Special to the Barrie Construction Association Annual Report
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit many businesses in the Barrie community. Many small to medium sized business owners indicated that they have been unable to recruit enough skilled workers to fill vacancies, and are forced to take their business elsewhere or import labour. This is the start of an alarming trend. The Ministry of Finance predicts a million skilled labour job vacancies by 2021. Under the current system, the Liberal Government produces 46 per cent fewer skilled trades people per capita than the rest of Canada.
Despite the apparent need to make Ontario more competitive in the trades, the provincial Liberal Government’s idea of reform is the establishment of another bureaucracy funded by a mandatory, new tax for tradespeople—the Ontario College of Trades.
The original mandate of the college of trades was to promote the trades and it was funded directly by the government. As of next year, the college of trades intends to charge substantial fees to its compulsory membership to sustain an expanded mandate. The college of trades will be able to dictate apprenticeship ratios; which trades must become members; and membership fees.
Next year, tradespeople, employers and consumers will find life more expensive. Membership fees will net the college of trades $84 million in its first year alone. Certain trades will see fees skyrocket by a 1,000 per cent. The Ontario Electrical League says these fees amount to an enormous unjustified cost and see no value in them.
This trades tax will cost tradespeople more to do their jobs and employers more to create jobs. It’s a job killer, plain and simple.
I have warned many of the local businesses that are involved in skilled trades work that the college of trades will inevitably affect all business and that they shouldn’t expect to have a say in the process. Tradespeople have no influence over who sits on the board of directors prompting industry to aptly call the college of trades ‘taxation without representation’.
That is why I am committed to getting the message out so the public and the industry can be empowered to have their say on the Ontario College of Trades. To learn more about how to get involved to stop the trades tax before it’s too late, call my office at 705-726-5538.
Rod Jackson, MPP