Harris targets College of Trades at Elmira shop
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Harris targets College of Trades at Elmira shop

Michael Harris argued against the regulatory office at Elmira’s Tri-Mach Group on Wednesday. [Will Sloan / The Observer]

Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris called for the abolishment of the College of Trades in an appearance at Elmira’s Tri-Mach Group during his re-election campaign Wednesday.

Michael Harris argued against the regulatory office at Elmira’s Tri-Mach Group on Wednesday.[Will Sloan / The Observer]
Michael Harris argued against the regulatory office at Elmira’s Tri-Mach Group on Wednesday. [Will Sloan / The Observer]
The College of Trades was introduced in 2013 to regulate skilled trades, and enforces training and certification of employees. Harris slams the program as “another government bureaucracy introduced by the Liberal government,” and vowed that a Conservative government in Ontario would remove it.

The PCs argue that the present regulations limit the number of job opportunities in the trades: if carpentry becomes a compulsory trade, there will need to be four journeymen for every apprentice as a carpentry company, thus limiting the number who can become apprentices. Currently, 90 per cent of carpentry work is done by workers without certification.

“Once carpentry becomes a compulsory trade, hardworking men and women will have to obtain a licence to continue doing the job they’ve been doing for decades and thousands of young people will be shut out,” said Harris.

Harris also criticized the membership fee which is $60 for apprentices, tradespersons, and journeyperson candidates, $120 for journeypersons and employers/sponsors.

Michael Hahn, president of Tri-Mach, told reporters that he threatened legal action against College of Trades rulings.

“Tri-Mach has been in business for 29 years, and in 29 years have installed tens of millions of dollars worth of food processing equipment, and we’ve done so legally. … It was okay and perfectly legal to perform these job site actions for 29 years.”

Kitchener-Conestoga Liberal candidate Wayne Wright, however, says that stopping the program after just over a year would be acting before its value came into focus.

“A lot of professional bodies have a regulating authority: gas trades of the Technical Standards and Safety Authority; pharmacists have the Ontario College of Pharmacists. For a very long time, trades were completely self-regulated. The College of Trades was created to say, ‘We need somebody who is going to set standards, and it’s not going to just be set by the municipality,’” said Wright.

“The building that you’re standing in right now hasn’t fallen down right now because professional tradesmen built it, and we need to keep that regulation going so that our building standards and practices remain where they area.”

Harris says that such concern is without merit. “Mike’s been doing quality work for 29 years in this business; I think his customers will say to you that they are the best measure of ensuring quality work happens.”

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