The building trades are taking action to let people know that forming the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) is an important and progressive step for the province’s construction industry.

A resolution passed at a meeting of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario on Oct. 20 states a committee will be formed to offset the lobbying efforts of an 18-member group that calls itself the Ontario Construction Employers’ Coalition.

The Coalition is attempting to get the College shut down before it even gets off the ground.

Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher put forward the resolution on behalf of the Operating Engineers.

The resolution was seconded by Local 793 treasurer Alex Law and was unanimously supported by delegates at the meeting.

The resolution states that the committee will be formed “for the purposes of developing and implementing effective strategies targeted at the Ontario Construction Employers’ Coalition in order to counteract and neutralize the lobbying efforts of the Coalition.”

The OCOT will be the first self-regulatory body for the trades in Canada, and will be responsible for leading the modernization of the apprenticeship and skilled trades system in Ontario, putting skilled trades on a similar professional footing with teachers, doctors and nurses.

The OCOT will be funded through membership fees and regulate and promote the skilled trades.

The Ontario Construction Employers’ Coalition has claimed that the OCOT will increase bureaucracy along with taxes, and that apprenticeship ratios will limit the entry of young people into the trades.

However, Local 793’s two-page resolution states that the claims made by the Coalition are false and the OCOT will ensure that Ontario’s trades and apprentices benefit from the highest standards in the areas of regulation, safety, education and certification.

In a presentation to the building trades on Oct. 19, Ron Johnson, chair of the OCOT’s board of governors, said the College is one of the best initiatives that the Liberal government has come up with.

He told delegates there’s a lot of misinformation circulating about the OCOT, one being that it’s driven by unions, but the governing board has equal representation from both the union and non-unionized sectors.

Patrick Dillon, business manager of the provincial building trades council, said it’s going to be up to the trades to make the OCOT a success.

“To me this is a real golden opportunity for tradespeople in this province to rise and really have something that they can be proud of.”