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October 31, 2012

Voluntary trades require trades college membership

Once the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) is fully functioning, a worker in a voluntary trade will have to be a member of the college to keep his or her Certificate of Qualification (C of Q) current.

“It’s the same thing as a membership in the College,” explained Bob Guthrie, chief executive officer and registrar of OCOT, during a workshop at the 55th annual convention of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario.

All apprentices will have to be members of OCOT as will journeypersons in the 22 compulsory trades in Ontario.

“To get your C of Q you have to be a member of the college of trades. Once you’ve got it, in a voluntary trade, you can opt out if you choose not to renew your C of Q,” he said.

There are potentially 500,000 members in the province and Guthrie expects apprentices and workers in compulsory trades will make up about half of that.

Once fully operational, the college will represent 157 skilled trades in the construction, motive power, industrial and service sectors.

Once sections of the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2009 are proclaimed, a C of Q will be equivalent to a membership at the College, said Guthrie.

“You’re entitled to [a C of Q], but what we’ll say is if it’s not current...it’s not valid. You do not have the right to call yourself a journeyperson carpenter, you have the right to work in the trade, but every regulatory organization has right to title,” he said, using the voluntary trade of carpenter as an example.

Guthrie acknowledged that people who have been working in their voluntary trade for many years probably will not become a member of the college.

“We’re not going to find them and take that piece of paper away. We’re just going to say that if you want to say that you have a current C of Q as a carpenter or anything else at the College of Trades...you must be a current member of good standing at the college and pay the fee.”

Guthrie unofficially announced that membership fees for journeypersons is going to be $120 a year, apprentices will pay $60 per year. OCOT’s annual fees will replace the licensing fees currently paid every three years for most compulsory trades.

He also said that the new deadline to begin accepting membership is Apr. 8, 2013, pushed back from the original target date of Jan. 1, 2013.

The goal is to show voluntary trades members the value that the college will bring.

“There’s no politicians, there’s no bureaucrats...it’s populated by tradespeople like yourselves that ultimately have an interest in the outcomes of the decisions that are made,” said Ron Johnson, chair of OCOT’s Board of Governors and deputy director of the Interior Systems Contractors Association of Ontario.

Johnson made an address on the first official day of the Building Trades convention.

“That’s a really important distinction from the past when it was always a government bureaucrat that was making a decision on your behalf. And now you’re in the position to make those decisions yourself.”

Guthrie does not expect that the current prorogation of the Ontario legislature to affect OCOT’s progress.

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