Students Oppose Government of Ontario's Attack on Apprenticeships and Skilled Trades, Health and Safety Rules

TORONTO, Feb. 27, 2017 /CNW/ - The Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario is speaking out against Bill 70, "budget measures omnibus legislation" proposed by the Wynne government. Students are outraged that this omnibus bill is being rushed through Queen's Park given how it will impact apprenticeships for skilled trades, and health and safety inspections in workplaces.

Schedule 17 of Bill 70 strips away regulatory powers currently held by the Ontario College of Trades, who set and oversee standards around which jobs require compulsory trades workers. Under Bill 70, the Minister of Labour will be empowered to interpret these regulations, which experts fear will undermine the number of qualified journeypersons on the job. Students seeking to be skilled trades apprentices do not want to be exploited as cheap labour, which will happen if the number of qualified journeypersons diminishes. Students want skilled trades apprenticeships that lead to well-paying jobs, and look to the College of Trades to ensure such options are available.  

Schedule 16 of Bill 70 amends Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act and will exempt some employers from unsolicited workplace inspections by Ministry of Labour (MOL) investigators. If Bill 70 is passed, investigators will only be dispatched if a complaint is lodged, setting a dangerous precedent, particularly for young workers. Given research on workplace injuries and fatalities, in Canada two workers die every day on the job, often from situations that could have been prevented with greater attention to health and safety. We need more MOL investigators on the job, not less.

"I'm concerned that the public doesn't know what's at stake, especially for young workers in skilled trades," said Rajean Hoilett, Chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario. "Young workers want good employment after putting in up to 10,000 hours in an apprenticeship program, and they want to be protected on the job. Bill 70 is a step in the wrong direction."

Students support the Progressive Certified Trades Coalition (PCTC), an alliance of union and employer groups, who is demanding Schedules 16 and 17 be pulled immediately from Bill 70. "We call on the Wynne Government to follow this advice, and not rush decisions that will impact the future employment for skilled trades workers," says Gayle McFadden, National Executive Representative of the Canadian Federation of Students- Ontario.  

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario unites more than 350,000 college and university students in all regions of the province.

SOURCE Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario

For further information: Rajean Hoilett, Chairperson, at 289-923-3534 (cellphone) or chair@cfsontario.ca; Gayle McFadden, Ontario National Executive Representative, at 416-885-5488 (cellphone) or national@cfsontario.ca; Alastair Woods, Media & Government Relations Coordinator, at 647-378-8942 (cellphone) or a.woods@cfsontario.ca.


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