s not weighted and the wrong people are determining the criteria.





Section D - Decisions of the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB)

25. Do the scopes of practice (SoPs) in regulation reflect the way in which work is actually assigned in your trade or sector?

Typically, yes.


26. Do you agree with the notion that most jurisdictional disputes arise from peripheral elements of the trades? Please explain.

No. For explanation, please see our response to Question 7.


27. What consideration should the College give, if any, to the decisions made by the OLRB in jurisdictional or work assignment disputes under the Labour Relations Act? If the College were to adopt the OLRB's decisions, what impact would that have on your trade and the way you conduct business? Please explain.

There is a risk in the College adopting OLRB decisions, as the OLRB is often adjudicating between trade unions and not specific trades. There is also the reality that a decision made by the OLRB in one part of the province may be based on local realities that don’t exist elsewhere in Ontario; to bind all trades to a decision that may be bad for them because of geographic differences is patently unfair and potentially dangerous. We prefer the College continue to adjudicate on its own merits, with a set of criteria based on public safety, worker safety, health and the environment that are developed by tradespeople and for tradespeople.





Section E - General Response and Comments

28. Please provide additional comments below, if any.

Respondent did not provide a response to this question