OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas presented OPSEU’s position on Bill 183 on Sept. 24, 2009 to the Standing Committee on Justice Policy at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. The Bill primarily deals with the establishment of a new College of Trades, as well as to revise and modernize the existing laws related to apprenticeship training and trade qualifications.
With the anticipation that this new Bill will affect a considerable number of OPSEU members, President Thomas covered five relevant themes in his presentation, pertaining to Bill 183:
- Ontario Public Service and Successor Rights
- The importance of quality public education, and the community colleges being the best avenue for the in school portion of apprenticeship training
- Membership of the College of Trades be given to certified journeypersons and registered apprentices, only in the compulsory trades
- The much required shift from discipline to enforcement; given that is it stands now, two-thirds of Bill 183 is devoted to disciplinary procedures while lacking the by-laws and regulations that could make the apprenticeship system better
- And finally, the issues around Governance of the College; how it requires more accountability and proper representation from all constituent groups
President Thomas also urged the government to re-establish the Apprenticeship Branch of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU). He said, “A revitalized Apprenticeship Branch with a renewed mandate would be able to focus on ensuring that Ontario’s apprenticeship system would be a leading example of quality and accountability.”
President Thomas strongly recommended that, given the fact that Bill 183 (Section 64) retains Ministerial responsibility for apprenticeship, that there be no reduction in either the current number of positions, or hours worked to administer and enforce apprenticeship agreements and training requirements. He stated, “All employees hired under Bill 183 as employees of a trades governance structure be considered OPS members with full successor rights, seniority, and pension benefits as those currently working on apprenticeship and other relevant departments within the MTCU.”
In conclusion, President Thomas stated, “it is unfortunate that Bill 183 fails to address the Mike Harris legacy of the Apprenticeship and Certification Act (ACA), and offers a model that appears far too complicated to enhance the implementation of decisions, and far too oriented on disciplining trades workers to be effective.”
Click here to download the entire Submission.
For more information on Bill 183, please go to http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/tcu/collegeoftrades/