Premier Doug Ford is under constant attack from critics for what they see as mindless cuts to areas such as education and health care, programs concerning autism being one of his main targets.
I tend to agree that, although it is indeed necessary to bring government spending under control, that Ford doesn’t seem to give much thought as to the harm his cuts will create before pulling the trigger.
However, having said that, there is one cut that he has proposed with which I certainly agree – the dismantling of the Ontario College of Trades, a non-governmental body that was established in April 2013 by the previous Liberal government.
The idea, it seemed at the time, was to bring the trades into a closer alignment with professionals, such as doctors, nurses and teachers, who had their own colleges of oversight and discipline.
I saw it as unnecessary at the time and still believe so and was glad to see the new Progressive Conservative government address it in Bill 47, which was introduced in October of last year as the Making Ontario Open for Business Act.
There are complaints in some quarters about the college’s demise but I still can’t buy it.
One of the selling points at the time was that it would give the public an opportunity to have their complaints heard by an impartial body. The plan was to create a “public register to ensure public confidence in the qualifications of its members, receive and investigate complaints against its members and discipline members as required.”
Not that anyone in the public or the trades had asked for this.
To provide this access, those in the trades who had previously paid $60 plus HST every three years in licensing fees, now saw this jumped to $120 plus HST annually, $60 for apprentices.
The college said at the time it also would perform a range of services for its members, including:
Giving opportunities for members to provide input on key issues affecting their trades;
promoting the skilled trades as a career of choice; setting up consultative, transparent and fair processes for tradespeople and employers to make submissions to recommend changes for a trade (e.g. journeyman-to-apprentice ratio review, trade classification reviews); setting up apprenticeship programs, training standards and scopes of practice for each trade.
In other words, as I said in a column shortly after the college began operating, except for the complaint and disciplinary process, pretty well everything that could be done under what already existed.
As far as I was concerned, all this did was set up another level of bureaucracy which ate into the pockets of trades people and the wallets of taxpayers, the kind of thing that eventually cost the Liberals dearly in the last provincial election.
“Our view of the college of trades is it is an experiment that really failed to deliver on the most core mandate it had. And that was to grow the number of apprentices in Ontario,” Sean Reid, the Ontario regional director for the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada, was quoted as saying last fall..
“In many ways it was doomed to failure from the start because it really wasn’t speaking for the lion’s share of the skilled trades sector.”
Don Gosen, chair of the board of the college, admitted the college was a hard sell.
“We never got complete buy in from all of our members. And that is maybe an area where we haven’t succeeded to the extent that we should have,” he said.
“Among other things, the college of trades was our opportunity to step up and see skilled trades as professionals at the same level as other careers”
Questions have been raised about what will happen to licensing and enforcement of the trades, as well as a $20 million dollar reserve fund that accrued through the licensing fees..
But the province says getting rid of the college is simply about cutting red tape and getting more people into skilled trades.
I think on this one I will go with the province.
But it will be interesting to see if it cuts the cost of licensing back to what it once was or if it will let the fees stand, putting them into whatever new endeavour replaces the ill-fated college.
And it will also be interesting to see if Ford gets rid of the ridiculous rule that says for a person to become a barber, that person is also required to complete hairstylists training.
The Liberals posed the question in 2014 whether it was thought that the two should stand on their own, as once had been the case. However, if the question was indeed answered no results were ever posted.
You have to wonder about the thought processes of bureaucrats or politicians who would come up with the idea that barbers would also have to be hair stylists.
But then we have Ford and U.S. President Donald Trump so I guess anything is possible.
IF YOU BUY a pop and a small coffee from McDonald’ you will pay $2.30, $1 for the pop (all pop is $1 for the summer plus five cents HST) and $1.25 for the coffee.
But if you buy a pop alone, you pay $1.13 ($1.15 rounded off).
The provincial portion of the HST, 8%, is not charged, or is not supposed to be charged, on food from a confectionary that costs under $4 However, the federal charge (5%) does apply.
Probably because the till’s computer has not been programmed properly, the provincial tax is being charged for a pop at McDonald’s along with the federal tax.
I pointed this discrepancy out to one of the managers but was told they didn’t have anything to do with the charges or how the till’s computer was set up
It was not my intent that anything would be done here. My thought was that the manager would pass on what was happening to those who could do something about it.
The extra charge is not much.
But it is not right and I thought the corporation might want to know about it.