This May, Ontario enacted Bill 288, also known as the Building Opportunities in the Skilled Trades Act, 2021.

The Act sets out provisions regarding the practice of trades in Ontario and apprenticeship training and certification, and provides for the continuation of the Ontario College of Trades under the name Skilled Trades Ontario.

The Act provides that trades may be prescribed for the purposes of the Act, and may be prescribed as compulsory trades. Prohibitions are specified relating to engaging in the practice of compulsory trades or the employment of persons to perform work or engage in the practice of compulsory trades.

Various types of certificates may be issued under the Act. Certificates of qualification may be issued in respect of trades for which a certifying examination is required. Certificates of apprenticeship may be issued to a person who successfully completes an apprenticeship program. If a certificate of apprenticeship is issued to a person in a trade for which a certifying examination is required, the person will also be issued a provisional certificate of qualification in the trade. The Act also sets out provisions relating to the refusal to issue certificates, the imposition of terms, conditions, and limitations on certificates, and the suspension and revocation of certificates.

The Act includes provisions regarding apprenticeship programs and registered training agreements and imposes certain requirements relating to the programs and agreements.

Inspectors may be appointed under the Act. Inspectors have various powers for the purposes of determining compliance with the Act and the regulations, registered training agreements, compliance orders, and other matters. An inspector may issue compliance orders and notices of contravention. A notice of contravention may be reviewed by the Ontario Labour Relations Board in accordance with the process set out in the Act.

The Ontario College of Trades is continued as a corporation without share capital under the name Skilled Trades Ontario. The Act includes various provisions relating to the administration and governance of the Corporation, including the powers and duties of the Registrar of the Corporation.

The Act provides for regulation-making powers on various matters, including on transitional matters arising from the implementation of the Act and the repeal of the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2009. Various other miscellaneous and related provisions are also included.

Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s minister of labour, training, and skills development, issued a statement following the passage of Bill 288, the Building Opportunities in the Skilled Trades Act, 2021, Wednesday, stating the apprenticeship system will be modernized in the province, helping “workers gain in-demand skills to lift them up and energize our economy for years to come.” As part of the act a new Crown agency called Skilled Trades Ontario will be created, replacing the Ontario College of Trades.

“The new agency will provide a seamless one-window experience for all services, including registration, issuance and renewal of certificates, and equivalency assessments, and will offer many services online,” the statement reads

The Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development will continue to play a role in the provinces apprenticeship system by providing system oversight and responsibility for regulatory decisions and financial supports. The Ministry will also be responsible for compliance and enforcement of the skilled trades.

Written by Jeremy Power, a lawyer in our Toronto office

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