Bring back Ontario apprenticeship branch - OPSEU | National Union of Public and General Employees

Bring back Ontario apprenticeship branch - OPSEU

Presentation by Warren (Smokey) Thomas to Ontario's standing committee on justice policy.

Toronto (1 Oct. 2009) - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) is calling on the Ontario government to re-establish an apprenticeship branch within the provincial ministry of training, colleges and universities.

“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,” says OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

The recommendation was made by Thomas in a presentation on Bill 183 to the Ontario legislatures standing committee on justice policy. The bill deals primarily with the establishment of a new College of Trades while revising and modernizing existing laws related to apprenticeship training and trade qualifications.

Thomas, who expects the bill to affect "a considerable number" of OPSEU members, covered five main themes in his presentation to the committee:

  • Ontario Public Service (OPS) and successor rights.
  • The importance of quality public education and the leading role that community colleges should play in providing the "in-school portion" of apprenticeship training.
  • Limiting membership in the College of Trades to certified journey persons and registered apprentices - "only in the compulsory trades."
  • Shifting the focus from the discipline of enforcement (two thirds of Bill 183 as drafted is devoted to disciplinary procedures) to a greater emphasis on bylaws and regulations to make the apprenticeship system better.
  • Issues related to the governance of the college to ensure greater accountability and proper representation from all constituent groups.

Thomas also said everyone hired under Bill 183 "as employees of a trades governance structure" should become full OPS members with "full successor rights, seniority and pension benefits."

"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,” he added.

The full text of OPSEU's submission is available at the link below.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

More information:
OPSEU Submission to the Standing Committee on Justice Policy, Legislative Assembly of Ontario - pdf

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