Reader responds to Ontario Bill 70 controversy
By Peter Walker Clear Creek Windows
By Peter Walker Clear Creek Windows
I read with interest the article on the skilled trades workers protesting Bill 70 of the provincial government. The fight against this government initiative appears to be relying on hyperbole and scare tactics. Yet the initiative was required in part due to actions brought on by many skilled tradespersons. When the government set up the College of Trades, it turned over to the industry much of the power that the government had previously exercised itself in its attempt to do what was best for all Ontarians. Unfortunately, experience has proven that when one turns power over to a specific group, that group may choose to exercise that power to further its own best interests rather than the best interests of society as a whole.
I have 42 years of experience in the Kingston construction industry. About 50 per cent of my work has been as a carpenter on site. The other 50 per cent has been spent doing office or supervisory work in the industry. I began installing windows for customers in 1974, and have specialized in this work for the majority of my career. I currently do about 50 window installation contracts per year and work on the job site myself as the lead installer.
Two years ago, I listened to College of Trades members on two CBC radio programs — Ontario Morning and Ontario Today — tell the public how dangerous it was for the public to hire me to install their windows (not naming me personally of course) despite my 42 years of experience. They insisted that, for public safety, I must become “compulsory certified,” and furthermore that my 42 years of experience was irrelevant and I definitely should not be “grandfathered” — I must serve a full apprenticeship.
In other words, at 58 years of age I would have to lay off my employees, close my business and find some employer to take me on as an apprentice. Assuming I could find an employer willing to take on a 58-year-old apprentice, I would then have to learn how to build forms for things like apartment buildings and sewage treatment plants — work I have never done and never intend to do.
The training they insisted I needed does not include training in relative adhesions, elasticities, or dirt pickups of caulkings. It does not include training on co-efficients of thermal expansions of different window materials and how to handle the joints between these materials and your home. It does not include concepts like “UV bounce-back” (which, coincidentally, I was discussing with a supplier last week).
In the mid-1980s, I was falling behind on my work and hired a licensed, fully certified, journeyperson carpenter to help me catch up. He had just finished working building the forms for pouring concrete at a water treatment plant upgrade project.
To my horror, when I looked at the results of the first job I sent him to, it looked like “Pecky the Beaver” had hung the new door. That is when I realized that this fully trained and certified carpenter had only ever screwed premachined doors into premachined steel door frames. He had no idea how to really “install a door.” Yet, representatives of the College of Trades have been trying to tell homeowners they must hire people like him, because people like me do not know what we are doing.
In part, it was this sort of attempt by the College of Trades to force people like me out of the industry and out of jobs we have done for decades that made the government realize that an error had been made in drafting the original legislation. It realized that, by turning over control of “compulsory certification” and “ratios” to industry participants, those participants would then attempt to use that power to limit competition and to control access to the trades to fewer people, and hence be able to create scarcity and increase their own wages.
Bill 70 is meant to correct an error made when drafting the College of Trades legislation a few years ago.
Peter Walker operates Clear Creak Windows. He lives in Seeley’s Bay. This letter was originaly published in the Kingston Whig Standard on Dec. 14.