TORONTO, May 28, 2014 /CNW/ - Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak cannot win the current Ontario election by misleading the public about the Ontario College of Trades, Unifor National President Jerry Dias says.
"The College of Trades is good for the trades. The decisions affecting the skilled trades are being made by the trades for the trades, and not by politicians like Tim Hudak," Dias said.
"It's about time the Conservatives quit bashing the college and rather embraced the structure and worked with all the stakeholders to make it a successful body," he said.
The college was set up in 2009. Previously, trade certification in the province was handled by the provincial government.
The majority of trades in Ontario are voluntary. Out of 156 trade classifications in Ontario, only 22 are compulsory. These tend to be jobs where safety requires a skilled person do the work - such as wiring a home for electricity, fixing a car or installing fire prevention sprinklers.
"These are jobs where you want someone with a certificate to prove they can do the job safely," said John Breslin, Unifor Skilled Trades Director.
Hairdressing as a compulsory trade actually predates the college, having been compulsory since 1944, he said.
Breslin said journeyperson to apprenticeship ratios are not a barrier for entry into the skilled trades. The unionized sector invests millions each year to provide apprenticeship training in both the voluntary and compulsory trades, where the non-union sector invests nothing - and yet complains to Hudak that they cannot create any jobs because of ratios.
"Lowering ratios would allow employers to reduce their costs and the quality of workmanship by laying off 200,000 skilled journeypersons and replacing them with low cost, lower-skilled apprentices, all at the expense of public safety," Breslin said.
The college is funded by membership fees from the compulsory trades, meaning there is no cost to the taxpayer, unlike the previous structure when the provincial government handled skilled trade issues, Dias said.
"We do not need the skilled trades being part of the government bureaucracy of the past, where decisions were not made out of political expediency and not always in the best interest of skilled trades, apprentices or the public," he said.
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers, including more than 40,000 in skilled trades. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.
For further information:
please contact Unifor Communications Skilled Trade Director [email protected] or (cell) 416-316-0926, or Unifor Communications National Representative Stuart Laidlaw at [email protected] or (cell) 647-385-4054.