Tony Dean completes review of the Ontario College of Trades
By Doug PicklykHPAC General Human Resources Management
Province behind recommendations to strengthen regulatory body.
Ontario, in partnership with the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT), has accepted the recommendations made by former Secretary of Cabinet Tony Dean, in his report, Supporting a Strong and Sustainable Ontario College of Trades, which was released November 20th. Ontario will bring forward proposed legislative changes in the spring legislative session and will work closely with OCOT to implement the recommendations.
Dean received 109 submissions and held meetings with over 300 individuals and organizations since being commissioned to create the report in October 2014.
The review’s 31 recommendations address four primary areas:
Scopes of Practice
Dean has recommended that there is a need to review and update trade scopes of practice – work that the College itself had already begun. Moving forward, the College would lead an review process that would include collaboration between trade boards and other stakeholders. These recommendations focus on a collaborative approach and no trade would be forced to change its scope.
The review process would provide an opportunity to clarify various functions of the College, including apprenticeship and certification, promotion of the trades, ratio reviews, and standards of practice. It would also provide an opportunity for trades to discuss and resolve issues of overlapping practice and resolve potential enforcement issues.
Trade Classification and Reclassification Reviews
The report recommends changes to ensure that the process to apply for trade re-classification is transparent, inclusive, evidence-based and driven by the public interest. The recommendation to use independent experts would ensure a strong and clear process that would yield lasting, credible decisions, while keeping the process external to government.
While more rigorous, this process would also be less rigid. For example, trades seeking a compulsory status would have the flexibility to select either specific features of their trade’s scope of practice, or their full scope for review by an independent expert panel. However, the requirement to train to the full scope of practice would always remain. This change does not imply “sub-trading” or the move to a “skill sets” model.
All trades that made applications prior to Dean’s review would maintain their place in the queue to apply for compulsory status under the new process. The status of existing compulsory trades would not be impacted by any changes to the classification review process.
OCOT has been successful in conducting ratio reviews. However, Dean suggests that there is an opportunity for improvement. These changes would bring greater consistency and confidence in an evidence-informed, transparent and inclusive process. One recommended change, for example, would allow review panels to request their own evidence and research to inform decisions.
Enforcement activities are a critical function of the College’s mandate and should be carried out consistently with safety and the public interest in mind. The College should work to prevent unlicensed workers from practicing compulsory trades and enforcement efforts should target high-risk activities and the underground economy.
Dean recommends that the College adopt a policy-based approach to enforcement that focuses on these objectives. He also recommends that the College’s Board of Governors establish a compliance and enforcement committee to inform this policy. Collaborative College work on trade scopes of practice driven by trade boards would also help to clarify the goals of enforcement activity.
A new appeal mechanism to the Ontario Labour Relations Board would also be established to address any future cases that arise in which College of Trades enforcement clashes with the Ontario Labour Relations Board jurisprudence and workplace-based agreements.
The College would have standing before the Ontario Labour Relations Board if an appeal were made and the Board would have regard to, among other things, the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act 2009 when making decisions.