LATEST NEWS  Skills Training

January 11, 2012

Ontario College of Trades chair hopes ratios will be reviewed in first two years

Controversy has surrounded the Ontario College of Trades as it struggles to establish itself as North America’s largest self-regulatory body.

One of the biggest concerns has been around the College’s power over ratio reviews and compulsory certification.

The College was legislated in 2009 as a body to oversee the governance of the apprenticeship training system in Ontario, promote careers in the skilled trades and review compulsory certification and ratios. The entity was formed in response to one of the recommendations made in the 2008 Compulsory Certification Project Review by Tim Armstrong.

A Roster of Adjudicators is currently being selected by the College’s Appointments Council. During the process of any review, the Board of Governors will select one of the 30 adjudicators and the divisional board will pick two to form the selection panel.

Newly appointed Chair of the Board of Governors, Ron Johnson, Deputy Director of Interior Systems Contractors Association of Ontario and the Interior Finishing Systems Training Centre, said the Roster of Adjudicators will ensure a high degree of objectivity within the College.

“It’s very important that the Roster of Adjudicators is seen to be objective, is objective and is able to take in all the information from all of the stakeholder groups that are interested and to make a decision. To have any influence from the Board would be highly inappropriate.”

Ron Johnson, the new Chair of the Board of Governors of the Ontario College of Trades and Deputy Director of Interior Systems Contractors Association of Ontario and the Interior Finishing Systems Training Centre

Ron Johnson

Johnson said every individual who has an issue with a compulsory certification and ratio review application will have an opportunity to represent their arguments to the review panel.

“The goal is simply to review applications as they come forward in an open, public process and to give everybody an opportunity that has an interest to comment.”

He said there will be announcements regarding which trades are under review and there will be a process where people can present a written submission or can make an oral presentation to the review panel. The trades will be evaluated against a process and criteria arrived at during public consultations more than a year ago.

He hopes the 34 trades with ratios will be reviewed within the first two years of the College. The goal is to start the review process this spring, assuming the Roster of Adjudicators has been selected by the Appointments Council, he said. The aim was to have the Roster of Adjudicators selected by January.

Johnson believes this is a great opportunity for those who have issues with the current ratios.

“Over the last 20 years, has their lobbying paid off when they were dealing with government? The answer is clearly no. This now presents an opportunity for them to review the ratio, to engage in the process and to help us make a decision in terms of what that ratio is going to be,” he said.

“Their chances today of reform on ratios are far greater than they’ve ever been. Instead of being critical of the process, what they should do is embrace it, become an active part of the process and feed us as much information as they feel that they need to convince the independent panel of adjudicators that the ratios should be set in the way they feel.”

He doesn’t believe in the “cookie cutter” approach to setting ratios.

“There’s a lot of information that has to be absorbed in any decision made around the trades and it’s not as simple as saying that 1:1 ratio is going to create 200,000 new jobs. If it were only that easy, it’s really not.”

Many industry stakeholders have voiced that the College has not been transparent and Johnson agrees. He said the College wasn’t in a position to communicate with stakeholders, but it is now with the appointment of the governors board, Johnson as Chair and Bob Guthrie, the former Chief Executive Officer of the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission, as Registrar and Chief Executive Officer.

“In the absence of real, solid information, people will fill that void with misinformation and that is partly the College’s fault for not getting messages out early. Also it’s a product of the early growing pains of any new organization,” Johnson explained.

“I think we’ll see a significant turnaround in the overall view of the college in the coming months.”

See tomorrow’s DCN for the final article in this two-part Ontario College of Trades update .

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