Hon. Brad Duguid
Statement to the Legislative Assembly
Check Against Delivery

February 27, 2013

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Today, I would like to address one of the most significant initiatives undertaken in skilled trades in Ontario for generations – the new Ontario College of Trades.

Our government took the bold move to establish this new regulatory body – the first of its kind in North America – as a way of ensuring a strong future for the trades – a sector that is a key part of the foundation of our economy.

Today, I’m pleased to confirm that this April, the College of Trades will officially open its doors and begin accepting members.

Mr. Speaker, Ontario already has 44 similar regulatory bodies for other important sectors.

The College of Trades will help to ensure that when the people of Ontario need the services of tradespeople, they get the skilled, well-trained and accountable workers they expect and the quality services they deserve.

The College will provide an independent and neutral body for consumers to go to with a complaint if those services are not up to par.

If you believe in consumer protection, then you should be supportive of this new College of Trades.

The College will protect the people who work in those fields as well, from the illegal and often substandard work found in the underground economy.

We have a responsibility to protect the public, and a responsibility to protect our skilled tradespeople who are qualified and abide by the law.

To those opposed to the creation of a College of Trades I ask why you would so readily dismiss our responsibility to protect consumers and these important workers?

Why do Ontario’s skilled tradespeople not deserve the same respect as other professions like lawyers, teachers, accountants, doctors, nurses, foresters, real estate agents, social workers and architects who have similar bodies?

Mr. Speaker, the skilled trades are the backbone of Ontario’s economy. They are construction workers, who ensure that the buildings we live and work in are constructed properly.

They are auto mechanics who ensure that our cars are safe and able to protect our families on the roads.

They are electricians who provide us with the safe and reliable power we need in our homes and offices.

They are hairstylists and chefs who the public must have confidence in.

Ontario’s skilled tradespeople comprise dozens of occupations and thousands of workers that we all rely on every day to keep our economy strong.

That is why the College of Trades is so important.

Without these workers, our economy simply could not function.

The College of Trades will put decision-making power in the hands of those who do the work and know the business.

Those opposed would rather have that decision making power in the hands of lobbyists, politicians and bureaucrats. Our government disagrees.

The College gives a voice to all key players, including employers, employees, union, non-union, tradespersons, apprentices, journeypersons and the public.

These are the professionals who should decide what training and certification standards should be.

They are the ones who have a direct stake in the quality and credibility of their industry.

When the College begins taking members on April 8th, it will have enhanced enforcement capabilities that will ensure professionalism and high quality.

It will provide a public register to ensure that the tradespeople you hire are in good standing, so that you know when you hire a tradesperson, he or she is qualified to do the job.

It will provide a way for consumers to file complaints with a transparent process that can result in action being taken.

When the College is fully operational, it will help raise awareness of the career opportunities the trades provide. It will lift up the value and credibility of the trades as an attractive career option.

We need high school students to consider the trades first, not as a fall back to university or college, but as a career path they can be proud of.

We also need more women in the skilled trades. For too long we have ignored half our population who need the encouragement, opportunities and support to enter and thrive in the industry. The new College of Trades can do this.

Mr. Speaker, in 2007, we responded to concerns about the state of the skilled trades in Ontario.

We asked Tim Armstrong, a respected lawyer and former Deputy Minister with knowledge of the sector, to thoroughly examine skilled trades in Ontario.

He recommended the creation of a College of Trades, stating that it was crucial to the success of skilled trades in Ontario.

The sector applauded Mr. Armstrong’s report, and in particular the call for the College.

Mr. Speaker, recent criticism has called the registration fees to be collected by the College a “tax”. Mr. Speaker, let me be clear: not one cent of the registration fees collected by the College of Trades will go to the government.

The College’s membership fees, which are actually the lowest of any of the other 44 regulatory bodies in Ontario, will offer far more in return.

We need to stand behind Ontario’s skilled tradespeople and take politics out of it. We need to let this vital sector find its own voice, while protecting the public interest and growing our economy.

Mr. Speaker, the College of Trades represents a bold step forward for our province.

At the same, time let us be clear and realistic. This is a first. There will likely be growing pains.

So I call on all stakeholders and colleagues to be constructive and patient as the College of Trades emerges as a strong champion for this vital sector.

Our skilled tradespeople deserve the respect this College will bring them and they deserve the respect and support of all parties and all Ontarians.

Thank you.