Ontario plans 1:1 apprenticeship ratio and winding down OCoT

Peter Saunders
October 25, 2018
October 25, 2018 – Ontario’s government plans to cut some of the regulations affecting the province’s skilled trades and apprenticeship system and proposes to wind down the Ontario College of Trades (OCoT).

As part of its Making Ontario Open for Business Act, the government is taking steps to set all journeyperson-to-apprentice ratios at 1:1, implementing a moratorium on trade classifications and reclassifications and looking at ways to promote the skilled trades throughout Ontario.

Currently, Ontario’s ratios are among the highest in Canada, restricting the number of apprentices employers can train relative to the number of journeypersons they employ.

“This new bill will see hundreds, if not thousands, of young Ontarians start working in the skilled trades in the near future,” says Stephen Sell, president of the Ontario Electrical League (OEL), which welcomed the announcement this week. “There is a huge demand for new electricians. This bill allows our members to hire young Ontarians and train them for rewarding and well-paid careers.”

Unifor, a Canadian private-sector union representing more than 50,000 skilled trades workers and apprentices, calls the 1:1 ratio “dangerously high” and suggests it “would dramatically decrease the time spent receiving training and could lead to apprentices working alone without any support from a journeyperson.”

"Companies in the electrical trade are already at 1:1 until the ninth employee is hired," says James Barry, executive chair of the IBEW Construction Council of Ontario (CCO), "but the far greater issue is ratios remain meaningless until someone enforces them and they are site-specific, as opposed to company-wide. We hope this government will do what wasn’t done in the past and make those who don’t follow the rules accountable. As far as we are aware, no company was ever charged by the college of trades for not abiding by ratios, yet we know they were violated on a regular basis."

The government intends to develop a replacement model for the OCoT’s regulation of skilled trades and apprenticeships by early 2019, as part of a commitment to reduce what it says are “unnecessary regulatory burdens.” Established in 2009, the college provides training, support and oversight.

“Skilled trades workers fought hard for the establishment of the OCoT to ensure high-quality workmanship,” says Naureen Rizvi, Unifor’s regional director for Ontario. “Apprentices need reliable training and a united, independent OCoT to maintain safety and excellence.”

"The original intent of the college--to promote skilled trades, protect the public and provide self-regulation--was a good one," says IBEW CCO's Barry. "Unfortunately, it was mired in politics from the moment it launched and was unable to achieve its mandate."

Finally, the government is placing its moratorium on trade classifications and reclassifications to mitigate the risks of what it calls an “overly burdensome” system and increasing costs for businesses.

The new bill and related regulatory changes were announced on Oct. 23 and still need to be passed by the provincial legislature.

“As an action item, we are encouraging all OEL members to reach out to their local Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) and urge them to grant speedy passage to this important new law,” says Sell.

“Moving forward, it will be important for the Ontario government to work with all stakeholders, including groups like the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), to ensure proper mechanisms are in place to prevent anyone from doing dangerous electrical work without the proper training and certification,” says John Grimshaw, executive secretary treasurer for IBEW CCO.


+1 #3 Ken 2018-11-25 11:15
I receive dozens of resumes every month from people who want to get into the electrical trade. A lot of them have taken college courses, some are merely looking for a good future in the electrical trade while others are just looking for a job. Unfortunately, we cannot hire any of them because of the 1:1 ratio. With the demand for skilled electricians, can we not simply relax the ratio to two apprentices for every journeyman? We are constantly turning away several talented prospects that could be filling the ever growing void for future journeyman electricians.
0 #2 crow 2018-11-03 08:04
When are we in Ontario and the rest of Canada going to get it !!!! Have been in the Electrical Trade for over Thirty Years! Everyone was complaining then there were not enough Skilled Tradesmen, or Tradeswomen. European countries have had Apprenticeship Models in place for Hundreds of Years!! Why can't we Build our own with those Model's as references?? The other problem if Safety is considered, is that in the Electrical Field, Property Owners are still able to initiate an ESA Permit to do their own Electrical Work!!! That item alone undermines Not only Safety but also the amount of work available for Electrical Contractors and their Apprentices How many Generations will it take to get it right. A good place to start, is immediate Trade courses at the High School Level. Give students a choice and a chance to make an Educated Decision regarding the Future of this Province and our Country!!
+2 #1 Rene 2018-11-01 18:47
The corporations in Ontario have been lobbying hard and making plenty of political contributions to forward their agenda. That agenda is not new. Corporations have worked against trades for more than a hundred years, to water down and diminish trades and their collect power. Corporations want cheap labor, cheap skilled labor. I will put the corporations on notice now, you will NOT get your cheap skilled labor. Youth today have too many options and are educated by the internet. They will not waste their time in a steep skilled trade learning curve, followed by dangerous and hard work, so that you can pay them like a bag boy at the grocery store. By the way, I am an electrician, son of an electrician, and grandson of an electrician. And I sent my son to University to be anything but an electrician.

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