Disharmony on the trades bandwagon.

When the McGuinty Liberals decided to do something about trades training and standards in Ontario, we wished them ‘Good luck.’ There are some 190 skilled trades that initially need support on behalf of Ontario trades people, employers and consumers. To do the job properly will take time, good will and input from all levels of the trades. What it does not need as it travels down the road is to be run over by other levels of government and to be waylaid by mean-spirited political parties spreading dissention.

The first question asked last week when the federal Conservatives announced their budget was how the proposed federal trades plan would work with the Ontario program. You would assume in a normal country that the federal government would discuss such a plan with the provinces. It was when Quebec angrily told Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to blow his new program in his ear that you got a hint that preplanning is not part of the Conservative strategy. And it is obvious that Ontario has absolutely no idea how to fit the federal plan in with its approach. (Nor do the feds appear to want them to!)

And to make matters worse, the provincial Conservatives in Ontario have their own strategy. Here in Babel, we see the MPP from Orillia and the junior MPP from Barrie signing petitions to stop the purported trades tax. They seem to be opposed to the Ontario Trades College. Since the college has yet to do anything, the Ontario Conservatives are busy saying that anything they do will be bad for Ontario. They are building a bogeyman.

The Conservatives insist, up front, that the majority of Ontario trades people do not want to be members of the Ontario Trades College. The only questions that come to mind are whether the trades people have evaluated the benefits of membership and do they know anything about it? Mind you, if the College proponents have announced a fee structure before deciding what they will do for it, they will deserve all the slander they get.

The most interesting aspect of the Conservative vilification campaign is the threat that the College is going to bar your favourite handyman from building your backyard deck while putting new tile in your bathroom. They are shedding crocodile tears for the famous jack of all trades. Frankly that guy used to be called a ‘homeowner’ and it is about time someone saved him from himself.

What it boils down to is the cost of home renovations. Nobody is going to stop you from hiring the kid from down the street to paint your house. You will get what you pay for. And if you want something that says the tradesperson is qualified for the job, you are going to pay more. And it is most often worth it.

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Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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