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Dean Review Consultation Questions

Written submission to Dean review

Submission number: DR-46B

Name of organisation making submission: DR-46B Ontario Glazier Apprenticeship and Training Committee

Executive Summary

The Ontario Glazier Apprenticeship and Training Committee (OGATC) is comprised of members from the Architectural Glass & Metal Contractors Association (AGMCA) and the International Union of Painters & Allied Trades (IUPAT).  We represent a significant portion of the primary participants (apprentices, journeypersons and contractors) in the Architectural Glass and Metal Technician (Glazier) trade in Ontario.  Via OGATC we have been leaders in delivering on a long-standing common interest of increasing the health & safety performance, improving apprenticeship and journeyperson training and certification system, improving on-the-job performance, improving protection of consumers and creating economic benefits in the glazing trade.

The glazier trade is voluntary and its current Scope of Practice (SoP) is defined by the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act (OCTAA), as:
The performance of any of the following activities constitutes work that is part of the trade of architectural glass and metal technician:
    1.  Laying out, fabricating, assembling and installing door and window frames, store fronts, wall facings, curtain walls, partitions, architectural glass fronts, auto glass and specialty glass, plastic and related products.
    2.  Cutting, fitting and installing glass in frames by means of seals, sealants and fasteners.
    3.  Installing window and door operators and related hardware.
    4.  Reading and interpreting designs, drawings, diagrams, specifications and manufacturers’ literature relating to the activities described in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3.  O. Reg. 331/07, s. 2.

The College of Trades (CoT) was created by the Ontario government in 2009 via the OCTAA and became operational in 2013.  The CoT is a self-governing organization that largely replaces MTCU administration of the trades.  Amongst various valued aspects of the CoT is the implementation of an open, public, formal and structured process for trades to change their classification from voluntary to compulsory (and vice-versa).

OGATC has been a strong advocate for the creation of the CoT (as we believe the trades should be self-administering), and reflecting our position we were very engaged in both the Tim Armstrong and Kevin Whittaker Reviews.   Amongst current actions our members are members of the Glazier Trade Board (which is a very positive force within the CoT), our GTA LAC is a member of the CoT and we have participated in our trade’s Ratio Review and other CoT events.  While we have been very disappointed in some CoT actions, we unlike others, have chosen not to make public relations campaigns opposing to, and politicizing, the CoT as we view this as only self-interested and harmful to the CoT and Public Interest.

We are surprised and disappointed that another Review is being executed regarding the administration of the trades in Ontario, particularly as the CoT is just starting and has yet to fully define and secure its place as per the mandate of the OCTAA. We believe that while the CoT is experiencing various “growing pains” (which we expected it would) that overall the CoT has been positive and we expect it to become more positive as it becomes more competent and experienced.  In our opinion, due process delayed is due process denied, and we believe this Review will cause harm to many trades as various aspects of the CoT may likely be suspended for eighteen months or more, which to us is unacceptable.

It is our hope that this Review is the last one for a very long time, and reflecting our belief in, and ongoing support of, the CoT we are making a submission.  As with our Armstrong and Whittaker submissions, we put forth recommendations for the general betterment of the CoT and all stakeholders, and not to primarily serve our own interests (except to prevent potential harm to the CoT).

Our submission addresses each of the following aspects of the Review mandate regarding:
a) opportunities to clarify and improve:

  • the manner in which the College makes decisions on issues related to scopes of practice of trades and how scopes of practice are used to support the performance of objects and functions under OCTAA that include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • enforcement of the prohibitions in Part II of OCTAA, including but not limited to  decisions regarding skill overlaps between scopes of practice;
  • establishment of apprenticeship programs;
  • review and amendment of scopes of practice; and
  • the process and criteria prescribed in O. Reg. 458/11 under OCTAA including the process and criteria for the classification or reclassification of trades as compulsory or voluntary; and

b) what consideration the College should give, if any, to the decisions made by the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) in jurisdictional or work assignment disputes under the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (LRA),

Our submission focuses on recommending potential improvements to the CoT, the way it is led and governed, the way it operates and is organized and the in-use Panel review processes. Our submission reflects our best abilities, and our proper time, attention and effort.

We respond to every question put forth by Tony Dean but we believe the primary driver of this current Review is to evaluate the Panel Review (Ratio and Trade Status) strategy, process, operations and decisions.  We have reviewed in detail every decision made by every Review Panel and agree with every decision made.  We believe these Panels, which are open, public, structured and impartial to all participants, have worked well and within the mandate, structure and process established.  We are fully satisfied with these Panels and prefer no changes be made.

We hope and expect that the output of this Review is based solely on a public process and public participation, where various positions and points of view can be properly vetted and discussed, as we view that as the only way to strengthen the CoT.  We hope and expect there will be no “non-public” (or private, closed room) interference with the Review process and output, which we believe has occurred with, and harmed, the CoT in other matters.  We look forward to participating in public discussions of matters being evaluated in this Review.

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Review Objective, Timeline, Resources and Questions

As we understand:
The objective of the Tony Dean review is to provide MTCU, the government and the CoT with analysis, advice and recommendations regarding:
a) opportunities to clarify and improve:

  • the manner in which the College makes decisions on issues related to scopes of practice of trades and how scopes of practice are used to support the performance of objects and functions under OCTAA that include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • enforcement of the prohibitions in Part II of OCTAA, including but not limited to  decisions regarding skill overlaps between scopes of practice;
  • establishment of apprenticeship programs;
  • review and amendment of scopes of practice; and
  • the process and criteria prescribed in O. Reg. 458/11 under OCTAA including the process and criteria for the classification or reclassification of trades as compulsory or voluntary; and

b) what consideration the College should give, if any, to the decisions made by the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) in jurisdictional or work assignment disputes under the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (LRA).

This initiative will be completed to meet two timeline objectives:

  1. A draft final report will be provided to MTCU by August 2015. 
  2. A final report will be provided to the Minister, Deputy Minister, Chair of the Board and CEO/Registrar no later than October 2015.

Tony Dean will hire his own experts and use MTCU staff as required.

Tony Dean requested submissions responding to twenty-seven questions in the following areas of review:

  • The Public Interest in This Review
  • Issues Related to Scopes of Practice
  • Classification or Reclassification of Trades as Compulsory or Voluntary
  • Decisions of the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

1.2    Our Submission Structure

Our submission addresses all the objectives of this review and responds to all questions asked.  We have structured our submission as follows:

  • Each Section is directly related to each review area
    • The Public Interest in This Review (Section 2 of our submission)
    • Issues Related to Scopes of Practice (Section 3 of our submission)
    • Classification or Reclassification of Trades as Compulsory or Voluntary (Section 4 of our submission)
    • Decisions of the Ontario Labour Relations Board (Section 5 of our submission)
  • Within each of our sections we provide introductory comment (if appropriate) and then respond to each question individually
  • Each Tony Dean question is numbered exactly the same by us.

1.3    Introductory Comments

OGATC (AGMCA and IUPAT):
The Ontario Glazing Apprenticeship and Training Committee (OGATC) is comprised of the Architectural Glass & Metal Contractors Association (AGMCA) and the International Union of Painters & Allied Trades (IUPAT).  We represent a significant portion of the primary participants (journeypersons, apprentices and employers) in the Architectural Glass and Metal Technician (Glazier) trade in Ontario.  Via OGATC we have been leaders in delivering on a long-standing common interests of increasing the health & safety performance, improving apprenticeship and journeyperson training and certification system, improving on-the-job performance of glaziers, improving protection of consumers and creating economic benefits in the glazing trade.

Our members are, and have continuously been so for decades, fully engaged to continuously improve the trade and adapt it to the marketplace’s ever changing needs and demands.  Our members sit on Local Apprenticeship Committees (LAC’s), the Glazier Trade Board (GTB) (and previously Provincial Advisory Committee (PAC’s)) and are involved with the Red Seal structure, and other glazier trade organizations across Canada and in the USA. We have been involved in all the leadership aspects of our trade including setting the Scope of Practice (SoP) for the trade, setting the Apprentice Training Standard and Curriculum Standard, establishing Trade Exams, etc.  We have been an effective advocate for establishing the College of Trades (CoT), and expect to be an effective advocate to this Review.  We fundamentally believe in the value and benefits of the CoT, and believe it is the best approach to the outcomes and benefits we desire (and consequently are against any approaches that we believe will diminish the CoT and the trades in Ontario).

The glazier trade is voluntary and its current scope of practice is defined, under the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act (OCTAA), as:
The performance of any of the following activities constitutes work that is part of the trade of architectural glass and metal technician:
    1.  Laying out, fabricating, assembling and installing door and window frames, store fronts, wall facings, curtain walls, partitions, architectural glass fronts, auto glass and specialty glass, plastic and related products.
    2.  Cutting, fitting and installing glass in frames by means of seals, sealants and fasteners.
    3.  Installing window and door operators and related hardware.
    4.  Reading and interpreting designs, drawings, diagrams, specifications and manufacturers’ literature relating to the activities described in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3.  O. Reg. 331/07, s. 2.

We have been fully committed to the CoT and making it a valuable organization providing real benefits to the trades in Ontario.  We have actively, fully and effectively participated in this process since before the initial Tim Armstrong review (we strongly advocated for such a review), including the Kevin Whittaker review.  For instance, we actively worked to reverse the initial OCTAA draft legislation that very erroneously excluded apprentices from the Act.

Members of our organizations are active on the GTB.  The GTB has been a “thought leader” within the CoT.  For instance, the GTB helped drive the CoT to begin to evaluate trade entry education credentials and we have been leading the process to better integrate apprentices into the CoT.

Additionally, our GTA LAC (now referred to as a sponsor group) is a member of the CoT.  The LAC is a member as:

  • it is reflects our advocacy position to Kevin Whittaker regarding who should be a CoT member (any person or group employing or sponsoring apprentices)
  • we determined it would be advantageous for the LAC and apprentices (it gains us membership rights)
  • we support the CoT and this is a real, tangible show of support
  • it demonstrates our commitment to the glazier trade, and importantly glazier apprentices
  • it is a demonstration of leadership and differentiation for supporters and non-supporters of the CoT (the choice to become a sponsor member is currently voluntary)
  • it provides us an additional marketing tool.

We exist in the Construction Sector of the Ontario economy and within the Construction Division of the CoT.  We have an expert understanding (and the best in Ontario) of the glazier trade, we possess strong knowledge and understanding of the Construction Sector and trades and a lesser knowledge and understanding of the non-construction trades.  Our submission should be read with this frame in mind.

Due process delayed is due process denied:
Having been fully engaged in this process since before Tim Armstrong we state categorically and without hesitation that due process delayed is due process denied.  Our trade has been waiting patiently for the opportunity to potentially become a compulsory certified trade for over seven years.  We have worked hard to gain “certainty of due process” and believe it had been achieved, and willingly would risk the “uncertainty of outcome”.  During this period we have faithfully and with good faith intent been a positive force of support for the CoT.

We rightfully and with full faith believed that with the implementation of the CoT (after many years of delay before its actual implementation and during which time we were patiently silent) that the opportunity for a time effective review of potentially becoming a compulsory trade was finally before us.  We are very disappointed to be faced again with a significant delay that lacks real purpose and no issues facing the CoT rise to the level of the need for an independent review. 

We are particularly very disappointed that this review is occurring after only ONE Trade Status review has occurred, and after a decision we fully supported.
While it is apparent to us that the government of Ontario was discussing  various issues with various stakeholders leading to this Review we are very disappointed that we were not consulted, nor do we believe any real outreach occurred.  Had we been contacted we would’ve expressed our satisfaction and could hopefully helped put a stop to this Review before it started.

We expect that due to this Review we will be delayed many more years.  We believe this wait is unconscionably and unacceptable and submit that we have been denied our due process.

Definitions of key concepts used:
Throughout our submission the following definitions of key concepts are used:

  • A journeyperson is: Only a tradesperson holding a Certificate of Qualification (CoQ), whether they are or are not a member of the CoT, or possess sufficient hours of work and skill/knowledge to that equivalent of a journeyperson.  We expressly reject any other notion, including the notion that anyone doing the work inherent in any voluntary trade can self-claim to be a journeyperson.1
  • An apprentice is: Only a person who possesses a current Registered Training Agreement (RTA) with Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) and is a member of the CoT.  No other definition is acceptable to us. Employers who claim to employ young persons who don’t possess those two specific defining attributes are not employing apprentices but rather young workers.
  • Employer/sponsor: Unless otherwise specified employers are those organizations employing journeypersons and/or apprentices.  Sponsors, can be employers, but these organizations hold RTA’s with apprentices and are responsible to ensure the apprentice is provided requisite training.

These definitions are as per, and consistent with, the OCTAA.  We provide these definitions as there has been an ongoing campaign to redefine, reshape and repurpose these concepts to meet, we believe, the objectives of various Special Interest Groups (SIG’s) who prefer to use “watered-down” concepts that may better help them to redefine plans, decisions, actions, etc. of the CoT, MTCU, etc..  We fundamentally reject any attempt to repurpose these common definitions in general, and specifically reject any attempted repurposing for this Review.

The Place of the CoT in Competitive Marketplaces:
In our submission to Kevin Whittaker and related to the design of the CoT, we indicated that a primary risk to a valuable CoT was going to be its ability to effectively administer trades that existed in competitive marketplaces and industries.  This is one of many critical differences that makes the environment the CoT exists in far more complex and challenging when compared to other professional Colleges (Teachers, Nurses, etc.).  The competitive marketplace risk needed to be reflected in the CoT’s governance and leadership, and organizational structure, strategies, etc.  Not only are there work and income factors at play for individuals, but likely more critical is that corporate profits are potentially (dis)advantaged depending on the actions of the CoT and consequently these Private Interests will push continuously to influence CoT actions in whatever means that best suits their corporate objectives. There are an array of corporate and organizational structures, missions and strategies working in the trades in Ontario; some of which are supportive of the CoT, some of which are indifferent and some of which are completely and vigorously oppositional to the CoT.  We expect that for many entities support or opposition of the CoT is inherently driven by their belief whether the CoT can be used to further their Private Interest objectives.  We accept this fact but unfortunately, we don’t believe the design of the CoT fully embraced and reflected some of these critical factors.

It is unfortunate that the CoT has gained significant and very committed opponents, who have chosen to work outside the CoT to influence it to, in our opinion, further their Private Interest corporate objectives.  Whilst we have not been fully satisfied with many of the actions and decisions of the CoT (some that have a more reaching and significantly negative impact on the trades than any Panel decision to date) we have chosen to proactively work within the prescribed and normal processes.  We have found the CoT to be a professional and well intentioned organization, and we fully support the openness and public process commitments.  We believe only via openness does the CoT have a future. 

We specifically reject and admonish opponents of the CoT who have used non-public actions to initiate this Review to further their narrow Private Interest competitive marketplace interests in opposition to the general “good” the CoT is meant to generate.  We view this Review as a continuation of the non-stop attacks against the CoT by these SIG’s.  For instance, the CoT suffered harm via a self-interested, silly and failed “Stop the Tax” public relations campaign whose purpose we believe was to primarily turn public opinion against the CoT and the fees its members paid.  We find troubling, but consistent, that crafters and supporters of the “Stop the Tax” campaign likely included many who applauded a previous government’s strategy to offload government services to structures like the CoT while claiming that the CoT member fees would cause consumer inflation (even as cost was being moved from MTCU to the CoT).  We fundamentally believe only those who consume trade services should pay for administration of the trades.  We have concern that many opponents prefer a CoT so neutered and constrained as to be completely ineffectual and irrelevant (for example, no effective enforcement capability) enabling them to behave unconstrained and acquire undeserved benefits.

CoT Organizational Competence and the Tony Dean Review:
We believe that the items to be reviewed do not rise to the level of extraordinary importance or Public Interest concern as requiring the need for a government initiated independent review.  Our solution to these issues are simple and more effective, if the concerns are sufficient and legitimate that it caused the government to effect this review, and if the leadership of the CoT was unable to design, implement and execute effective strategies to meet these concerns internally (as any for profit organization would be expected to) the proper solution in our opinion is to employ a CoT leadership group who can execute these tasks.

Additionally, to the best of our knowledge, there is no previously expressed concern from the CoT regarding these issues that was expressed to the Trade Boards or the membership regarding most of the issues of this review.  We are deeply concerned that while the CoT was established to be independent and well serve its members and the public, normal internal due processes seem not to be followed. 

The CoT has previously utilized various processes to gain input from stakeholders and the public on issues of concern to them.  For example, when the CoT was setting member fees it established and executed a process to gather input regarding fees.  While we found that process deficient (for example we would have preferred if the CoT had provided some economic data on the cost to operate the CoT to help us craft a better informed recommendation, etc.) it was a CoT process and within their “normal” authority, etc.  We believe all the issues identified should have been dealt with by the CoT itself (which we don’t believe it did) and if the CoT had determined (after an appropriate engagement process with members, non-members, etc.) it would be best to have Tony Dean do an independent review then the CoT should’ve hired Tony Dean.

We do unfortunately see this Review as a consistent theme of external interference with the CoT which has previously resulted in negative consequences for many stakeholders and positive consequence for a few SIG’s.  We believe their opposition (based on their desire, we expect, for their Private Interest financial gain) is focused on two specific issues: a deep concern and fear that any voluntary trade is made compulsory and a deep dislike for CoT enforcement.

We believe that the CoT has been under consistent attack since its inception by those who prefer the CoT not exist or be so neutered as to be functionally irrelevant.  While this situation has had many negative impacts, we suspect the CoT’s progression to become the organization it should become has been substantially harmed.  We suspect the leadership of the CoT spends inordinate energy and time on defending itself at the cost of advancing itself. 

Lastly, we are fundamentally opposed to suspending “normal course” CoT business (like conducting Trades Classifications Reviews) which we know harms our glazing trade, and likely other trades, due to the time delay itself.  We are also fundamentally against any Review related (or imposed) constraints being placed on the CoT’s enforcement capability, as we believe (and are fairly certain) that a significant amount of work that is restricted to compulsory certified tradespeople  (journeypersons or apprentices) is being done illegally, to the harm of the public and many CoT stakeholders.  Our recommendations reflect this baseline perspective.

2.0    The Public Interest in this Review

We believe this is a complex and multi-faceted issue that may not now or ever have a great long-term solution (without government leadership).  The Public Interest debate may best be left to a general sense as to what the Public Interest is that will overtime become better defined as the CoT grows and acts in specific ways.  This approach may enable the most long-term flexibility.  Having reviewed the OCTAA we conclude that while the Public Interest was not defined, it was not an error but a purposeful omission (as many definitions were included in the OCTAA).  Below we provide our introductory commentary on this issue.

Firstly, if we interpret Tony Dean’s comments correctly, we believe that the CoT has not provided a usable definition of the Public or Public Interest to its members or the Public, and this is, in our opinion, a failure of leadership.  Requesting unqualified opinion from members and the Public will likely generate ineffective responses, and we are left to hope that collectively we can come to some definition.  We offer this as a comparable, early in its life the CoT requested input regarding a member fee structure for the CoT.  They however failed to provide any data regarding the likely cost to operate the CoT.  Consequently, responses were likely less effective than they could have been, as there was no baseline to comment against, and we were dissatisfied that this information wasn’t provided (if in fact it existed).  Similarly, how can the CoT identify “Protect the Public Interest” as its first long-range strategic goal (and we expect them implement a strategy to achieve that goal), if it hasn’t defined a) who the Public is and b) what the Public Interest is.  We believe this discussion would have been more useful had the CoT provided its definition of the Public and Public Interest and asked for commentary on their definition.

Secondly, we do believe that the CoT, via legislation (OCTAA), has established many internal processes, strategies, etc. to serve the Public Interest.  The Enforcement capability and actions, the public registry of members, the professional conduct standards, the inclusive and open invitation for submissions to Review Panels, etc. are all structures, processes, etc. that provide workable notions that the CoT is working for and of the Public and Public Interest.  For instance, when the CoT Enforcement Officers visit worksites and inform, educate, and sometimes lay charges, we conclude with 100% certainty this is protection for the Public and in the Public Interest.  Similarly, as the Public can make complaint against any CoT member, and from what we know complaints have been made, this helps define (for working purposes) what the Public Interest is.

Thirdly, our concern is that this Review is not the proper forum to have this discussion.  We believe this issue is important but somewhat complex, rhetorical and having specific legal boundaries and consequences beyond any submission recommendation, and beyond our initial hoped for outcomes.  This issue in our opinion does not need resolution to be able to change/improve Enforcement, Compulsory Certification Reviews, SoP’s, etc. We believe most honest persons who make submissions without a specific bias or private/personal benefits agenda will likely have some locus of agreeable notions of what the Public and Public Interest is.

Lastly, we do believe, based on CoT performance to date, a formal, properly expressed Public Interest mandate may serve the CoT and Public well.  We provide previous CoT action as the potential value of this issue.  In our opinion, the CoT made a serious blunder and error in judgement when, as it was being implemented and without any public debate, enabled journeypersons in voluntary trades to not be members of the CoT (overriding the OCTAA in this matter)1. This action, which we suspect advantaged certain SIG’s, has created various risks of negative consequences that the Public is now exposed to that are inappropriate given the CoT’s mandate.  We provide a couple of examples of these risks:

  • Apprentices must be members of the CoT and apprentices typically work under the direction of a journeyperson.  Consequently, if sub-standard work occurs the apprentice can be held to legal account yet the journeyperson can’t, which is unacceptable to us.
  • Similarly, journeypersons in voluntary trades who are members of the CoT can be held to legal account yet journeyperson who aren’t members of the CoT and may work in the same crew can’t be held to account (for this and other reasons we expect likely less than 1% of journeypersons in voluntary trades are members of the CoT).2
  • Nor can any person in the Public lodge any complaint against a journeyperson who is not a member of the CoT.
  • Finally, it creates havoc with apprentice ratios, as the OCTAA describes a specific regime for this issue. 

We believe this one action by the CoT has created more risk of harm to the Public than any decision by any Review Panel will ever have. We also reject any notion of the CoT to redefine and introduce new classes of persons to “backfill” around this significant error in judgement.  We understand this was mandated to the CoT and this type of external interference is a significant risk to any CoT identified concept of what the Public Interest is or is not.

We recommend this discussion be delayed until the Board of Governors (BoG) of the CoT first provide their legally workable definition of the Public and the Public Interest, and rate how their actions have adhered to these concepts.  Only then should the Public be asked to provide commentary on the definition of the Public Interest.

1) What do you understand by public interest?

Below we provide our thoughts regarding Public Interest. Our purpose is to help define the Public and Public Interest to help better focus the CoT on matters of most importance.  To help us first define the Public we went through a basic process of setting various trades scenarios and then determining who in that scenario we considered the Public to not be/be. 

We suggest this is profile of the Public:

  • The Public and Public Interest while a general concept does require being viewed through the specific environment of the trades and specific trades’ events/actions.  Some persons/SIGS’s have, we believe for Private Interest gain, tried to make the existence of the CoT (and/or its mandate) a Public Interest debate and we reject this notion out of hand.  This debate was settled when the OCTAA became law, and the continued efforts in this regard should be rejected out of hand.
  • Individuals and non-governmental organizations (of all sorts and types) are NOT the Public when their specific Private Interests are the focus of any CoT action and this concept includes all CoT members and non-members who are trades stakeholders.  For instance, in the Sprinkler Installer Compulsory Certification Review any worker engaged directly (irrespective of work performed or company worked for, etc.) and any organization engaged directly or indirectly with the installation of Sprinklers we suggest are not the Public.  Workers would include those directly installing, those supervising installation, those inspecting the installation, etc.  The Public, very broadly, could be/are all those persons who are not engaged or have no Private Interests in specific trades/trades activity.  However, this concept is so broad as to lack real actionable outcomes.
  • Our glazing trade, in the recent past, experienced a very problematic issue of falling glass in downtown Toronto (and elsewhere). In this instance, we would define the Public as any person walking/driving or otherwise on the streets in downtown Toronto, or likely to be, who are directly impacted by or take on an inappropriate and/or externally initiated risk of being struck by falling glass, any property owner (i.e. end consumer) who may see their property values reduced, etc. due to any specific action by a glazier or the glazing trade3.  Other citizens of Ontario not so impacted or not facing real risk are not the Public, in this instance.  If the issue of falling glass risk is determined to be a more general glazing trade issue (e.g. deficient training for instance or general glass manufacturing problem) then the concept of the Public broadens out.
  • Members of the CoT are also members of the Public, when their non-specific trades’ life is impacted.  So for instance, a carpenter who hires an electrician to do electrical work in her house is the Public.
  • There are other concepts of the Public (any Ontario taxpayer whose taxes help fund the CoT or training of apprentices, etc.) but we prefer to focus generally as we have described above.

We conclude the Public is any person who actually, or faces a credible potential risk of, being impacted by the trades (work of tradespeople, etc) in Ontario, and is not the tradespersons (or other (in)directly involved parties) etc. directly engaged in the work.

Having defined a workable notion of the Public we suggest the Public Interest is a broader concept than the Public and define it as any action (or planned action, etc.) of the CoT that does, will or may impact on the well-being (whether general or specific which includes ever evolving concepts of health, safety, environment, economic, social, etc.) of the Public as a group (group in this context may be a specific number of individuals up to and including all Ontarians).  The Public Interest is a “net-benefits” test/concept more-so than it is a “benefits redistribution” concept, in that so long as the Public enjoys overall net-benefits (or is expected to) some specific sub-groups or persons may gain comparatively more or less of the net- benefits created. The Public Interest is served by creating (or attempting to) net-benefits (in the face of many alternate and priority demands) and the Public Interest is not served by creating “net-costs” or by ignoring situations where Public Interest “tests” should occur.  There is also no notion that the types of “well-being” categories must have equivalent counterbalances.  For example, a statistically small safety risk for relatively few citizens facing potentially grave consequences may supersede any potential negative economic consequences (reflecting general societal values). 

We also suggest that the concept of Private Interests needs proper consideration in the same discussion of Public Interests, as the two are inexorably intertwined.  Private Interests, which we summarily define as the interests (or rights) of specific individuals and/or non-government organizations (e.g. for-profit businesses) to behave in ways that result in their accumulation of “net-benefits”, are very important and relevant to this discussion4.  There should likely be no general Public Interest mandate that supersedes Private Interests without due process, proper discussion, etc., and these matters be resolved on a case by case basis.5  Members of the CoT, participants in the various trades sectors, etc. all have varied and legitimate Private Interests that should not without proper cause be subordinated to Public Interests.

We add some further qualification regarding Public Interest as follows:

  • There is no necessary risk-free requirement to any decision, as this is not possible but net-benefits tests should evaluate risk and determine what is acceptable risk (accounts for potential for externalities, unknowns, etc.).
  • The net-benefits test explicitly accepts opposing Public Interests (for example, economic benefits (growth) may come at some environmental cost and/or vice-versa).

A couple of examples will help clarify this position:

  • The creation of the CoT itself was beneficial to the Public Interest for many reasons, including the simple fact that only consumers of trades services should pay for the administration of those services, as the CoT could be well constructed to be efficient and meet Public Interest priorities.
  • We believe the Fire Professionals who supported making the Sprinkler Installer trade compulsory were acting on behalf of the Public Interest.  The minority position against the trade becoming compulsory is a microcosm of the struggle between Public vs. Private Interests, etc.

We define the Public Interest as any action (or planned action, etc.) that does, will or may impact on the well-being (whether general or specific which includes concepts of health, safety, environment, economic, etc.) of the Public as a whole group.  As this is a CoT discussion the Public Interest is only a concern related to the trades, the work of the trades and the mandate of the CoT.

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

The CoT should serve in priority of importance the Public Interest and CoT members, and then in lesser priority non-member trades participants and stakeholders.  The Public Interest test serves the CoT well, and for instance, in Compulsory Certification reviews, if it can be proven that making a trade Compulsory could reasonably be expected to harm the Public Interest than the trade should likely only be made Compulsory if significant countervailing arguments can be made (which we consider to be highly unlikely).

While CoT members are a priority the CoT should not explicitly engage to harm or interfere with non-member trades’ participants and stakeholders.  Nor should the CoT attempt to extend its mandate into non-member business as this would very difficult or impossible to achieve, as they lack the legal authority over these groups.  For instance, journeypersons in voluntary trades who are not members could not reasonably be the target of any CoT action as they are beyond the authority of the CoT.

We don’t believe the CoT has defined its commitment to its members as well as it should.  It appears to us that the CoT has members only because these members have no choice but to be members and that its commitment to its members is entrapped in the OCTAA.  In our opinion, if the CoT had a full commitment to its members (beyond the OCTAA), it would become both a more attractive organization to join and would become a better functioning organization. The CoT would do well by creating a members statement of rights or a CoT commitment to its members.
 
For instance, we believe that the CoT serves its apprentice members at an unacceptably low level that needs substantial improvement.  We believe the CoT has the obligation to amongst various items advocate to make their apprenticeship as smooth and seamless as possible and reduce structural administrative errors.  Based on discussions with our apprentices, they express real dissatisfaction with the current structure. We touch on three or many items below:

Apprentices legally mandated to be members of the CoT but journeypersons are not:
Apprentices have appropriate dislike of this practice for many reasons, but we will sum it up as follows (as they have stated to us) they find it grossly unfair that they must be members and pay a fee (that if not paid results in their loss of their apprenticeship) when they work with journeypersons (who are their mentors) who are not members and will not become members until mandated to do so.  We support and agree with the apprentices on this position completely.

Additionally neither employers nor sponsors are required to be members of the CoT.  Our glazier GTA LAC recently became a member of the CoT, in part to support the position of our apprentices.

We recommend that all journeypersons, employers and sponsors be required to become members of the CoT (as we understand was present in, and the intent of, the OCTAA).

Consolidate all apprenticeship authority and responsibility with the CoT:
We possess a strong understanding of apprentices and apprenticeship, and a deep knowledge of the apprenticeship system, its administrative processes, etc. As currently structured and operated, this system, where both MTCU and CoT have specific and overlapping authority over apprentices, has created needlessly confusing, ineffective and problematic oversight of apprentices and apprenticeship.   Amongst various failures, the current in-place process for potential apprentices to become apprentices is unacceptable.  They should not have to interface with both MTCU and the CoT (as they currently do) to become apprentices.  This process is cumbersome, fraught with error, takes too long and is not liked by apprentices. 
The CoT should advocate for its apprentice members to consolidate all apprenticeship oversight with the CoT.

We believe MTCU’s key and useful role is to provide appropriate levels of stable funding to enable a vibrant and growing apprenticeship system. Apprentices should only have to interface with CoT as a one-stop service. 

We recommend that MTCU be eliminated from the apprentice system (likely remaining only in a funding role) and that all current apprentice facing MTCU administration and resources be moved over to the CoT.

Apprentice Council in the CoT:
We have found during our involvement with the CoT, that apprentices and apprentice issues are an afterthought, not a priority, and consequently they are not as well served as they have right to be. As a group they comprise about 25% of all CoT members.  As evidence of this a review of the CoT’s BoG minutes indicate no substantive apprentice issues being discussed6, and we suspect apprentices are very underrepresented in the formal advisory and decision-making structures of the CoT (Trade Boards or Divisional Boards, etc.).  We suspect this, amongst various reasons, is a general lack of proper awareness or care of apprentice issues.  Irrespective of the reasons we find this neglect unacceptable, untenable and in need of structural long-term remedies.

We recommend the CoT establish and properly resource an Apprentice Council (with real authority and responsibility).  Amongst various design elements representative(s) of this Apprentice Council should hold a seat with the BoG and sit on a Members Council, etc.

Members Council:
A review of our submission to Kevin Whittaker would indicate our view of CoT governance is quite different compared to what is currently in place.  We view then, as now, our recommended structure as superior for many reasons.  One such reason is our recommendation of a formal role of CoT members in the governance structure of the CoT (separate from any government appointments).

We don’t believe the CoT can serve its members as well as they should be served without providing them a structured and formal influence into the organization that they are members of (and provide the funding for its, the CoT’s, very existence).  It is an unacceptable principle to us for journeypersons and apprentices to be legally forced to be members of the CoT to work in your chosen trade, yet have no formal influence.  As CoT membership is not required to sit on Trade Boards, Divisional Boards, etc. it is a critical imperative to build structures that exclusively engage members.   It is a deficient organizational strategy not to desire and formally set up the processes to acquire the insights, knowledge, and expertise of the CoT members7.

We recommend the CoT establish and properly resource a Members Council (with real authority and responsibility).  Amongst various expectations representative(s) of this Council should hold a seat with the BoG and sit on a Members Council, etc.

Member Advocacy:
CoT members should rightfully expect that the CoT advocate for the advancement of its members to the provincial and federal governments and elsewhere.  For instance, we fundamentally believe that the CoT should advocate the provincial government to enshrine employment of apprentices on all provincially funded construction projects. Increasing employment opportunities in this way would, in our opinion, create a groundswell of new apprentices entering the system.

We recommend that the CoT develop and publish its member advocacy strategy so that CoT members can gauge their advocacy efforts.

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

As with some of our previous comments we are unsure this is the proper forum to have what can be a somewhat unproductive discussion.  Again our preference would have been that the CoT provide its thoughts in this area and ask for comments. Our primary concern is that with every CoT issue or action there are likely varied and opposing Public Interests.  These issues will be of varying levels of importance requiring differing processes to assess the varied interests and make a correct decision.  Strategically important issues should enjoy the most involved processes and narrower issues should enjoy a less involved process.  The variance in approach reflect two conjoined objectives, the desire to make the right decision and gaining associated benefits vs. the risk making the wrong decision and suffering associated costs.

Below we summarize two trades’ issues with varied Public Interests with significant differences in importance:
The creation of the CoT is an example of a strategically important Public Interest issue impacting the long term well-being of Ontario, many of its citizens and businesses and all trades participants.  There were many expressed differences whether, from a Public Interest viewpoint, the creation of the CoT was a good or bad action.  Of importance to this discussion is that the issue of the potential creation of the CoT caused the Kevin Whittaker review to be undertaken and OCTAA to later be enacted.  The resolution of this issue which started in 2008 took until 2013 when the CoT began operations.  This is an example of a Public Interest issue of significant importance.

The Sprinkler Installer trade becoming compulsory, while important was more narrowly and overall less important than the creation of the CoT.  Consequently and appropriately a more streamlined, yet fully effective process was created and implemented.

In both these instances the common thread was a commitment to a public, open process that enabled interested parties to participate and provide their input.  We stress this again both processes were open and parties chose to participate or not and chose how to participate.  Those who chose not to participate had no influence on the outcome, as it should have been8.

We have faith that the CoT can develop a strategy to effectively manage this issue.  We expect that the Public Interest issues will evolve over time but not so dramatically as to  require a constant redesign of any develop process.

We recommend that the CoT develop an effective and efficient framework to:

  • Develop a process to identify Public Interest issues
  • Develop a framework to classify the importance of the issues and implement a 100% open process to enable a proper assessment of the issues to come to a proper conclusion
  • Develop a framework to implement the conclusions of the process9.

While we will not suggest a prescription to be followed, the key principle we suggest that the CoT must commit 100% to be faithful to, is that these discussions are fully open and have no element of “behind-closed-doors” influence being included.

4) Is the College currently protecting the public interest?

We believe the CoT is currently protecting the Public Interest (however that may eventually be defined).  What we can’t state conclusively is whether the CoT is optimally effective in protecting the Public Interest.  We expect that with the passing of time, as the CoT grows and becomes more capable, that it will become a better protector of the Public Interest.  Public Interest protection has a number of aspects to it; some CoT actions will be proactive and some will be reactive. 

Optimally fully effective protection would result in harm to the Public Interest being as minimal as it could possibly be.  A long term strategic protection objective may be elimination in illegal trades work being conducted. Achieving this objective would likely entail a series of proactive actions (like a public relations campaign to consumers to ensure for instance they only hire licensed electricians for example) and a series of reactive actions (like increasing on-site enforcement and publicizing outcomes of their actions).

As it relates to Public Interest Protection we separate the operational and organizational issues from the governance and external interference issues.  We also do not address the Public Interest aspects of Panel Reviews as we comment on this elsewhere and generally believe the criteria provide good coverage of Public Interest.

With regards to operational and organizational:
Critical to the CoT serving and protecting the Public Interest is the design, successful implementation, and continuous improvement of strategies of public engagement, transparency, inclusiveness and openness, etc. The CoT should ultimately expect to achieve a trades environment where harming the Public Interest is avoided.  The primary objective should be eliminating the “illegal” trades economy that exists today.  This “illegal” economy includes the illegal “cash” business, the illegal non-compulsory tradespeople doing compulsory trades work, purposeful and fraudulent misrepresentation, etc. To date we believe the CoT has done a credible job in this regard. For instance, enabling public complaints against tradespersons work is a means of protecting the Public Interest.  We do suggest more can be done, particularly in building public awareness.

As we have identified elsewhere we believe the Enforcement capability of the CoT does a very credible job protecting the Public Interest.  We believe the capability is resource constrained compared to the potential protection it could and should provide. Unfortunately, and for some unknown reason (that we disagree with) is that no revenue generated from Enforcement accrues back to the CoT and consequently Enforcement is a pure cost to members.  We would like to see a better financial arrangement be made in this regard (perhaps a revenue share based on some defined parameters).

We also identify the public registry, complaints processes as very good ways to protect the Public Interest.  However, we don’t believe it is as well utilized as it likely could be.

We believe the CoT needs to increase its public engagement efforts, but we also recognize such engagement (e.g. via traditional marketing campaigns or newer media efforts (for instance the CoT could sponsor and embed/link itself in various home renovation shows)) is expensive.  This type of engagement would increase Public Awareness of the CoT, protection, etc.

Our recommendation in this regard is for the CoT to continue to expand its protection activities into building public awareness to prevent harm to the public.  We also recommend increased funding to increase the Enforcement capability of the CoT.

With regards to CoT governance and leadership:
We have specific concerns regarding the strategic capacity of the CoT’s BoG’s that we believe has diminished the capability of the CoT in many ways, including protecting the Public Interest.   There were a number of the early strategic actions made by the BoG that suggest to us their failure to properly implement strategies to protect the Public Interest, perhaps due to a misunderstanding of their responsibilities or other disconnects. 

In our submission to Kevin Whittaker we proposed a specific governance model that reflected the need for a strong Public Interest mandate and the capacity to well defend the CoT against the attacks from SIG’s we expected the CoT to constantly suffer.  The actual governance model adopted was substantially different than what we had proposed and we believe is deficient in these two areas.  We particularly believe that more “independent” and highly skilled governors (those representing the Public Interest only) could be selected and would amongst various benefits increase the competence of the BoG in general.

Below we identify a couple of specific examples:
The most problematic of these actions was the decision to enable journeypersons in voluntary trades and employers of journeypersons and apprentices to not be members of the CoT.  This has greatly diminished the capacity of the CoT to act in the Public Interest in voluntary trades as: a) very few journeypersons in the voluntary trades are CoT members (and even fewer employers in either compulsory or voluntary trades) and significant CoT Public Interest authority is directed only at CoT members b) apprentices will be put at risk of CoT action that we believe is very inappropriate as they are learning the trade.  We also believe the decision by itself (irrespective of its consequences) was against the Public Interest as these actions were counter to the OCTAA, occurred without any debate with members or the Public, and as it occurred at the very start of the CoT there was no “history” to be able to estimate impacts and as we understand this occurred against the recommendation of the CoT management.

We also point to the 2012-2015 Strategic Plan of the CoT, that, in our opinion, fails very badly at recognizing its Public Interest responsibilities and hence we believe that failure to fully execute strategies to protect the Public Interest.  We find that failure on the Public Interest to be glaring and cause for real concern.

We recommend that our earlier proposed governance model be adopted or a variation of it be adopted.  We also recommend that the CoT develop a formal relationship with the Institute of Corporate Directors (for advisement, training, etc.) to ensure the BoG of the CoT achieve the highest level of competence and performance possible and we recommend Governors be selected who possess ICD credentials.  Lastly, we recommend the CoT roll-back the exemption to journeypersons in the voluntary trades.

With regards to internal CoT understanding and belief in the Public Interest:
The Sprinkler Installer compulsory certification is an instructive example of the unconstrained opinions that CoT leadership may have regarding the Public Interest.  In this case we consider the adjudicator group to be CoT leadership as they make significant decisions.

We believe the majority position had the correct perspective, knowledge and skill and based their decision on their correct “interpretation” of the Public Interest.  We agreed with both their decision and their “interpretation” of the Public Interest.

What is of more interest in this discussion is that the minority position seemed to us to discount a clear Public Interest priority to be less important than a Private Interest preference.  This indicates to us a) the likely failure of the CoT to adequately define Public Interest b) ensure leadership group (and likely all the CoT) to properly understand the Public Interest mandate of the CoT c) ensure this group fully accepts and aligns its thinking with the Public Interest mandate and d) ensure only persons aligning with this belief be part of the CoT.

We recommend that all CoT leadership including all adjudicators be trained in, become knowledgeable of and accept faithfully the Public Interest mandate of the CoT.

With regards to external interference:
As we understand CoT action can be directed by the CoT BoG and internal management and via political and bureaucratic interference.  As the Public has learned elsewhere political and bureaucratic interference often have purposes and agendas that may not serve protecting the Public Interest well or at all.  Our reference to interference is not a commentary on whether the interference’s outcome is good or bad, but primarily as it occurs in ways and means that haven’t been fully explained or properly vetted in an open process (which we consider a cornerstone principle/value of the CoT).  As there is no transparency it is impossible to determine what the interference is, what the objectives of the interference are, who is being best served by the interference, who influenced the interference, etc.  Consequently we conclude the Public Interest is not served by this interference.

We recommend the elimination of any and all political and bureaucratic interference and barring that any and all such interference is fully transparent and open and subject to proper public discussion and vetting, as BoG decisions are.

5) How should the College advance the public interest?

We believe the CoT was created to protect and advance the Public Interest, and will broadly advance the Public Interest by meeting its legislative mandate, achieving proper strategic goals, and continuously advancing the Trades agenda in Ontario. 

The CoT and its leadership must be unabashedly positive on the existence, purpose and role of the CoT, additional to be unabashedly positive on apprenticeship and the trades.  The CoT and its leadership must also be unabashedly negative towards those who threaten the existence, purpose and role of the CoT.  Leadership should be measured against these two critical aspects, as without this the advancement of the Public Interest becomes more difficult than it should be.

Faithfulness to OCTAA and legislative mandate:
We believe the OCTAA was a full and proper long-term expression of what the CoT was to be, how it should protect and advance the Public Interest, and how it should act in various key areas of its business.  We supported and continue to support the OCTAA.

We were fully engaged and devoted significant resources to the development of the OCTAA and gained a full appreciation of the OCTAA during its development.  The OCTAA was the outcome of very significant public input and discussion and the OCTAA is a complete piece of legislation.  We don’t believe to date the CoT has fully met its legislative mandate and it must take action to do this immediately.   It was unacceptable to us that shortly upon its start the CoT began to move away from the OCTAA.  We will highlight two significant failures in this regard and then more generally challenge the CoT to a) right these wrongs and then b) be faithful to the OCTAA.

  • The waiver enabling journeypersons in voluntary trades to not be members of the CoT, was counter to the OCTAA, not in the Public Interest (for many reasons, some of which we have presented earlier) and should be rolled back.10
  • The failure of the CoT to require apprentice employers/sponsors to become members.

In both these instances, we suggest that the BoG not only didn’t advance the Public Interest, but has lessened the Public Interest. 

We recommend that the BoG measure every one of its decisions against its mandate as expressed in the OCTAA and take no action counter to this.  This commitment will help ensure the CoT is always advancing the Public Interest.

Leadership and Governance:
The impact of the CoT’s leadership and governance is significant and may be the most important factor to ensuring the CoT achieves and advances its Public Interest mandate.  We believe much improvement needs to occur in this area.  We had expected many aspects of the CoT’s operations and organization would mature and improve as time goes on, and that early on hiccups would occur, and this is what we believe has happened.  We also expected the CoT’s leadership and governance would be have been very effective from its inception (given that from 2009 to 2013 provided ample time to get this right) and we conclude it wasn’t and isn’t and it prevents the CoT from advancing the Public Interest as best it can. 

We will provide a couple of examples:

  • If as Tony Dean suggests that the Public Interest mandate of the CoT is central to its existence, then the 2012-2015 CoT Strategic Plan is woefully inadequate to advancing the Public Interest.  The more recent 2020 Strategic Plan presents “Protect the Public Interest” as its #1 Strategic Goal, which is more in keeping with our expectation.  We question why this wasn’t a key aspect of the 2012-2015 Strategic Plan and what harm may have occurred to the Public Interest advancement during the 2012-2015 period.  This to us is a failure of leadership and governance and in part due to the structure of leadership and governance of the CoT.
  • The leadership of the CoT must as a matter of Standard Operating Procedure in all their public acts express 100% faith and belief in the value and purpose of the CoT and amongst other aspects the CoT’s role in protecting and furthering the Public Interest.  The CoT leadership while often promoting apprenticeship and the trades, etc. is to us woefully and inadequately silent on the value of the CoT itself.  The CEO must be the thought leader on advancing the CoT and advancing the Public Interest role the CoT can play.  The CEO must also be the primary defender of the CoT (and do so publicly) against its opponents.  We will state this, in our opinion the CoT’s CEO serves the CoT, the CoT Members, and the Public Interest, the CEO in no way, shape or form serves non-Members or SIG’s who try to diminish the CoT.

We are unsure as to the specific reasons for these problems with the leadership and governance of the CoT but recommend a) the BoG partner with the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD) (or a similarly leading governance institution) for training and consultative leadership and b) review the role, description, performance measurement, etc. of the CoT’s CEO position to ensure it is properly focused on advancing the CoT and its Public Interest role in Ontario.

Trades research:
One of our expectations of the CoT is that it will become the leader in Canada in driving valuable and useful trades research.  There is, in our opinion, a significant need for more facts and a better understanding of how the trades can/do create/diminish wealth in Ontario (a Public Interest issues).  The CoT’s research should primarily be broad based and the areas of focus are significant.  We expect the CoT should partner broadly with organizations like the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, Stats Canada, Red Seal, HRDC, OCS, etc.  This research will advance the Public Interest as more fact based decisions can then be made.

We believe trades research to-date and recently has had a beneficial impact on advancing the Public Interest aspect of the trades.  For instance, the recently implemented Government of Canada Apprentice Loan program was partially a consequence of various research efforts into apprenticeship completion rates.

We believe significant benefits would be realized from CoT research.  For instance, we believe that apprentices generally make significantly higher income that other young persons not employed in the trades.  We would like to see a properly controlled and honest investigation regarding the comparative income earnings position of apprentices vs. non-apprentices.  Such research would be very valuable to the Public Interest as, amongst many uses, it would help parents and young people make more informed career choices.   We also believe it would convince more companies to start apprenticeship programs.11

We recommend the CoT design and implement a capability to undertake ongoing trades research.

All Enforcement Outcomes Be Made Public
The CoT should commit to making all outcomes of all their enforcement actions, where tickets are handed out, public.  We believe the CoT Enforcement actions are very effective and very successful, yet there is selective and limited information made public.

We struggle with making this recommendation, however we have a significant concern that publication of outcomes may be the subject of “back-room” or other dealings that don’t advance the public interest.

We are particularly concerned where high-profile infractions may have occurred against SIG’s, who have the capability to engage in public relations and other campaigns against the CoT. If these situations occur the CoT has in our opinion to make public these decisions to salvage back their reputation.

Other ways to advance the Public Interest:
There are a myriad of ways that the CoT could advance the Public Interest, and leave it to the CoT to develop appropriate strategies.

As a suggestion of the myriad of ways to advance the Public Interest we identify the following:
To the best of our understanding, the CoT is the largest and most pioneering organization of its kind in Canada and North America.  As such, it should be at the forefront in uses of technology to reach and engage the Public.  Increasingly young (primarily) and older persons are mobile and use cell phones as their primary means of communication.  We suggest the CoT make a priority to become “mobile”1 and develop an “app” enabling amongst various items the capacity to search the registry to find certified tradespeople, etc.

3.0 Issues Related to Scopes of Practice

Scope of Practice’s (SoP’s), as they formally describe and limit the work of any trade, are one of the most foundational, central and critical aspects of the trades in Ontario and across Canada.  We are fundamentally against any hold up of any CoT business related to anything regarding SoP’s.  The CoT earlier attempted to initiate a broad SoP review and suspend significant CoT work whilst this was completed (for instance, put a hold on Trades Classifications reviews).  We, and others, strenuously objected then and eventually the CoT agreed with our (and others) objections and suspended the planned review.  Our position has not changed in the interim.

Our glazier SoP is effective as it currently written.  The last time we reviewed and adjusted our SoP (and various ancillary aspects of the trade (training standard, curriculum standard, etc.)) we designed and implemented a very effective process that was well regarded by all stakeholders including MTCU.  Having stated this we, as a trade, constantly review our SoP to ensure it is effective.  We also know that other SoP’s, range from very good to needing some improvement to needing significant overhaul. 

The CoT inherited this situation from MTCU, and it seems to us that many trades approached SoP’s with honesty while other trades likely approached this issue with the intent of using MTCU to enable as much “trade creep” as they could.  We, who have been diligent, suggest the CoT implement a strategy to fix the deficient trades and leave the good trades alone.

Generally we believe, based on our understanding of SoP’s from the many trades we have reviewed, from their use in the marketplace and industry sectors, from our interaction with many other trades, etc. that the SoP’s are structurally sound, particularly as it relates to the “core” aspects of most of the trades.  There are in our opinion many opportunities to improve the SoP’s (as we describe below) for many specific trades and the trades in general but see no net benefit to trades workers and stakeholders, etc. from having the CoT “freeze” SoP’s (with all associated aspects for example trades classification reviews) or any such drastic measure to design and implement a new long term SoP plan.

There should be no mandatory constraints placed on the trades to suspend CoT work until all SoP’s have been reviewed and/or changed.  Doing this, in our opinion, will do substantial harm to many CoT stakeholders and the Public.

6) What impact do SoP’s 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?

Glazing is a voluntary trade in the construction industry, with certain activities also being included in the transportation industry (auto glass repair, etc.).  OGATC members work in the unionized segment of the construction industry and primarily in the ICI sector.  Consequently due both to the trade’s SoP and collective agreements both employers and employees are generally constrained to the work activities indentified in the SoP.  We are satisfied with the current glazier SoP but always look forward to doing formal reviews of our SoP.

There are issues related to emerging and new uses of glass in new areas (for instance, solar panels and claims by various trades to do this work), but to date these issues are considered workable.

Our trade’s SoP as it relates to work in the ICI sector is more important to us than low-rise residential or transportation glazing work, as we generally do significantly more work in the ICI sector.  We offer no comment on the perspective of stakeholders in the low-rise residential or transportation sectors.

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

There are multiple potential concepts related to the term “core and peripheral elements”. We don’t subscribe fully to the concept put forward by the Armstrong report 1as, while it expresses certain concepts that are useful to the discussion of core vs. peripheral, it does not fully capture all the issues of relevance.  For instance, additional issues may include:

  • The work activities that comprise the most ongoing work of the trade (for instance measured in person hours)
  • “Root” or “foundational” activities vs. “branch” or “derived” activities
  • Importance to the industry
  • Activity clusters vs. standalone activities
  • Areas of most training emphasis
  • Or with the CoT and the importance of Public Interest, which activities pose the most risk to the Public Interest.

We also ask a fundamental question, can any element in a compulsory trade be considered peripheral?  We suspect not, as well various work is likely more or less complex, etc., all work within compulsory trades, as currently written in SoP’s, is restricted and hence not likely peripheral.

For instance, our glazing trade has:
If we use activity clusters by sector we would conclude that ICI glazing work is one set of activity clusters and transportation glazing work is another set of activity clusters.  Or we may indicate that installing curtain wall is critically important to our industry whereas stained glass repair is of marginal importance.

During our last SoP review and leading to an updated Apprentice Training Standard, Curriculum Standard, etc. our industry engaged in well structured process to help our industry determine important (core) and less important (peripheral) elements of the trade.  We asked the industry participants to rank order glazier activities by importance related to attributes like: H&S risks, industry focus, complexity of the task, mechanization issues associated with the task, skill level required, etc.

This structured approach enabled us to then design and implement a revised apprentice training program that helped best ensure apprentices were learning the essential skills of the trade.  We believe the type of framework and process we engaged in would be useful to the CoT in determining core and peripheral elements by trade.

We recommend the CoT design a structured framework that would work by each of the CoT’s Divisions and then working with the various Trade Boards review and categorize the trade’s activities.

8) What should be the key elements of an SoP?  In particular, should the SoP for a trade list all tasks, activities, or functions in which an apprentices 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?

8.1) Effective vs. Ineffective SoP’s

We believe the key purpose of the SoP is to describe the work activities of a trade’s journeypersons sufficiently well so that various stakeholders can effectively use the SoP for varied purposes without risk of significant misinterpretation, error, etc.  The described work activities doesn’t need to be an exhaustive laundry list of all work broken down into its individual activities (as many activities have specific dependencies on other activities) but must describe end activities that are valued.  For instance, in the glazing trade the activity “installing curtain wall” entails the logical set of all activities associated with curtain wall installation.  Additional purposes of SoP’s include but are not limited to: a) setting training standards b) enforcement action, c) interacting with the Red Seal system, etc.  and the SoP’s need to be effective for these purposes also.

We don’t believe an SoP should be an “all or multi-purpose” vehicle as posited by Tony Dean (for instance list all “tasks...an apprentice should be trained.”).  Such an SoP we believe would prove to be unwieldy and ineffective and there are likely better means to achieve those potential objectives (for instance in our trade the glazier apprentice training standard).

In our opinion the current SoP’s of the trades run the spectrum from very well to very poorly crafted.  We suggest the following criteria for establishing well crafted SoP’s:

  • It is easily understood, logically consistent, uses common language (for all trades), etc. for trades knowledgeable persons
  • It is concise and to the point in stating the work of the journeypersons
  • It avoids attempts to be used for “trade creep” for example: it doesn’t lay claim to “common work” or use broad or variably definable terms
    • Trades can typically be defined by the materials they work with (our trade is “architectural glass and metal” or specific goods/products/services (e.g. “alignment and brakes”); where SoP’s don’t use specifics it should be suspected they are engaging in “trade creep”
  • It is enforceable and enables effective enforcement
  • It supports development of interlinked functions and uses (like Apprentice Training Standard, etc.)
  • Overlaps between trades are consistent in their intent, presentation, etc.
  • They can be used by the OLRB and similar legal/quasi-legal purposes
  • It is consistent with SoP regime of the Red Seal system2.

A key issue associated with SoP’s is the relationship between the written scope (as per the regulations) and the implied and interpreted scope that is used to establish training standards, curriculum standards, exams, the actual work being done on a jobsite or wherever by the tradesperson, and ultimately enforcement (for compulsory trades).  We believe the above framework must also be consistently applied to these implied and interpreted scope of practice.

We believe our glazier SoP meets all the discussion points above and could serve as an example.  Of interest the Red Seal National Occupational Analysis (NOA) is slightly more descriptive but its additional descriptions centre on issues like various work environments, essential skills, etc. that may not add much value beyond the basic SoP for the purpose of the SoP as we understand it to be.

We recommend that the CoT develop a SoP review framework that enables the structuring of SoP’s to meet specific standards.

8.2) Common Language

A significant task to creating and using effective SoP’s is ensuring common and consistent language between the trades, so that both the CoT and various stakeholders have a common understanding.  This is a difficult but very important issue to resolve. An example is the use of the word “welding”.  Welding as identified in the welding trade SoP is a comprehensive set of specific welding techniques and activities, etc. supported by significant training.  Yet in other trades, the term welding is also used and we believe the use of this word is meant as some subset or specific welding, but is not so specified or qualified.  We expect that within the trades more detailed training standard, etc. that a better description may occur, but a better description is required in the SoP itself.

The importance of getting language correct cannot be understated, as language forms the basis for many determinations, decisions and actions of the CoT and others.  For example, Tony Dean asked for perspectives on the “Third Legal Interpretation”, we suggest the current misused language throughout the SoP’s create specific and real, although not insurmountable, problems with any proper trade by trade determination of the impact of the “Third Legal Interpretation”.

We lay fault with this issue again with MTCU and not the CoT, as these SoP’s were the work of MTCU.  However, it is important that the CoT develop an internal competence related to this and we suggest the CoT start by focussing on the most commonly used words or terms that are used across the most trades.  For instance, in many construction sector SoP’s the term “laying out” (or its equivalent is used).  The CoT should collect all these common terms and with various Trade Boards come to consensus meaning.

As it relates to this issue, proactively our trade has requested and received from the CoT formal definitions of various terms of importance to our trade.  We have found this useful as it both confirmed and better framed our understanding of the benefits of common language.

We recommend the CoT design and implement a Common Language strategy as we have described. 

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

Additional to developing an SoP Key Elements plan as described above we suggest the following in regards to reviewing and/or changing SoP’s.

3.4.1   150+ trades and Prioritization

There are over one-hundred and fifty trades in Ontario.  If there was a broad based decision to hold up further progression on Trades Classification reviews, establishing new trades, adjusting current SoP’s, etc. until the SoP of all trades were reviewed and reconfigured  this could easily take five+ years to complete and have significant negative impact in the interim.  We consider this unacceptable as potential benefits will likely be outweighed by the costs of delay, particularly for the majority of trades that likely have very acceptable SoP’s.

Additionally these trades all have individual circumstances that may or may not indicate an urgency to review the SoP. Many trades are very small, some trades are likely prepared to make an application to change their trade status, and some trades are likely significantly overlapping other trades.

The CoT members will be best served by reviewing and adjusting the SoP’s of trade on a priority basis which may be:

  • Compulsory trades, with a top priority being trades with SoP’s that may be deemed problematic, have difficult enforcement environments, etc.
  • Voluntary trades, that have indicated a desire to become compulsory (it may be a minimal as requiring the Trade Board and Divisional Board attest that they have reviewed the SoP (including overlaps with other trades) and are satisfied that the SoP will not be a hindrance to that trade becoming compulsory and that attestation should be based on some formal review framework that the CoT has designed and implemented)
  • Trades with SoP’s deemed problematic (either by the CoT, the trade or other trades).

We recommend that the CoT develop a trades review framework that can be used to prioritize reviewing, and if appropriate adjusting, SoP’s.

3.4.2   An Open SoP Review Process

A significant problem with the previous MTCU SoP review process is that the process was typically completely internal to the trade.  MTCU took it upon itself to be arbitrator of key potential issues like overlaps between trades, level of detail, language used, construction of the SoP, etc.  This, the lack of openness, was and is unacceptable and the CoT must commit to an open process that enables affected trades to provide input.

Our glazing trade is a perfect example, it was only after the CoT came into being and published all the SoP’s (and associated training standards, etc.) that we were proactively able to search, identify and begin to evaluate the many other trades that overlap with the work in our SoP.  We were very surprised at the outcome of this search as we knew of only a limited number of trades where there were overlaps.  We were also very disappointed that MTCU’s failure to keep us properly informed in this regard.

We recommend the CoT design and implement an open SoP review process that enables commentary for other trades and formally requires review by other trades with overlaps or where other potential issues may likely arise.

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

SoP’s are a critical foundational aspect of the trades and taken as a whole (all SoP’s for all trades) form the very basis of the trades system in Ontario and across Canada.  SoP’s are key to supporting most if not all the functions of the CoT.

SOP’s are foundational for the following reasons:

  • They are the proper and legal definition of the trade, with all the associated issues including all enforcement and many other CoT activities.
  • They describe the work of the trade for workers, etc. in the trade, for the Public, for governments, for other trades, for others involved in the trades (engineers, etc.).
  • They are used to frame the specific training programs (both On-the-Job and In-School) that apprentices must complete in order to become a journeyperson.
  • They are effective in enabling the trades to flourish and generate real economic and other benefits.

We recommend the CoT design and implement a plan to ensure the SoP’s of the various trades meet the standard of supporting CoT functions.  We recommend the CoT engage the Trade Boards of the various trades to execute the plan.

11) Should entire SoP for a compulsory trade be enforceable or be subject to enforcement?

Glazing is not a compulsory trade but we believe as it relates to compulsory trades in the construction sector we possess sufficient knowledge to provide reasonable commentary on this matter.

As we understand currently all of the activities in a compulsory trade are subject to enforcement as that is how it is described in the OCTAA.  The OCTAA excludes and/or restricts by entire trade.  On the whole we believe this approach is substantially more effective than the previous approach of MTCU that was devoid of any enforcement.  We don’t believe that on any “net-benefits” test it could be proved that enforcement based on an entire SoP for a compulsory trade is not positive. Unless some very compelling case could be otherwise be made, we favour leaving trades currently classed as compulsory within the OCTAA described enforcement process.

We do believe there is the potential, based almost entirely on the CoT having and maintaining, an effective enforcement capability to make some changes to the current system that may general incremental benefits.   We suggest if current voluntary trades desire to become compulsory flexibility be provided as we describe below.

11.1) Positive Impact of Enforcement

CoT enforcement of SoP’s is a critically important capability and service of the CoT.  In fact the failure of MTCU to enforce SoP’s has enabled many of the situations that have created problems for the CoT. To be effective the enforcement capability of the CoT needs amongst various items clear and enforceable SoP’s.  CoT enforcement impacts on individuals, corporations, unions, associations and the public, in competitive marketplaces.  As such, and particularly as it relates to corporations who face enforcement action, we expect their enforcement is unfortunately very contentious.

We believe the CoT is an independent arbitrator of SoP’s.  We believe the CoT has no inherent, implied or actual bias favouring one trade vs. another.  We believe they are competent and capable, and have proven effective in their enforcement.  However, the failure of MTCU to enforce and consequently the development of SoP’s without a partial view towards enforcement has likely created difficulty for enforcement.

We recommend a best approach to better equip the enforcement capability is to ensure the enforceability of SoP’s (and their associated and implied extensions (e.g. Training standard)) is built into any SoP review process for any compulsory trade (likely requiring the Enforcement group within the CoT having a formal review role).

11.2) New Concept for SoP’s and the Trades

Given the potential of the CoT and the known capabilities and competence of the enforcement efforts of the CoT, there is the potential for a new concept for trades SoP’s.  This new concept suggests that within their SoP’s of many trades there exist core and non-core, unique and shared, safety critical and less safety critical, etc. work activities and elements of the trades.

Whole trades is a concept steeped in the history, present in many trades today and a concept that has served stakeholders and the Public Interest well.  Whole trade is an excellent prescription to enable a determination of what the trade is and does, what training of apprentices is required, etc.  This concept however shouldn’t necessarily deem exclusivity to any trade for that trades work (this is particularly prevalent in voluntary trades). In fact most trades have overlaps with other trades and most trades have multiple overlaps with multiple trades, where the overlaps typically involve “non-core” aspects of the trade.  Extending and better formalizing the concept of overlaps enables the potential for a new trades SoP concept. 

Various aspects of a new concept for SoP’s could potentially include:

  • An activities based approach for compulsory certification which would enable the entire trade or only certain activities of a trade being made compulsory
    • Which should be matrixed against “environment (worker, etc.)”, which could then form a basis for effective certification; for instance in our glazier trade, and since 2007 (Tim Armstrong) we suggested low rise residential glazing is a separate “environment” from ICI and high rise residential, even though the glazier activities are the same across much of the SoP.
  • Equivalency of activities, certification, training, etc. enabling flexibility of movement, for instance, a certification in arc welding would be accepted across all trades, eliminating the need for a worker to retrain/certify if moving between trades.

Key to any move to a new more flexible concept for SoP’s is:

  • The capacity for the CoT to build consensus amongst stakeholders for the new concept
  • An effective and fully functioning enforcement capability; as we have seen under the MTCU administration without enforcement a vibrant and robust “illegal” economy will likely exist (which we conclude is detrimental to the Public Interest and all honest trades stakeholders)
  • The capacity for the CoT to effectively manage the implied incremental complexity that this new concept will cause, for instance, training standards will have to become both more descriptive and prescriptive if true equivalency is to be achieved, this creates additional issues for the CoT
  • That this new concept does not result in disaggregation of the trades, which will eventually diminish their utility.  For instance, our glazing trade SoP describes all the work of the trade independent of any specific work environment (e.g. high rise ICI or low-rise residential) and while it is envisionable that certain work in specific work environments be made compulsory while others are not, it is critical the glazing trade remain the entire glazing trade.

As moving to any new concept is fundamental and strategically important to the long-term health of the trades we recommend the CoT design and execute a strategy to engage stakeholders and develop an effective framework (if in fact stakeholders agree to a new concept).

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?

12.1)   Trades Work List of Risky Activities

We believe the CoT, the Public and CoT members could and likely would benefit from a list of compulsory activities that may pose a risk of harm.  We suspect that those activities are already present within the SoP’s of the compulsory trades and so the CoT already possesses this information.  We also believe within the current authority of the CoT they can act in ways to best manage, minimize or mitigate these risks.  For instance, there are restrictions against anyone other than a certified individual from doing the work of a compulsory trade.

We believe the notion that “risk” is not only the domain of compulsory trades, and it may be more useful but more difficult to achieve and more complex to identify such a list for voluntary trades. We suspect many activities within many voluntary trades do pose a risk of harm and we suspect these activities could be identified without significant difficulty.

The more difficult challenge is to construct and utilize an effective framework that could help generate real benefits through better management, minimization and/or mitigation of these risks, and this we suspect is very significant challenge, and one beyond the current short or medium term priority list of the CoT.  As difficult as constructing and utilizing such a framework any implementation could likely be so difficult and administratively burdensome as to consume most of any potential benefits.  For instance, if activity risk in a voluntary trade rose to certain level would the CoT then feel obligated to bring this activity into its enforcement processes and how exactly would this occur.

Risk has a significant array of variables additional to the work itself.  For instance, situational and environmental factors can have a very significant impact on risk.  For instance, in our glazier trade glass falling from the first floor of a commercial or residential building poses relatively little risk to workers or the Public.  However, as was experienced in Toronto in the recent past, once this work is conducted above three stories the risk of harm from falling glass rises substantially.

We expect the development of a framework to identify and classify risk is significant and we expect attempting to derive impacts and then strategies to manage these impacts will be even more significantly difficult.

We do believe that within the Trades Classification process there is opportunity to frame and have appropriate discussions of risk.  In fact the Public Interest thread throughout many of the criteria and the other criteria seem to us to be asking for discussions on risk.

Our glazier trade board has been exemplary in continuously moving the agenda of the CoT forward.  We could actually see a core role of the various trade boards in both developing a risk framework and then identifying which of their trades activities meet various risk attributes.

We recommend against any specific broad based initiative to develop a risk assessment and action plan for the work of the trades.  We do recommend the CoT to develop a usable framework and over time via various processes work to fully develop and implement an effective risk management, minimization and mitigation plan.

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

13.1) Trade Overlaps and Overlap Equivalency

As per current SoP’s, we believe it likely all trades overlap with some other trades.  Our trade overlaps, as per the as written SoP’s,  with at least nine trades on specific work and these overlaps occur in trades in the Construction, Motive Power and Industrial sectors.  We consider trade overlaps a common and normal aspect of the trades.  Overlaps may be both explicit (where two or more trades name a work activity exactly the same) or implied (for example, two or more trades refer to the same work activity in different ways).  Overlaps also occur due to imprecise language that doesn’t reflect the intent of the written scope or real world work (for instance, many trades have “welding” identified in their scope, we believe the intent is welding as it relates to the other work of the trade, but only refer to the work generically as “welding”).

We consider overlaps in SoP’s to be a potential problem as:

  • Two or more trades are involved, which entails to potential for disputes, disagreement, etc.
  • Overlaps are common in most trades, but as MTCU was the arbitrator of these overlaps many trades are likely unaware of overlaps
  • Overlaps are potentially “core” aspects of a trades scope but non-core to another trade, creating a potential imbalance and problems of “equivalency”
  • Overlaps likely have problems related to equivalency; for instance one trade may devote significant apprentice training to a cluster of activities whilst another trade may devote little training and consequently the question should be asked if there is equivalence
  • Overlaps in compulsory trades create many specific issues regarding legality, enforcement, etc.

The CoT needs to develop a capability to deal effectively with overlaps.  This capability should include various aspects including:

  • Define the meaning of the various terms/work that create the overlaps (which amongst various issues will have legal importance)
  • Create a process to resolve disputes between trades, which may include “rescoping” various aspects of trades where required
  • Interface with Red Seal organization to ensure definitions, overlaps, etc. can be accommodate within the Red Seal system

In apprenticeship training and as apprentices must be members of the CoT and consequently subject to various CoT “actions” it is important to ensure that overlap equivalency and overlap clarity is achieved.

We recommend that the CoT develop a review framework that effectively deals with the issue of overlaps in SoP’s.  Included in this framework is a defined dispute resolution mechanism when overlapping trades disagree on the overlap.

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

Overlaps do impact on daily work, but as the key overlaps are known and well entrenched in business they are accepted.  As we are a voluntary trade we are unsure how anything could change in this regard.

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

15.1) Framework to Best Manage Third Legal Interpretation

We have been involved with the glazier trade for a very long time and have taken on extended responsibilities over time.  Consequently we have had a long period of interaction with MTCU, and have experienced firsthand many of its “interesting” trades' administration and oversight practices.  We advocated strongly for the CoT as amongst many reasons we believed many MTCU practices defied general business sense or logic.

We have known of this “third legal interpretation” for a long period of time and even when explained to us by MTCU we could not understand or accept the logic behind it or in any way agree with it.  It appeared us then and now that this interpretation was the result and consequence of non-public dealing that was created to advantage certain SIG’s, or based on some narrow and flawed set of criteria and/or some narrow or flawed interpretation of work or the misuse of language in the SoP’s, etc..   We don’t suspect MTCU’s was ill intending or to create marketplace chaos, but we concluded long ago it was nonsensical.  We have no knowledge of whether this interpretation has ever been used.

As this was brought over to the CoT by the leadership and governance groups of the CoT we hold them accountable for its likely impact, which we consider to be negative and not in the Public Interest.  We would very much like to see the rationale behind this decision, and we suspect the rationale is very weak, and likely no stronger than when MTCU made it a practice.

In our opinion, this interpretation is fundamentally flawed and fails on just about every perspective and angle.  Above all else it fails the protection of the Public Interest test.  SoP’s describe the work of any trade if the work of any trade is deemed to be requiring certification then certification should be required as that is in the Public Interest, the broad exemption inherent in the interpretation is then consequently against the Public Interest.

However if the interpretation can’t be abolished as we believe it should, use of appropriate administrative interpretations could minimize or eliminate its potential impact.

We suggest the following:

  • First, define if the work is actually the same between the compulsory and voluntary trade(s) in question.  As we identify elsewhere many SoP’s are deficient in their use of language and imprecisely describe their work.  In many cases the SoP’s seem to be written with the specific intent of trade creep. 
  • Second, determine the other aspects of “work” that may properly enable a distinction between or a scoping of its limits.  Certain “work” may be the same except when various other variables are accounted for.  For instance, our trade has work overlaps with a precision fabricating trade and we suspect upon proper investigation we would uncover specific differences between the supposed common “work” that would lead to a conclusion that while the “work” has common language it is not the same “work” in practice
  • Third, evaluate on a “net-benefits” basis the cost/benefits of maintaining the exemption with a particular emphasis on Public Interest.

The process described above would likely lead to a definitive conclusion whether the “work” is the completely the same.  As an example of the problem and not to use current compulsory trades, welding is a trade (Industrial Sector) and yet the word/work “welding” shows up in multiple other trades. The welding trade is comprised of 5280 hours of on-the-job (OTJ) training and 720 hours of in-school training. We suspect the other trades using the term “welding” likely mean welding as it relates to specifically and only to the other activities/work of their trades.  An incorrect “third legal interpretation” could conclude that “welding is fully and completely all welding”, which we would state is factually incorrect.   Full and consequentially complete equivalency is the likely best and only test of any interpretation.

Following this type of process, which we consider somewhat unwieldy, we suspect that the work between a compulsory and voluntary trade is not likely fully equivalent and consequently this interpretation becomes likely unusable.

As we don’t believe this test meets the protection of the Public Interest mandate we recommend the CoT reverse its position on the third legal interpretation and barring that develop a specific process to limit its use to very specific situations.

3.1 Summary Recommendations regarding SoP’s

As we identify above the SoP issue facing the CoT is critical to the long-term health of the CoT, the trades and the Public Interest.  We don’t believe the issue should be resolved on a piece-meal basis as the issues are very interlinked.

Our summary recommendations related to SoP’s are:

  • Don’t place any general hold on moving forward awaiting a general review of SoP as individual trade SoP’s need to change and adapt as required by markets, etc.
  • Require the CoT to develop a complete structural framework for SoP’s that deals with issues like: common language and the construction of the SoP’s, plans to deal with overlaps between trades, etc.
  • Prioritize SoP Review potentially as follows:
    • Compulsory certified trades
    • Trades anticipating application for Compulsory Certification
    • Rank order of review based on a mapping of the stated scope vs. CoT framework; size of the trade, interlinkages with other trades, etc.
  • Develop and begin to implement a long-term strategy for SoP’s that reflects new concepts as we proposed.

4.0 Classification of the Trades

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

We are unsure as to the purpose of this question, as until the Fire Sprinkler Trade Classification review occurred all trades classification were under the oversight and authority of MTCU and the government of Ontario, and compulsory trades are compulsory because they were so deemed to be.  To the best of our knowledge unless so deemed by MTCU and the government of Ontario, all other trades were by “default” deemed to be voluntary.

We possess no specific knowledge as to how or why these decisions were made but we believe there was no CoT-like public and open evaluation and decision processes in place at the time.  We have no specific knowledge as to whether any or what criteria were used, as to whether or not any specific type or form of evidence was used, or who specifically were proponents or opponents. We are also unsure as to what historical records may be in existence and available that present decision making processes used.

We suspect then as now the issue of Public Interest protection (and advancement) was a core issue, and that decisions were made in the face of an uncertain future and based on a desire to reduce the “risk of harm” and otherwise protect the Public.  We suspect the dynamic of Public Interest vs. Private Interest was present then as now and we suspect many Private Interests expressed significant dissatisfaction over these decisions and likely predicted a negative outcome if those trades were made compulsory.  We believe that Public Interest “net-benefits” have been enjoyed due to these trades being compulsory and that no Private Interest “net-costs” have been realized.

We suggest that having evaluated the current compulsory trades in Ontario we conclude the decisions to make those trades compulsory was correct.  For example, we are not dissatisfied that the Construction Electrician or Automotive Technician trades are compulsory, believe the Public Interest has been well served by their classification and cannot envision them as voluntary trades where the Public Interest would be better served.  For instance, we believe having car brakes serviced by a licensed technician is inherently proper.  We also suspect that Private Interests as a whole have not be disserved, and we suspect that in dynamic competitive markets there will be Private Interests who gain and some Private Interests who lose.

We also see no destructive market dynamics at play, compensation of compulsory tradespeople are not exorbitant, as best we can tell, and we see no evidence of structural labour rigidity or shortages, or structural misservice of the Public Interest.  In fact, we view compulsory certification as primarily an issue of certification that leads to a better protected Public (due in part to a higher mandatory minimum entrance skill level) and generally expect, where there is no structural monopoly powers present over consumer choice, that Private Interests as a group are not likely advantaged or disadvantaged and their realized benefits are reasonable.

Our primary criticism of the system in place before the CoT was the failure of MTCU to enforce compulsory certification.  We suspect significant work has illegally occurred in these the compulsory trades as a consequence.

We believe in history, as today and into the future a core element of determining whether a trade should be compulsory or voluntary is the protection of the Public Interest mandate.  We recommend that mandate be well maintained and made better in this current CoT structure.

16.1) The CoT and Establishing New Trades

As we identified above, we possess no specific knowledge of how or why MTCU made certain trades compulsory.  As we identify elsewhere, we believe the Sprinkler Installer trade should have been designated compulsory from its beginning and so question if other trades are in a similar state.  We also question whether all the trades currently in Ontario actually fit a rigorous definition of what a trade is.  As the CoT is new we suggest below a possible framework for new trades within the CoT framework, which should dramatically improve on the previous MTCU framework.

We offer this commentary:

  • Trades are trades and occupations are occupations, and the two should not be confused or co-mingled.  We believe MTCU did previously confuse and co-mingle the two concepts, when it pleased them.  Formalized training and certification strategies can exist in many different ways and forms, not just via trades’ structures.  We recommend that the CoT develop appropriate processes to ensure they differentiate between trades and other forms of occupations so as to prevent the misuse of trades’ strategies.
  • A new trade should only be implemented if:
    • There actually exists a fidelity type relationship between an experienced, skilled worker (journeyperson for instance) and an inexperienced, less skilled worker (apprentice) that is centric to significant on-the-job learning, and where formalization of these relationships into a broader infrastructure (apprenticeship program) is the best strategy.
    • There is a definable set of market participants who:
      • commit, in aggregate, to generate real benefits to specifically identified groups
      • are of a sufficient size to matter, as there are administrative and other costs, to being a trade1
      • demonstrably commit to support the trade, with performance benchmarks, etc.
    • A long term need, purpose and set of Public Interest benefits can be identified and believed to be gained
  • A new trade should not be implemented if:
    •  a primary objective is to secure government funding to support various agendas of funding jobs programs, padding apprenticeship numbers, to enrich specific parties, etc.
    • the trade will only exist with government funding
    • becoming a trade is not the best strategy to achieving a broad public benefits objective
    • on-the-job training from a journeyperson to an apprentice is not a core aspect of the strategy to build skills, etc.
    • only one or very few employers/sponsors are interested in creating the trade and employing journeypersons and sponsoring apprentices.
  • In establishing a new trade various parameters should be adhered to including:
    • A new trade should not overlap in a significant way with current trades, and if required a current trade(s) should be adapted to reflect new realities
      • Significant attention should be given to “equivalency” where a new potential trade may overlap with an established trade.  Equivalency is the concept that a similarly described activity for two or more trades should be subject to equivalent training, etc.
    • New trades should have a “probationary” period after implementation upon which a review of the trade will be made and a determination of permanence will be made.
    • New trades should be evaluated upfront using the seven criteria in use as to whether the trade should be classified as voluntary or compulsory.
  • The CoT should:
    • Implement a formal “new trades” organizational capability that has the following design attributes:
      • The items identified above
      • Proper organizational accountability, responsibility, authority tasked to specific positions or groups, etc.
      • Normalized processes, practices, procedures, etc. properly administer new applicants through to decision and then for a specified period of specific support
    • Implement a “new trades” engagement process with existing CoT members/trades/public where they are minimally provided a defined and normalized process to comment

We recommend that the CoT design and implement a formalized capability and process to create new trades together with all associated aspects (determining if the trade should be compulsory or voluntary, establishing apprenticeship programs, etc.).

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?

We state WITH FULL CONFIDENCE that the current classification of trades as either compulsory or voluntary is aligned with the CoT’s duty to serve and protect the public interest.  We also state that the CoT has proven in its short existence more competent of that duty than MCTU did before it.
 
We also expect that the current trades classification structure will evolve and become better overtime.  We can’t predict with 100% confidence that this will occur due to the significant opposition the CoT faces, which we consider to be the primary risk and threat to the CoT and the value it provides the Public and its members.

We believe the OCTAA provides the CoT with the scope of action and authority to realize its duty to serve and protect the Public Interest.  Problematically, is that additional to the work site and other problems created when journeypersons in voluntary trades were granted the right not to be members, is a revenue shortfall that is likely very significant and which we expect restricts the CoT’s ability to fully serve and protect.

It appears to us that the primary strategy the CoT uses to proactively execute its duty is to enforce the various prohibitions identified in the OCTAA.  We believe much of the opposition to the CoT is based on the fact that prior to the CoT there was no effective enforcement and consequently the marketplaces of many of the compulsory trades likely became disorderly, where the regulatory prohibitions and restrictions didn’t prevent improper behaviour.

17.1) Enforcement and Public Protection

We believe that Enforcement of the trade regulations (including current classification systems) is a critically important (perhaps the most critical) service of the CoT and without it the CoT and the OCTAA would be rendered ineffectual.  We believe the authority as laid out in the OCTAA is clear and reasonable.  Enforcement serves a multitude of purposes but two of the greatest significance:

  • Serving the Public Interest (education, behaviour modification, investigation, protection)
  • Serving the trades (education, behaviour modification, investigation, protection)

We believe the Enforcement capability of the CoT is unbiased, fair and serves faithfully the regulations it is bound to enforce.  We believe the Enforcement capability of the CoT is effective and will become more effective as time passes.  We also believe Enforcement creates real benefits to the public and the trades.

We believe that current trades classified as compulsory have a common element of Public Interest protection associated with them.  For instance a significant number of trades in the Motive Power sector are classed as compulsory, and this seems very reasonable and necessary, given the risk of harm and the need to protect the public.  While there may be opportunities to better structure compulsory work designations, we have confidence in the CoT Enforcement capability to be faithful to the current classifications and SoP’s.

We recommend that the Enforcement strategy of the CoT be funded to enable a full and effective Enforcement capability.

17.2) Enforcement and the Illegal Economy

We suspect that while executing its duty for Public Protection, that CoT Enforcement action will likely uncover significant illegal (underground) economy activity.  This is a secondary outcome, but not a primary focus of the CoT, that an illegal economy is associated with persons illegally working in restricted trades where certification is required.  We are unsure what legal authority the CoT may have to formally pursue illegal economy discoveries it may make, but we expect it will network with other authorities as required.   Our concern is that these likely benefits may not be fully realized if the Enforcement capability is not properly funded.

We recommend that the Enforcement strategy of the CoT to integrate as necessary with other authorities and become able to fully identify and express its positive impact on reducing the illegal economy.

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?

We believe within likely all trades there are elements in the SoP that are inherently hazardous and may pose risk of harm to the public, tradespeople or other workers.  The problem to resolve is less in the identifying which elements are likely posing a risk and more in identifying the level, nature and types of risk and then in identifying how feasibly those risks could be better managed, minimized, mitigated, etc. without the cost of “risk management” exceeding the benefits of “risk management”.

Additionally, SoP’s may not offer the full and complete picture as it relates to hazards and risk of harm.  For instance, our trade’s SoP identifies many types of work, but doesn’t identify whether the work is conducted inside a building or structure or on the outside of a building or structure (for instance, working from a swing stage or other type of platform).  Consequently, work that poses inherent risk of harm to the Public Interest (e.g. falling glass that was incorrectly installed) can be overlaid with another layer of potential harm (e.g. glaziers installing glass from a swing stage).  In fact, Working at Heights has proven so potentially hazardous that specific and significant “risk management and mitigation” strategies have been implemented by the Ministry of Labour.

Evaluating and correctly implementing strategies to address this real issue for all the trades is a significant undertaking, likely exceeding the current capacity and capabilities of the CoT.  We recommend that the CoT develop an appropriate strategy to effectively deal with this issue and provide it to the CoT members, Trade Boards, etc. for commentary and only after this should the CoT act.  We are against any hold on CoT work, like Trades Classifications reviews, waiting for action in this matter.

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?

As we identified above, we view a compulsory classification of a trade as primarily an issue of certification (ensuring a minimum level of skill to entrants into the class of journeypersons),and so long as consumer choice is not otherwise restricted or monopolized it is not an issue of restricting labour supply or creating wages or profits that generate undeserved “rents” for Private Interests.  If the actual granting of certification (e.g. only twenty electrician apprentices can become journeypersons in any year no matter what exam score they receive) was arbitrarily restricted or movement of apprentices or journeypersons was restricted, which it is not, we would rethink our position.  Further, and point of fact, as we believe apprenticeship is more economically attractive to young people than many other pursuits, we expect a continuous abundance of labour supply, and as ratios enable an “earn while you learn” capacity likely create additional labour supply.  Nor do we dogmatically believe compulsory certification structurally or necessarily creates economic advantage for any stakeholder groups.  Competitive marketplaces reward according to performance not trade classification status.

Consequently, the true test to us is not whether compulsory certification could be limited to specific work types or work situations, etc. (which we believe could occur), but whether enacting such a regime would create the likelihood of increased or decreased impact on protecting the Public Interest and trade and other workers as it relates to “the risk of harm” and what overall costs/benefits may occur to minimally achieve equivalent protection.  We should, as the Public, never anticipate and we should never agree to any act to rollback any protections currently enjoyed by the Public and workers, no matter how compulsory certification could hypothetically be revamped.

We then view this situation as follows:

  • If the current certification structure (“whole trade”) is deemed to be deficient for a trade to meeting the duty of minimizing the risk of harm to the Public or workers, then the CoT has the obligation  to act, and its actions could likely take one of many strategies, including evaluating the need for increased enforcement or perhaps looking at  “work based” approach to compulsory certification.
  • If the current certification structure (“whole trade”) is deemed to be appropriate to meeting the duty of minimizing the risk of harm to the Public or workers, then the CoT has the likely obligation  not to act (irrespective of Private Interests attempts to make the CoT do so) and should be appropriately challenged if it chooses to do so.
  • If the current certification structure (“whole trade”) is deemed to be appropriate to meeting the duty of minimizing the risk of harm to the Public or workers, but that trades Trade Board determines to initiate a Trades Classification review process then the CoT should likely expect this issue to be raised during that process.

A significant challenge to any potential change for trades that are currently compulsory is the simple fact that there is very likely usable data history of “harm” occurring in, and due to, these trades.  While we don’t believe that the data shows 100% complete or perfect “protection” we suspect that very usable baselines can be established and it will show very high and acceptable levels of protection.  We expect it will be challenging for any other regime (e.g. making only certain work compulsory) to prove that the regime change will not diminish or make worse the current protection and performance levels.  It will be highly speculative compared to a known past and future under the current “whole trade” approach.

A significant part of any evaluation would be to determine the likely impact on enforcement, and ancillary type activities that may occur on any change and any other “non-harm” related aspects that may change.  For instance, will enforcement resources have to increase dramatically compared to the current resource level and would an increase in required resources (if an increase was required) consume any potential benefits.

Additionally, there tend to be natural groupings or loci of work that are more or less holistic by their definition.  For instance,  in glazing installing curtain wall is a grouping of specific work activities some of which likely possess more risk of harm than others, but it is inconceivable in any practical sense (although theoretically possible) to split this work into compulsory and voluntary activities, and not enable worksite chaos.

However, going forward with voluntary trades who desire to become compulsory such a framework could be workable and beneficial.  With these trades, where there is no history of decades of compulsory work, constructing a more flexible enforcement regime may be beneficial.    As we have stated elsewhere such an approach should be left up to the proponents, opponents and Review Panels to determine on a case-by-case basis.  Importantly, we are against any move to disaggregate trades into smaller trades if it is feasible to isolate compulsory from voluntary elements.

We are ambivalent toward dogmatically or prescriptively making an entire trades compulsory (that were previously voluntary) or various work within sectors that the trade works in or very narrowly defined tasks.  As we have recommended elsewhere there should be no structural exclusion to any of these approaches (and in fact creative approaches should be encouraged) and then we leave it up to the proponents, opponents and Review Panel to present their best evidence and make their best decisions.  However, we are completely against any ancillary action that would disaggregate trades in their formal SoP.

20) Should the College continue to rely on an adjudicative review panel approach (i.e. the OLRB model) or should a different model be considered?

20.1) Review Panel Performance to Date

In general, we submit that the current process as set out in legislation is effective, acceptable and not in any significant need of change (certainly not deserving of stopping activity in this area).  We have reviewed, in detail, every decision (and associated submissions from various parties) and agree with every decision made by all the Review Panels for both Apprentice Ratios and Trade Classification.  Major process changes WILL NOT improve decisions.  We desire certainty of process not certainty of outcome and suggest caution that those dissatisfied with the current process primarily desire a certainty of outcome favourable to their position.

Our view of the current very effective review panel model is:

  • The process is open, public, transparent, fair and structured (which is the most critical principle)
    • Participation is voluntary and available to any organization or person
    • The process is open and information is available to all
    • The engagement parameters (e.g. the criteria, timeline) are fair
    • The process parameters are structured and not subject to change
  • It is adjudicated by peers, which is a hallmark of effective adjudication, who are required to be free of “bias”, impartial, fair  (which is the second most important principle)
    • We have seen potential “bias” only once and it was in a  minority dissent position
  • The process is sufficiently flexible and robust to enable correct decisions in the face of varying submissions, varying engagement for varying parties, varying importance of the criteria to individual situations, etc. (which is the third most important principle)
  • It has proven to be the correct approach as we conclude that all decisions have been reasonable and appropriate
    • In particular the adjudicators as a group have proven themselves reasoned and reasonable and have proven capable in distinguishing between effective and ineffective submissions
  • Organizations participating in the process have been fairly accommodated:
    •  We expect that organizations devote whatever resources they so choose to participate in whichever ways they so choose to best influence a decision favourable to their position
      • Organizations should not be enabled to influence this process via external process and there should be penalties for attempts at external influence
    • We provide no accommodation to organizations that either choose not to participate or do so ineffectively
  • Our primary concerns with the current process relate to participation as follows:
    • It seems difficult for individuals to effectively participate, however this may just be natural outcome of the desire for the types of submissions that individuals may be too challenged to make, and given the broad based impact of the decisions this may not be a significant problem (it is hard for any individual to speak authoritatively as the representative  for any larger group)
    • It seems the  Public Interest may not be independently well represented in the process as perhaps it could be, which we qualify as follows:
      • The concept of  the Public Interest is somewhat undefined and malleable to the circumstance at hand, which may be good or bad
      • For Apprentice Ratio decisions, which we view as primarily internal to any trade, this may not be an important issue
      • We believe the Public Interest was well represented in the Sprinkler Installer compulsory review by the Fire Professionals, and while the majority decision properly reflected their commentary (it was the key decision factor), it was rejected by the minority position; and hence this is one conundrum of injecting the Public Interest into this process
      • We expect that submitters will source and provide Public Interest perspectives where they believe it valuable to do so.

We offer this additional observation: the CoT limits the length of submissions.  We initially believed this would prove problematic but as it appears the very few submissions ever meet the page limitation this appears to not be a problem.

Lastly, and importantly, we understand the impact differential between Apprentice Ratio reviews and Trade Classification reviews, and so grouping Ratios with Classification may not be the perfect approach.  Before this Tony Dean review occurred, we would have very much preferred to have had at least two Trades Classification decisions to enable a more effective review and which would have helped us suggest better changes (if in fact any are required).  We reiterate our initial view, as only interested observers, the Sprinkler Installer Review decision was correct and no alternative process could therefore have produced a better outcome as most importantly fire professionals (who represented the Public Interest very well) and the industry supported that outcome.  For all the dogmatic criticisms by those who opposed that decision we offer this: a) they had a fair opportunity to put forth persuasive arguments to support their view and simply failed to do so, b) the minority dissenting opinion seemed biased to us towards a Private Interest preference (when there was limited data presented to support that position) c) the use of external influence to attempt to influence a favourable outcome is harmful and unacceptable.

We offer this summary observation regarding our engagement with the Review Panel process (for the apprenticeship ratio of our trade).  Our trade strategically determined the type of submission we would make, based on a number of factors including our expectation of potential quality of any likely opposition and acted accordingly knowing the risks of our plan.  Our recommendation was opposed by a substantial organization whose submission and engagement we consider deficient.   That organization simply didn’t know much about the glazing trade, and were espousing a simplistic and dogmatic position weak on convincing arguments.  Their position was appropriately rejected (which we expected).  We expect and predict that organizations who are unable or unwilling to craft and submit persuasive arguments would/will engage in external influence tactics and other campaigns to try and “get their way”.  This we believe should and will ultimately prove very wasteful or many CoT stakeholders time and resources.

We recommend against any change to the current Review Panel process, or the structure of the Review Panel process. 

However as this process, which we believe works very effectively has seemingly become quite contentious, we offer potential changes below2.  We do so with again these provisos:

  • We support every decision made by Review Panels to-date, and consequently see no change that could improve this record.
  • Those who are dissatisfied with the current Review Panel process, we believe are and will continue to be dissatisfied unless they see all decisions favour their positions and will continue to work outside the CoT attempting to gain outcome certainty (whilst we desire process certainty).

20.2) Potential Structural Issue with Three Person Panel

We believe three person review panels are a well accepted independent decision making structure used around the world in all sorts of situations for all sorts of decisions; many of which are far more complex and far reaching than decisions made by the CoT panels.  We also believe that the panelist “peer group” strategy is again well used throughout the world and in a broad range of situations.  We believe it is a basic tenet of effective jurisprudence, and conclude this is an effective structure. 

Having reviewed every decision made by every panel, we conclude that no bad or wrong decisions were made based on the submissions made to the panels.  In fact, all panel decisions were correct and their decision rationales seemed very reasonable.  This provides us with confidence that the three person structure is effective.

Is there a profile of the “perfect” panelist?  Yes there is, and we define them as a peer, possessing honesty, integrity, and free of bias.  We believe there is an abundance of those persons living in Ontario, and believe the group of assembled adjudicators fit that profile very well.  We don’t believe that a master economist, master tradesperson, master H&S person, possessing vast trades and business expertise, with an uncanny capacity to accurately predict the future exists as best we know.  Nor do we believe if such a person existed they would make better decisions than the review panelists have.

What should the “peers” be skilled in? They should be skilled in the trades (either as employees and/or employers) and they should possess sufficient skill to be able to effectively work through submissions and compare to the criteria and alternate submissions and make fair, impartial and committed decisions.   We believe a peer employee is a journeyperson holding a CoQ (most likely in a Red Seal trade), and a peer employer employs journeypersons and apprentices3.  It should remain the responsibility of submitters (either proponents of change or opponents to change) to craft their arguments and submissions in ways that are understandable to the peers who sit on the panel.

Should there be an independent Chair? What should the independent Chair be skilled in?  The Chair should be independent of being either an employee or employer representative and free of bias to any trade or group being evaluated.  We believe a Chair should possess experience in this type of adjudicative process, expertise in “business oriented” law, a good understanding of the trades, etc.  While we don’t know the inner workings of these Panels, we expect the Chair’s expertise is relied on by the other Panelists.  We are indifferent as to whether these Chairs are sourced from the OLRB or elsewhere.  Additionally, we have no specific concerns regarding any Chair and potential bias for any proceedings to date (and we believe claims of bias by various SIG’s were used to derail proper proceedings).  We believe and expect that when a Chair is assigned to a Panel that those doing the assigning have conducted the proper due diligence to ensure bias or the potential for bias doesn’t exist.

Lastly, should the panel have three, five, seven or some other number of members?  The key question to answer is what general influence the independent and voting Chair should have in the decision making framework.  Under a three person regime the Chair holds a 33% vote power, and potentially deciding influence when the other two panelists disagree.  Whilst we are fully satisfied with and prefer the three person panel, it may prove more agreeable to certain SIG’s (who have expressed non-stop criticism of the panels) to the current structure to have five Panelists (for example two employee representatives, two employer representatives and an independent Chair), where in this case the voting power of the Chair would be greatly diminished.  Our concern is that while decisions will not be improved, logistical and other potential complications will likely reduce the efficiency compared to a three person panel model.

We conclude the current Panel model is as effective as original designers believed it would be and there is no inherent problem or need to reconstruct the current Panel model.  Our primary recommendation is to leave the Panel design as is.  However, we would be willing to expand the number of panelists to five, but keep all other aspects of the panel construct the same.

20.3) Potential for Bias

Bias, whether real, potential, or imagined has become an unproductive distraction to the Review Panel process.   Various SIG’s have been publicly expressing significant and ongoing concerns implying that bias (or the reasonable apprehension of bias) exists within this process (and use this strategy, in our opinion, in lieu of providing effective and convincing submissions).  We expressly reject this notion.   We have seen only one minority position statement that we consider potentially biased, and view the cries of bias as a failed strategy to hopefully change the process to one completely favourable to their objectives.

We hold the CoT somewhat accountable for the ongoing bias distraction, in a number of ways including:

  • We suspect the CoT has not provided adjudicators specific guidance as to what the Public Interest is and consequently panelists are free to make their own interpretations on this important issue
  • The CoT has not well communicated its strategy and rationale for assigning peers and Chairs to the panels
  • The CoT has not provided useful submission guidelines (or rules of engagement) for both submitters and panelists to use (for instance, referencing all data sources, etc.).

However, under no circumstance do we view these failures as importantly diminishing the value and correctness of the Panel decisions.

It is reasonable, appropriate, and correct to expect that if you adjudicate with journeypersons (i.e. holders of CoQ’s) that they will view the world as a CoQ holder, and employer of journeypersons as a journeyperson employing employer and an OLRB Chair as an OLRB Chair.  This is exactly what a reasonable person would expect from any panelist.  Except as we identify below, we have seen no evidence of structural or recurring bias.

We consider it is bias when adjudicators dogmatically, or presumptively, and/or with prejudice favour a predetermined outcome (or one that builds burdens of proof (for instance to some unspecified standard) so onerous as to realize the same outcome).  This behaviour is a serious problem that needs to be eliminated and protected against as the costs of bias are too high to bear.

We consider the minority position in the Sprinkler Installer compulsory certification review to potentially be bias4 and this is troubling to us.  We have concluded this as: we reviewed all the submissions, attended the public consultations and had discussions with various adjudication experts.  We accurately predicted the outcome and our commentary on this review reflected that of the majority.  Our commentary in summary was this:  the proponent’s submission was generally deficient, but as the fire professionals (who we interpret as protecting the Public Interest), the industry as a whole and various impacted trades supported it, we concluded the trade should be made compulsory. While, for instance, a better economic assessment theorizing on the potential positive/negative/neutral impacts, may have been helpful, it would not have been as impactful as having the fire professionals support.  As we were only observers (wanting to gain more knowledge about the process) we consider our position to have been a reasonable person and unbiased viewpoint.

We were surprised with the strongly worded negative commentary of the minority position.  The position both rejected the firefighter, industry and supporter submissions and attempted to construct a new decision making model that we believe would be so onerous as to preclude any trade from gaining compulsory status.  We further believe this position expressed a very strong preference of employer Private Interests over all other Interests.  This expressed belief structure is in our opinion beyond the bounds of what a Panelist should carry into these reviews.  While we possess specific concerns about the minority position we are thankful that a) the opinion was only the minority opinion and b) brought many unexpressed, hidden and underlying perceptions, belief systems and issues into view and now provide the CoT the opportunity to set about to manage and preferably eliminate this type of problem. 

We expect the CoT and those who select and appoint panelists implement all standard and normal process and structures to eliminate bias.  Such items as Codes of Conduct (requiring commitment to the principles the CoT deems important (e.g. commitment to protect the Public Interest), etc.), proper training (to fully understand rules of evidence and adjudication, understanding of Public Interest (and vs. Private Interest), regular performance reviews, etc. are already in place and if not then they should be implemented.

To minimize and hopefully eliminate bias we recommend that Panelists be provided appropriate training, be subjected to proper review and scrutiny, and be held responsible and to account for any bias.

20.4) Notification and Public Engagement Process

To us one of the most critical aspects of all Panel Reviews is that they are public, transparent and open processes with good notification enabling interested parties to fully participate.  One of key reasons we supported the creation of the CoT was that MTCU worked continuously in non-open ways, which we considered detrimental to many stakeholders and favourable to a few.

We are satisfied with both the CoT notification process and the in-use timelines for CoT stakeholders for:

  • Internal CoT decisions to be made to move forward after a Trade Board has started the process
  • Notification to the public that a review will take place
    • we provide no accommodation to any organization who claims “foul” regarding notification as we consider it their responsibility to stay abreast of these developments and consider it little to no work to check the CoT website on a regular basis (it takes less than a minute to do so)
  • Submissions to the Panel
    • sixty days is sufficient for any organization (either proponent or opponent) to craft and make submissions
  • Public discussion
    • again the notification, timeline and engagement process is workable, and we agree that only those who make written submissions should be able to take part in these discussions
  • Panel decisions
    • we would like to see this timeline reduced but understand the many variables that come into play and are satisfied with the timeline, so long as the timeline does not include the potential for political or any other interference that is external to the described process

Again we indicate a potential difficulty for individuals or the “public” in general to stay abreast and responsive to the notification and engagement process.  As we have indicated elsewhere we are unsure, given all the principles, variables and likely impacts, as to how changing the current processes will make things better.  We have faith that the formal and informal networks that CoT stakeholders have ensure that notification and engagement to individuals and public representatives occurs (we have done this ourselves).

We recommend the notification and public engagement process remain as it is.  We consider the current notification and engagement process to be effective.

21) How should expert opinion be obtained?

We view expert opinion not in isolation but as a form of evidence in a continuum of data, information, commentary, opinion and other evidence that can and should be legitimately provided by submitters to the Review Panels to best advocate their positions.  We also don’t believe that expert opinion innately possesses more influence than other evidence. If submitters choose to acquire expert opinion in place of or to support other evidence they should do so.  We fully expect that submitters will only provide expert opinion that is beneficial to their position.  Proper panel decisions can be made either with or without expert opinion.

When it is provided, we have faith that the Review Panelists possess sufficient competence to discriminate between “real” and “faux” expert opinion, or expert opinion whose purpose is for undo or improper influence.  We are unsure if specific credentials should be required before someone can claim to be either an expert or possess expertise.  We are unsure whether being positioned as an expert provides any specific innate influence,  and we suspect the strength of their arguments is what is important to Panelists.

We are additionally unsure as to what the limits of expert opinion may be, for instance, we consider many of our journeyperson glaziers to be experts in the field of glazing.  We could offer their expert opinion but the impact of this opinion, we would expect, would be limited and not generally influential.  For instance, his/her opinion on curtain wall installation could be acceptable, but if his/her opinion wandered into curtain wall design or engineering, we would expect the Review Panel to appropriately reject that opinion. 

Additionally, we would expect very few experts to ever offer an expert opinion specifically whether a trade should be made compulsory or not, as for most this would be beyond their area of expertise.  However, if an expert suggests training or demonstrable skill level (e.g. certification) of some kind that equates in all practical sense to a compulsory certification, it would be reasonable for a Panel to conclude that is evidence favouring compulsory certification. It would be unreasonable and potentially biased to conclude otherwise.

We also expect that expert opinion is more or less likely controversial depending on its use in the submissions.  For instance, we consider the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF) as providing expert opinion in many areas where it has conducted properly designed and executed research.   We expect and predict that if the CAF’s research on return on apprentice investment is provided in any submission it will cause a storm of controversy, even though it is expert opinion.  We fully expect that the Panelists and other submitters to properly vet this research and come to a proper conclusion as to its usefulness.

Should only certain types of expert opinion be acceptable?  Say for instance engineering expert opinion is acceptable but not economist expert opinion?  We believe there should be no such limits.  We offer this potential example and conundrum of expert opinion, there was recently in Ontario an “Expert Panel” that produced the Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety, Report, December 2010, that contained forty-six recommendations.  We believe that while not all recommendations have been adopted by the Ministry of Labour, submissions to the Review Panels could use properly use and or all of the recommendations of that report to support their position.  Proponents using this report would likely believe it would carry weight in a decision, and opponents would likely attempt to diminish its potential influence. Having reviewed the report in detail, we expect that some Panelists would accept the findings in that report and others would reject some or all of the findings on various basis (maybe concluding a lack of empirical evidence).

We believe, supported by Panel process and decisions to date, that Panelists can and do, as expected, evaluate submissions, question submitters on the data presented (including expert opinion) and then determine which submissions and information are most believable and decide accordingly.  We also believe the open and public nature of the process, where submitters do have the opportunity to challenge others is another safeguard.  We also believe that the role of an independent Chair who possesses expertise in law is a key safeguard against undue influence of expert opinion.

We make no specific recommendations regarding the sourcing and use of expert opinion in any Panel review.  We believe all submitters have the right to present their presumed experts and we expect the Panelists and other participants to properly vet any presumed expertise.

21.1) Burden of Proof, Data, etc.

Before we provide our specific viewpoint on burden of proof, and the nature and quality of evidence and data that should be presented in submissions, we offer this very relevant observation on this entire subject (which we believe is somewhat of a red herring to prevent trades from becoming compulsory). To the best of our knowledge all the major national and international governments and their agencies, using the best world-class experts and best world-class empirical evidence had built their economic growth projections based on oil +$US90/barrel (which is likely the most researched commodity in the world given its significant importance to the wealth of nations and individuals) and were caught completely off-guard when the price of oil collapsed in a very short period of time to -$US60/barrel and were forced into emergency revisions of these projections. 

Based on the above example, we then predict this with great confidence, any and all future pointing evidence based on any assumption, no matter what burden placed on it, provided in good faith to any of the Panels can be wrong, either in part or in whole, either at a specific point in time or over time in the future. All future pointing decisions (either to change a trades classification or leave it as is) possess the inherent risk of being wrong to some degree, either in a more positive or negative direction.  Opponents of the CoT will attempt to influence this basic fact into paralyzing the CoT from ever making any other trade or trade activities compulsory.  We completely oppose the opponents position and believe their position is simply a reflection of their self-interest.

Who bears the burden of proof?  What standard should the proof reach?  Of all the types of data, which are more important?  Of data presented how is the veracity of the data evaluated?  How are past and present extrapolated into the future?  Who should be able to present data?

To date we conclude that sufficient evidence of a sufficient quality has been presented to all Review Panels to enable them to make proper decisions.  We also believe the Panels possess the authority and the freedom and the obligation to make decision as they saw fit based on the evidence presented to them.

We also suggest and approve fully the concept that panel decisions may hinge on one, a few or a broad collection of evidence that supports a decision, and that such evidence may generate a cautioned or fully supported decision.  One specific piece of evidence (for example, the expert opinion of fire professionals) may be wholly sufficient to not only effect a decision in its singularity but overwhelm countervailing evidence.  Again we believe the Panels possess all the tools they need to make good effective decisions.

We are completely against any burdens of proof, or fabricated data standards whose purpose is primarily to limit or eliminate the potential for Trades Classifications reviews to occur.  We agree with basic requirements such as properly referencing data points, etc. but those requirements need to be properly discussed before implemented.  We repeat to date, after reviewing all panel decisions we see no evidence of where these potential issues have caused wrong or bad decisions.

While we are unsure as to how it may actually occur, we believe the Review Panel should have the capability to “fact/data check”.  The fact checking should not only enable the checking as to what was stated was actually correct, but also whether and to the extent that facts presented may have been repurposed to express a specific viewpoint.   We express concern that this authority must be executed subject to limitations and in a way that is actually beneficial.

We provide a simple but real example, of the potential risks and issues associated with “data and fact checking”.  When we presented our Apprentice Ratio journeyperson and apprentice data we presented our numbers of apprentices (say xx).  Our numbers (facts) were based on the detailed by apprentice/journeyperson records that our glazier LAC keeps.  Another group, opposing our recommendation, presented an entirely different set of numbers (say yy), which was based on “supposed” MTCU and/or CoT numbers.  As we explained to the Panel we believed/knew the MTCU numbers were factually wrong (due to specific structural problems in the data collection processes5) and that as CoT numbers were primarily based on MTCU numbers that they were likely wrong also.  We were chastised by the Panel in their decision, which was improper and wrong, as the CoT has finally learned/realized the MTCU numbers were factually incorrect as we had claimed.  In fact, the issue of the 100% correct number is still ongoing and was discussed at a glazier trade board meeting in February 2015.  The perfect exactness of any number to us is less relevant compared to the purpose, relevance and use of the data.

A problem, and potentially a significant problem, is that depending on what a Panel decides to fact check, this fact checking could: a) take a very long time to complete, b) extend beyond the scope of the initial data presented and c) come to a wrong conclusion.  For instance, our above stated example, while simple to clear up, took some time before the CoT data became “true”.  A significant concern relates to “fact checking” economic data that may be relatively simple and assumptions free or may be very complex and very assumption dependent.  We expect that the panels would turn to the CoT for assistance in this task but are unsure how the CoT would actually execute this task. The CoT may execute this task likely by commissioning various studies from various government and similar agencies (Statistics Canada, Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, etc.)

We recommend providing the Panels with the capability to “fact check” submissions as they deem fit once they have established a rigorous framework scoping the limits of this capability.

21.2) Sprinkler Installer Case Review and its impact

The Sprinkler Installer decision was predictable and predicted by us (down to a potential split between panelists) and ultimately for all the imperfections and weaknesses of all submissions it was the correct decision.  It also exposed two very relevant issues: a) the basis upon which a correct decision can be made and b) the very troubling potential for “bias” that needs to be eliminated from these important decisions.  Our learning and commentary from that process are provided below.

Firstly, the fact that the Sprinkler Installer trade was not made compulsory when it was created is, in our opinion, a clear statement of the failure of MTCU to properly oversight the trades.  The Sprinkler Installer situation and environment we believe has essentially been present since it first became a trade.  This is one example of why so many stakeholders convinced the government to create the CoT in the first place

In our opinion, the proponent submissions were generally deficient and not supportive of the trade becoming compulsory. However they possessed a) significant support of the fire fighting and prevention professionals across Ontario and b) broad based stakeholder support.  Additionally and importantly, the opponents failed to present a sufficiently compelling argument for the trade to remain voluntary.  To us the presented evidence was sufficient to deem the trade compulsory.  In this situation the expert opinion of the fire professionals was by itself sufficient to make the trade compulsory as the Public Interest impact was significant.

We also don’t expect that other trades desiring to become compulsory should expect to make similarly deficient submissions and become compulsory. We could easily see a well crafted application to become compulsory fail if its SoP was deficient to the trade becoming compulsory (which of course assumes at least one opponent would submit to the weakness of the SoP).  We have full confidence in the current process that deficient submissions, either for or against any action being taken, will be rejected.   In fact we would be very surprised if this were to happen.

The fact that the correct decision was made, in spite of various deficiencies, reflects:

  • The general process and structure of the trades classification process is effective, robust and correct
  • Panels comprised of peers can take in evidence of various quality and make proper decisions
  • Protection of the Public Interest is as important as we always believed it is, even if it is not well defined by the CoT
  • Experts (in this case fire services professionals from across Ontario) are powerful evidence and likely more valuable than other data when effectively utilized
  • The future is uncertain and no amount of historical or current data or expert opinion guarantees any future, it is the knowledge and wisdom of the Panelists who are tasked with envisioning a future
  • So long as “bias” is limited to a minority of Panelists a correct decision can still be realized.

We understand the Sprinkler Installer decision was derided in various SIG’s across Ontario.  We have seen a negative impact on the CoT as a result.  However, we hope and expect that the CoT and stakeholder groups are now fully focused and engaged with planning for the date when the Sprinkler Installer trade becomes fully compulsory.  We fully expect the CoT to prepare and execute an appropriate strategy to make this happen, and we expect the CoT to engage select CoT stakeholders to design a strategy that can be replicated if other trades become compulsory.  For instance, we have advocated that the CoT, by normal course of action, enable a flexible process to enable the uncertified to become certified.  The cost, or some portion of, of which an “enhanced” strategy should be borne by the industry gaining the enhanced strategy.

We recommend that the CoT, Panelists, Government of Ontario and CoT members and stakeholders embrace and celebrate the Sprinkler Installer decision.   We recommend the CoT begin work immediately on designing an effective implementation strategy.

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

Before we provide fuller commentary we take issue and disagree completely with any notion that “the public interest is not articulated in the criteria for review panel decisions on trade classification or reclassification requests”.  Point of fact we identify the “public” is expressly identified in criteria ii and iv, that the term “environment” in criteria iii is primarily a Public Interest concern and that the Public Interest is implied in other criteria.

22.1) The Criteria and Submissions

We believe the criteria used for framing submissions, discussions and decisions are consistent with the Public Interest (even though it hasn’t been specifically defined).  The chosen criteria in large part reflect the purpose and mandate of the CoT, and in particular:

  • The thread of Public Interest is in many of the criteria (both explicitly and implicitly6) and this to us is the single most important issue as it should be
  • The thread of human capital interests (apprentices and journeypersons) that is evident in many of the criteria and has an implied Public Interest
  • The appropriate role of financial capital interests (employers, etc.) that is evident and has an implied Public Interest.

We believe the crafters of this criteria framework, after significant public discussion and debate, got it right.  As we identify elsewhere, we have reviewed all the Panel decisions (Ratios and Trade Classification) and agree with all the decisions.  A key element into the proper decisions is the criteria framework and how it has helped both those making submissions and Panelists focus on central issues.
Should the criteria be restructured into a different framework (e.g. formal weighting of criteria to perhaps overweight Public Interest issues)?  We suggest not.  In our opinion the Panels trade off all aspects of decision making no matter how the criteria would be structured and we have faith in the Panels to identify what is more and less important in any decision they make. 
There are a number of key principles reflecting our position:

  • There are over 150 trades.  We believe there is a very significant divergence and difference in many aspects of most of these trades.  The Iron Worker trade likely holds very little in common with the Baker — patissier trade (including potential Public Interest issues).  We suspect the structure of their industries is different, we suspect the organization of work is different (including for instance structure of employer organizations, the nature of work environments, etc.). Mandating a weighted framework would likely cause sub-optimal decision making.
  • We have full faith in panels of peers, who have themselves as a group competent and without bias.
  • The seven criteria cover the comprehensive set of issues that we believe enable proper discussion of all the Public Interest and Private Interest stakeholder issues.  In designing this model, we think it wise not to structurally prioritize relative importance.
  • A structured weighting will likely at times obfuscate the critical elements of why trade may or may be made compulsory or voluntary, or why a ratio should be this or that.  For instance, in our opinion, barring any extremely valuable and overriding counterevidence the fact that the entire fire professional community was in favour of making Sprinkler Installer trade compulsory was sufficient to make that trade compulsory.  They in their role of Public Interest protectors and with their expertise on fire prevention, fire fighting and the real human cost of fires, irrespective of any opinion indicating otherwise, by the standard of reasonable people would accept their decision. 
  • We also believe the most problematic criteria is Economic impact for many reasons including:
    • It has many described aspects to it, more than any other criteria that includes very significant and real divergences of Public Interest vs. Private Interest objectives
    • It is difficult for (non-)professionals to research and craft good convincing economic arguments that may or may not have value particularly as it relates to Public Interest impacts.
    • Economic arguments can be relatively simple (e.g. current wage rates for unionized apprentices in compulsory trades) to more complex (e.g. current wage rates for apprentices in non-union companies) to full of conjecture (e.g. whether making a trade compulsory (or voluntary) will create net wealth/benefits in Ontario (a Public Interest concern), who will enjoy this wealth/benefits (a Private Interest concern) and over what time frame).  As the arguments become more broad and subject to conjecture their “value” to the Panel likely diminishes and we provide one potential issue:
      • If some portion of a voluntary trades work is currently being done illegally (e.g. work done for cash and not reported as income) and the trade make application to become compulsory.  We expect there would benefits gained from an expected reduction in illegal work being done (due to enforcement), but economic model would not likely be sufficiently definitive as to be more definitive then a statement like “we expect benefits to be realized” as the underlying model assumptions are likely based on conjecture of an unknowable extent of illegal work.
    • We believe many who dogmatically oppose any trade becoming compulsory would place such a burden on supposed “proof of economic benefit” as to make any economic argument unacceptable.  This is a position in our opinion preferring Private Interests of the status quo.

There is not, and nor should there likely be, any formal prescriptive guidance as to what specifically should be in any criteria regarding Public Interest evidence and we leave that entirely up to the submitters.  Generally, we believe verifiable/believable/sensible data and expert opinion are quite valuable, as is stakeholder opinion, and we expect most Panels can make determinations separating believable from unbelievable data or opinion.  For instance, apprentices presenting their opinion that apprenticeship is more beneficial than other employment situations they have experienced, or that apprenticeship in compulsory trades is more beneficial than in voluntary trades, is a worthwhile opinion on its own and can be made more valuable when backed up with various other “data” (e.g. completion rates in compulsory vs. voluntary trades) even if that data is not specific to their trade (in this case it would be impossible to present that data as the trade is not compulsory and that direct evidence can only gained via post hoc analysis).  Such a perspective if it were ever to be offered has both Public Interest (meeting future forecast skilled trades labour gaps) and Private Interest (employment opportunities for apprentices specifically).
We also believe that basic data supplied by (near) government organizations (like WSIB, MTCU, Stats Canada, etc.) is also very valuable to Public Interest discussions but likely controversial.  We leave this up to Panelist and submitters to determine the usefulness of any of this data related to Public Interest discussions.
We recommend no changes be made to criteria and submissions in any way, shape or form, as we believe the Public Interest concerns are well presented.  We have faith that Panelists can make effective decisions based on whatever submissions are and we believe that organizations should have to freedom to make whatever submissions they believe are most effective to their position.

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

23.1) Specificity, Clarity and Measurability of the Criteria

We believe all seven of the criteria are well written and sufficiently specific, clear and measurable to provide us, and any other competent person or organization, the sense as to what data and evidence should be presented to enable the best opportunity to achieve their objectives.  We are 100% certain of this particularly as it relates to organizations, and suggest organizations who claim otherwise do so with the intent to structurally advantage the process to their objectives.

Point of fact we are truly astonished that any competent organization can’t read those seven criteria, understand their meaning and intent, and come to exactly the same conclusion as we have.  The criteria, to our expectation, are not meant to be prescriptive or dogmatic, they are established with implied clarity of purpose, to provide submitters the best opportunity to put forth the evidence that they believe is most advantageous to their position.  Again we will reiterate this we make no accommodation for any organization, they choose to participate as they choose, they choose to devote whatever resources they choose to.  If organizations lack the internal competence to craft effective submissions then they should hire external resources to assist them.  If organizations fail to properly participate it is unacceptable to us that they then cry “foul” over seven very clearly written and purposed criteria.

We view the seven criteria as a whole comprehensive framework.  We reject any notion from any party espousing that criteria iv “the economic impact” has any greater structural or inherent importance than any of the other criteria, or that criteria v is structurally less important.   We leave it up to the judgement of submitters to focus their arguments where they view most advantageous to their position and we leave it up to the judgement of the panels to determine whether the presented arguments are sufficiently persuasive or not.  We are against any restructuring of the criteria to structural advantage any position.

However this doesn’t mean that all seven criteria are equally as easy to effectively respond to, or that choices don’t have to be made to meet the twenty-five page submission limit.  In particular we view criteria iv as likely the most difficult to complete effectively for any submission.  But  we are not put off or discouraged or view ourselves as inadequate to the implied task of criteria iv.  Our primary concern regarding criteria iv is that the potential data requirements, modeling, etc. of building economic arguments particularly if all or most of the sub-areas are to be addressed (e.g. Public impact or apprentice impact) may be impeded with a twenty-five page limit.

We are concerned that the opponents of the CoT and/or of any trade becoming compulsory are attempting to unduly influence and build a framework around criteria iv that will make it impossible to become so in the future.  The creation of false standards or measurements may make it so burdensome on proponents as to eliminate future submissions.  We have faith in ourselves, other potential competent proponents and the review panels themselves that effective submissions will be made and effective decisions best be made leaving the criteria as is exactly as presented.

We state the criteria are sufficiently specific, clear and measurable to the purpose at hand and recommend against the restructuring of the seven criteria in any way, shape or form.  We do recommend increasing the twenty-five page limit to fifty pages

23.2) Accommodation of Potential Participants

There is nothing structurally deficient or biased in the Review Panel structure or the review process or the criteria.  All aspects of the process are specific, clear and measurable. 

Consequently, corporations, associations, and similar organizations should be expected to conduct their business related to Review Panels in any way they see fit so long as it meets the described structure and process.  If organizations choose to put significant time and attention to making the best submissions they can that is their business, as it is their business only if they choose to not participate or put in deficient submissions.  Organizations should receive no internal accommodation, external influence, or structural bias to assist them for deficient efforts.

Individuals, on the other hand and based on our review and observations, may have a difficult time effectively participating in this process and understanding the criteria. We acknowledge this but are unsure of:

  • individuals with little to offer other than personal experience or opinion should carry much impact and be accommodated and if so how, and we believe personal experience and opinion are accommodated in the criteria
  • individuals who make submissions in their professional roles and offering professional opinion likely need no accommodation.

We are also somewhat unsure how the Public Interest could be best accommodated, including a truly independent Public Interest voice, if one actually exists.  We are , however sure the criteria are clear regarding Public Interest.   As in the Sprinkler Installer Review, the proponent very appropriately gained support for Ontario’s fire professionals.  We believe the fire professionals speak on behalf of the Public Interest, with no bias to either proponents or opponents.  We are not surprised that the opponents didn’t present the fire professionals to support their position, as clearly the fire professionals wouldn’t.  We expect that in all Review Panel processes organizations will, if they believe it is supportive to the position, solicit representatives who can speak for the Public Interest.  Our concern then focuses on likely situations where there: is a real and specific Public Interest issue that requires a submission and none is presented, or where the Public Interest is best served with input that is free from either proponents or opponents inherent positions.

It may be that the CoT can act as a focal point to ensure that independent Public Interest input is acquired when required.  We expect that the CoT, given its knowledge of all Panels, could effectively develop a Public Interest framework that is a requirement for consideration by any Trade Board before it initiates a review proposal (as part of the proposal).  We also expect that the Public Interest type issues are likely somewhat limited in number, readily identifiable, etc. (as risk of fire and fire impacts was for the Sprinkler Installer trade) as to enable the CoT to build a competence in this area.

With regards to accommodating non-professional individuals, we are unsure how this could be improved and what positive impact may be realized from an increase in individual participation.  We suggest the CoT continuously improve its communications outreach strategies so that as many individuals will participate as is possible.
 
We recommend no accommodation be made for any organization to participate in Reviews, whether they understand the criteria or not.  We recommend that the CoT design and implement a Public Interest capability to ensure that Public Interest issues are not neglected in these Reviews.  We recommend the CoT continue to improve its communications outreach to encourage private individuals to participate and provide specific guidelines for them.

24) Are the existing criteria the right criteria?

24.1) Criteria, Decisions and the Shaping the Future

The current criteria were developed after significant public consultations and discussions and debate.  We express our disappointment that after only one Trades Classification review this issue is again being brought up for debate.  Had this review occurred following at least one additional review we believe our position on all the Trades Classification issues would have been more fully and completed supported.  We also suggest potential improvements would have been more apparent.  We state without hesitation or reservation that the existing criteria are the right, correct and proper criteria.

The overarching issue related to any criteria set is whether, given all expectations of reasoned decisions, etc., is whether Trade Classifications decisions turn out, over the future period, to be good decisions, generating net overall benefits to the entire group of Public and Private Interests.  As no decision has yet to be implemented to date, it is simply impossible to make any definitive conclusion as to whether this was the right or best criteria set.  We are however fully confident that tremendous due diligence occurred in the developing of these criteria, and that these criteria are innately “right”.  We are also fully confident that the built-in flexibility of their potential use enables broad based usefulness to likely any Trades Classification review that may occur.

A simple reality is that no person and no group can predict with 100% confidence all of the future impacts of any Trades Classification decision.  There will be both positive and negative intended and unintended consequences of any decision.  Some likely impacts are better definable as they are within more common and known experiences of the trades and the CoT (enforcement will occur, apprentice completion rates will increase, improved public protection, etc.) but the full impacts will not likely be forecastable with 100% confidence.  Many impacts are less definable as they are very uncertain (will net economic benefits increase or decrease or stay stagnant, or will distribution of wealth change, and if changed will it be better for Ontario) and intertwined with broad externalities that likely exceed the capacity of any group to accurately predict.  This however should not preclude progression into a better trades system.

Following on the implied uncertainty of the future, we conclude there is no set of criteria that will be perfectly useful or “right” given the luxury of looking back on specific decisions.  We view the “rightness” of the criteria via the lens of being useful to make the best possible decisions today.  We believe the existing criteria are “right” and we are satisfied with them.  They could be changed but not made “righter” they will just be made different.  Again we express our concern that if unnamed stakeholders have provided the CoT feedback regarding the criteria we question their motives

We believe, as we have stated before, the criteria are a framework and submitters can choose to focus more or less on criteria they believe provide them the best opportunity to achieve their objections and we believe the panelist possess the freedom to accept the presented evidence or not.

We believe what is required is a rigorous process that enables willing participates to make submissions that present their cases and positions and desired outcomes to the best of their abilities, and that the decision makers are peers and able to make impartial and honest decisions based on the information they are provided.  We also believe the current process is sufficient to the task at hand and changes will not likely improve decisions or outcomes.

We state our satisfaction with the current set of criteria and recommend against changing any of the current criteria in any way, shape or form.  We believe the criteria have served the review panel process as well as could be expected and will continue to do so.

24.2)   Criteria with Guidelines

Picking up on a point we provided earlier, when in our Apprentice Ratio submission, we were somewhat challenged by the Review Panel for not providing sources of our data.  Our response to them then and it would be now, was where in any of the documentation provided us (i.e. submitters) was it identified that all sources of information had to be presented.  We take no ownership of this and fault the CoT or the group of Adjudicators for not communicating guidelines they deem important.

Guidelines were presented but unfortunately these guidelines were only focused on items like page limits, font sizes, etc. that while clerically helpful, do not necessarily help alleviate various potential problems.   We are somewhat unsure as to what these guidelines may include, but for instance if “expert opinion” is offered should the experts curriculum vitae be provided (and if required would that be part of a twenty-five page submission limit).

We are unsure as to what guidelines could be provided and be effective and not be considered pre-determinative of acceptable evidence but we expect that accumulated collection of expertise of the Chairs may be helpful in this regards.  Perhaps as an alternative the Chairs could publish a brief on their insights from the entire Review processes to date.

We recommend the CoT evaluate the potential for providing submission guidelines.

5.0 OLRB and the CoT

We are somewhat unsure as to the purpose of inclusion of this issue into this Review.  We understand there is some “topicality” to this issue given some recent enforcement actions by the CoT, but we suspect its resolution is more of a legal than an organizational matter.  We expect the legal resolution, if there is one in court, will be in favour of the CoT enforcement action.  We also fully expect the entities involved will attempt to construct an arrangement that best favours them, in face of a strong CoT position.  We suggest it better to wait resolution of that pending action before pondering alternative strategies, as that outcome will likely have a specific influence on any potential future CoT strategy in this regard.

We view any discussion of the OLRB and CoT and their potential differences with the basic perspective, that we understand:

  1. the work in any voluntary trade can be undertaken by any person in Ontario, without restriction by the CoT; consequently any ruling by the OLRB would not impinge on this fact or the authority of the CoT
  2. the work in any compulsory trade, as defined by their SoP, can only be legally undertaken by properly certified individuals who are also members of the CoT; consequently no ruling by the OLRB nor any individual, union, company1, etc. action can impinge on this fact or the authority of the CoT
  3. the CoT is trade focussed and indifferent to unionization status; it is simply irrelevant to their duty
  4. the CoT has an overarching duty to serve and protect the Public Interest; we are unsure whether this is a fundamental duty of OLRB or a specific aspect of their decisions
  5. a trades SoP is a legal description of the work of that trade, we are unsure as it relates to compulsory trades, whether or not this is a required element of evidence that the OLRB duly considers unless brought up by any party to any dispute; further only the CoT establishes SoP’s under the OCTAA
  6. we don’t expect that the CoT can, or would,  act in any way shape or form that contravenes the OCTAA
  7. we are also unsure as to what strategies and objectives participants in OLRB processes may have that may only have a secondary purpose to an SoP.

We fully expect that if CoT enforcement officers show up on any jobsite and determine any person is unlawfully doing the work of a compulsory trade, that the officers will act as required within their legal authority to stop and prevent such work from continuing and occurring in the future, irrespective of any OLRB decision, irrespective of any supposed historical practice and irrespective of any other private arrangements.

25) Do the SoPs in regulation reflect the ways in which work is actually assigned in your trade or sector?

Yes and we have discussed this earlier in responding to an earlier question.

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

We suggest that most jurisdictional disputes in voluntary trades arise primarily from new or emerging technologies, systems, services, etc.  There are also historical practice, etc. and other basis upon which disputes can and do occur.  Consequently from some perspective they may considered “peripheral”, but we have concerns regarding the use of the term peripheral is somewhat dismissive of the work’s current or potential importance.   As we identified above as it relates to voluntary trades, whether the dispute is related to core, peripheral, emerging, historic or some other work basis, as voluntary work has no restrictions, it is left to the OLRB arbitration process and specific parties to come to some reasonable determination, conclusion and ruling.

We also suggest that any work any organization is willing to engage the OLRB in a jurisdictional dispute, is likely by the very fact they engage the OLRB, not considered peripheral to the parties at hand.  For instance, in the glazing trade we consider stained glass work “peripheral” and likely would not engage the ORLB for any stained glass work issues, as it has no consequential economic impact.

With compulsory trades, if there are jurisdictional disputes, and as these trades are restricted we don’t subscribe to the notion of “peripheral”.  It may be work that is disputed but it is not “peripheral” and further the item of primary relevance is whether the work is restricted or not.  If the work is part of the compulsory trades SoP as written or logically implied then the issue of a jurisdictional dispute is moot and irrelevant.  If the work is not then some organization likely needs to first determine whether that work is part of a compulsory trade(s) SoP or not.  We believe only the CoT possesses that authority.

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 decisions what impact would that have on your trade and the way you conduct business?

We presented our perspective on core differences between the OLRB and CoT above.  We therefore conclude that the CoT should give no consideration to any OLRB decision regarding jurisdictional or work assignment disputes under the Labour Relations Act.

Where we do see a potential issue and problem is regarding new and emerging technologies, systems, services, etc. that may not be specifically or properly derived or extended from the current SoP.  We can think of a number of emerging technologies that may properly challenge conventional thinking on SoP’s, overlaps, compulsory vs. voluntary, etc.  However, it is up to the CoT to make determinations as to what work is part of a compulsory trade’s SoP.

We also suggest this, as we presented earlier, there is a difference in potential outcomes between Public Interest and various Private Interests.  The OLRB arbitrates between Private Interests (i.e. unions) where it assigns work and so likely chooses “winners” and “losers” in essentially a “zero sum game” framework for Private Interests.   The CoT has a primary concern with protecting the Public Interest, and a lesser concern, regarding protecting Private Interests.  The CoT can never subordinate Public Interest to Private Interest.

OLRB decisions may, if proponents and/or opponents so decide, may be used in the normal Review panel processes of the CoT, where a voluntary trade is attempting to change its trades classification.  However, this evidence would to us hold no more or less structural relevance to any CoT decision than any other evidence submitted.

While we would like to recommend an administrative co-operation between the OLRB and the CoT, and we do, but we are unsure given the specific nature and structure of the OLRB as to how this could happen.

We recommend that the CoT give no consideration to decisions made by the OLRB.




Footnotes

1) For instance, in the glazier trade it would be 8,000 documented hours and knowledge equal to what is inherent in the trades apprenticeship training standard.  Additionally, the CoT early on in its existence repurposed the concept in voluntary trades to enable self-claiming of journeyperson status.

2) We have a similar perspective on the exclusion of employers/sponsors but our discussion points are similar to that of journeypersons in voluntary trades.

3) We also expect, counter to CoT expectations, that apprentices who have become journeypersons since the CoT was created will give up their CoT membership.

4) We include the “glazing trade” as glaziers install product made elsewhere, so for instance if that material is deficient but installed correctly it is the failure of the “glazing trade” (which is a fuller “supply chain” concept) and perhaps not of the glazier.

5) We consider only legal acts in our consideration of being Private Interests, as clearly illegal acts are against the Public Interest.  Private Interests may also result in “net-costs” to other Private Interests, which is one of the basic tenents of competitive marketplaces.

6) This is a very important concept and issue.  In our opinion, the minority opinion in the Sprinkler Installer Review brought this directly into discussion.  The minority opinion to us was clearly expressing a preference of Private Interests being more important and consequential than Public Interests, and while we fundamentaly disagreed with that position in that specific Review, the debate is legitimate.

7) We were astonished to discover that at the Oct CoT BoG meeting the meeting started at 9:30 am and ended at 11:10 am.  We expect that given this apparent low level of workload apprentice issues could easily become a standing BoG agenda item.  As a comparable our glazier trade board meetings start at 8:30 am and typically end at 2:30 pm and typically include discussion of apprentice issues.  We also suggest that in our Kevin Whittaker report we cautioned about BoG member indifference.

8) There is no mandatory requirement, to our knowledge, that a person must be member of the CoT to serve on Trade Boards or Divisional Boards, etc.

9) We explicitly exclude any attempt at non-public, back-room influence that may or may not have occurred.

10) In our opinion the Tony Dean Review should have been initiated by the CoT and likely would have been had the CoT a proper process and framework in place.  In this instance (Tony Dean Review) the CoT may have determined on its own that the nature of the issues were best resolved with a fully independent review (Tony Dean Review).  We in fact don’t view the issues on the Tony Dean review as rising to the level of importance as requiring a government initiated review as these issues appear to us to be fully within the mandate, authority and responsibility of the CoT.  There are numerous risks in mis-prioritzing issues and in this instance while we view the nature of the Tony Dean Review issues as primarily operational, organizational, and leadership and governance, etc. we may get a political solution, which we would view as very unfortunate.

11) In fact, during the draft of the OCTAA apprentices were not part of the CoT.  We and many others successfully identified to the legislative committee in charge of the OCTAA the many and serious problems this would result in.  The final OCTAA had apprentices as part of the CoT.  Consequently, we were very concerned when suddenly, without public commentary, journeypersons in voluntary trades were no longer required members of the CoT.

12) We define apprentices as holding an RTA (with MTCU) and being a member of the CoT.  We understand that many employers suggest to their young employees that they are apprentices when, as they don’t meet the two tests, are not in fact apprentices.

13) Again one of the benefits of having a better role for apprentices in the CoT would be a presence into more advanced technologies.

14) Tony Dean summarizes this issue as” core elements are essential, more complex components of a trade and peripheral elements are the less essential, less complex, and non-hazardous functions of a trade.”

15) Assuming of course it is a Red Seal trade.

16) We understand there are many trades of very small size, with for instance less than 20 apprentices.  Trades generally require training programs, sponsors, exams, trade boards, etc. that do consume human and other resources to have, to maintain, to change, etc.

17) We highlight a number of our concerns about “stakeholders” supposedly providing the CoT valuable feedback (pg 20 of Tony Dean reference document).  We were never asked for our feedback, nor was the Glazier Trade Board, and so we conclude no formal public (which we consider the only appropriate request for feedback) was ever made and suggest this is further evidence of disconcerting influence being exerted on the CoT.

18) Two notes: we would have preferred to include membership in the CoT as a requirement to be a peer but can’t as the CoT made membership voluntary in voluntary trades and we exclude employer association representatives as employer peers unless these representatives actually employ journeypersons.

19) Again we suggest a significant problem lies with the failures of the CoT to specific Public Interest, etc..

20) One specific problem is that MTCU kept “apprentices” classed as “apprentices” until they received their CoQ, even though once an apprentice has completed their Contract of Apprenticeship they should not be classed as apprentices.  The CoT has recognized this distinction and now classes these workers as Journeyperson Candidates.  It was quite problematic for us, the industry, that we had/have no influence over MTCU in these matters.

21) For example, attraction of apprentices has, to us, an implied element of Public Interest.  For example, how the High School system promote the few compulsory trades over the many voluntary trades.

22) In fact it is illegal for any company (and likely any union or individual) to assign compulsory work to a non-certified person.