Unifor leaders say Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s plan to scrap the Ontario College of Trades could erode quality and harm skilled trades workers.

“Skilled trades workers fought hard for the establishment of the Ontario College of Trades - to ensure high-quality workmanship that Ontarians can rely on,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director.

Rizvi says apprentices in the trades need reliable training to support their learning, and a united, independent OCOT to maintain safety and excellence in Ontario’s skilled trades.

The Ontario College of Trades was established in 2009 to administer skilled trades apprenticeships, ensure high-quality work, and enforce licencing requirements.

Unifor says the government has failed to state what that OCOT would be replaced by, and in the legislation, is threatening removal of quality and training by downgrading a number of trades from highly skilled categories to craft trades. 

“The Ontario College of Trades is the amalgamation of years of advocacy and planning by skilled tradespeople of this province,” said Dave Cassidy, Unifor national skilled trades chairperson.

“The training, support and oversight of the College are mandatory to ensuring public safety and the future of excellence in Ontario trades.”

In addition to proposing the elimination of the OCOT, Unifor says the government proposed dangerously high one-to-one ratios in apprenticeship programs.

In practice, the union says this would dramatically decrease the time spent receiving training and could lead to apprentices working alone without any support from a journeyperson.