New proposed agency would streamline the province’s skilled trades system

plumber File photo

The Ontario government is introducing new measures to help tradespeople get their certification from one reliable, streamlined destination.

The new Crown agency, Skilled Trades Ontario, that has been proposed in new legislation would replace the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT).

Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, introduced the legislation earlier this week. It is designed to make the province’s skilled trades and apprenticeship system more efficient, accessible, and easier to navigate.

“We heard loud and clear from apprentices, journeypersons and employers alike that OCOT is not working,” said Minister McNaughton.

“Following our expert panel’s recommendations, we are taking a thoughtful and measured approach by launching Skilled Trades Ontario, a new agency that will put the trades first.”

Skilled Trades Ontario would become the province’s industry-informed training authority to lead the promotion, research and development of the latest apprenticeship training and curriculum standards. It will also provide a seamless one window experience for client-facing services including apprentice registration, issuance of certificates and renewals, and conduct equivalency assessments all in one place with many services offered digitally.

“Skilled trades workers are the engine of our economy,” said Minister McNaughton. “Under the current system, responsibilities are shared between OCOT and the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, causing confusion and added burden for people wanting to pursue a career in the skilled trades, which leads to employers struggling to find qualified skilled trades workers.  That is why our government is building a skilled trades system that attracts more people into well-paying and meaningful careers that are truly life-changing.”

Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West commented that “a new streamlined skilled trades system will benefit both workers and job creators in Niagara.”

As recommended by the Skilled Trades Panel’s first report, Ontario will streamline and simplify the apprenticeship system by establishing a new Crown agency. The Ministry will provide system oversight and be responsible for regulatory decisions, financial supports and take on responsibility for compliance and enforcement of the skilled trades, building on existing expertise, best practices and an inspector network that is already in place across the province.