- The Ministry of Labour has taken over the enforcement duties of the College of Trades but has not hired any of the existing staff.
Inspectors in the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT), the agency that licenses tradespeople such as electricians, plumbers, auto mechanics, and hairstylists, received layoff notices last week. The Ford government is dissolving the agency, but all of its responsibilities remain.
Its inspection role is being transferred to the Ministry of Labour, and its apprenticeship work is being transferred to a new body called Skilled Trades Ontario.
Despite the continuation of their duties and even though most OCOT managers and staff will remain on the provincial payroll with Skilled Trades Ontario the 30-plus inspectors will be out of work by February.
“Doug Ford said that no one would lose their jobs,” said Terry Dorgan, an inspector who has been with the company since 2013. “We had faith in him.” During the 2018 election campaign, Ford repeatedly stated that no public sector workers would be laid off under his administration, including during one of the televised leader’s debates.
Then, in 2019, Ford and his ministers began to change their tune, claiming that no “front-line workers” would be laid off. “When [Ford] said he was winding down the college and replacing it with something better, we were promised we wouldn’t lose our jobs in 2018,” Dorgan said in an interview from his home near Peterborough, Ont.
He doesn’t understand why he and the other inspectors weren’t simply transferred to the Ministry of Labour, given that the ministry is now in charge of enforcing credentials in Ontario’s 23 licensed trades.
Instead, the ministry recently went on a hiring spree for new inspectors, excluding “people who have the knowledge and skills and have been doing this function for ten years,” according to Dorgan. According to a spokesperson for Labour, Training, and Skills Development Minister Monte McNaughton, ministry inspectors must have the skills and knowledge to enforce a broader range of workplace legislation than OCOT inspectors, such as employment standards and occupational health and safety.
“Our ministry hires the best candidates for the positions we have open,” McNaughton’s press secretary Harry Godfrey said in a statement that also called the College of Trades a failure. The laid-off workers are represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).
Source: CBC News