Chamber of Commerce Welcomes Proposed Apprenticeship Changes

Chamber of Commerce

Charla Robinson
Charla Robinson

THUNDER BAY – BUSINESS – The Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce is welcoming the announcement of proposed changes to Ontario’s apprenticeship system that will reduce current requirements to a single one-to-one journeyperson to apprentice ratio and the repeal of many of the burdensome items in Bill 148.

“For many years, Ontario’s apprentice ratio system has put a limitation on our ability to train the skilled trades journeypersons we need to build our future workforce.  This is a welcome change that will help to address our growing staff shortages in the trades,” says Charla Robinson, President of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce. “In addition, the steps proposed to build labour legislation that is both reasonable for employers and fair to workers will be well-received by the hundreds of small businesses in Thunder Bay that have been struggling to adjust to the massive changes and costs imposed by Bill 148.”

Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act 2017

Our Chamber position has been clear from the beginning: Bill 148 was too much, too fast. We are just beginning to realize some of the unintended consequences of this legislation and the impact on both employers and employees.  Our members have made clear the compounding effects of Bill 148, including the need to decrease product offerings and increase the price of products being sold, hire fewer employees, reduce services and hours of operation, cut back on employee benefits, increase their reliance on automation, and halt capital investment – all in an effort to stay afloat. This is not good for economic growth or for the workers Bill 148 was purported to aid.

Apprenticeship System

The economic growth, competitiveness and prosperity of rural communities and small urban centres has been hindered by Ontario’s complex ratio system that limits the number of apprentices that can be hired by an employer.  This proposed change to a one-to-one journeyperson to apprentice ratio is positive step that will provide more opportunities for apprentices to be hired and trained while reducing costs for businesses.  The government is also proposing to wind down the Ontario College of Trades and develop a replacement model for the regulation of the skilled trades and apprenticeship system in Ontario by early 2019.