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Trades Tax Must be Stopped

(April 8, 2013) Ontarians will soon be paying more for everything from a haircut to hiring a plumber or getting a car fixed due to a new tax on trades. The new 'trades tax', which was implemented by the Kathleen Wynne Liberal government and comes into effect today (April 8th), is expected to cost tradespersons millions in what the Liberals term a 'membership fee' to pay for yet another wasteful layer of bureaucracy called "The College of Trades".

The new fees are a smack in the face to local tradespersons and employers who as a result of the new tax are required to pay six times more for the same membership. And, they will also have a similar negative implication for consumers who will experience the passed on costs.

Most frustrating, however, is that the implementation of new tax grab is being mandated so the College of Trades, which is nothing more than an extra layer of bureaucracy, can increase costs and needlessly make the trades more difficult to work in.

Just ask Sean Reid, Chair of the Ontario Construction Employers Coalitionwho has been a strong advocate against the new tax. "We believe the Ontario College of Trades will tax people out of the skilled trades, and drive up costs for consumers at every turn."

Or, consider the recent missive from Katherine Van Leeuwen, Vice President of the Barrie Construction Association. "We've seen little or no evidence that this trades tax will have any benefit. It will drive up construction costs in Barrie, feed the underground economy and drive people away from skilled trades. We joined the campaign because we can't afford to let that happen."

Or, take into account recent remarks by Krista Walcroft, owner of Collingwood Toyota. "As an employer of licensed automotive technicians & apprentices, I am not clear on the benefits of this new college. It is becoming more expensive to be a skilled tradesperson, [but] there is no clear explanation why the increase in fees and no indication of what they will receive in return for paying a lot more financially and frequently."

If this still isn't enough blow-back to the College of Trades, just look at how some of the same reforms are impacting Quebec.

The Ontario College of Trades will move Ontario toward a Quebec construction model that is fraught with over-regulation, high journeyman to apprenticeship ratios and broad-based compulsory trade certification. Quebec economist Pierre Fortin estimates that the Quebec model has resulted in a 10.5 percent increase in overall building costs, which equates to an annual tab of $3.4 billion and the loss of 52,000 jobs.

We can't afford to accept this fate.

The College of Trades is nothing more than a Liberal created oversight body that is imposing a new tax through a mandatory membership fee; and, unlike a real College, is not governed by a democratic vote. In fact, its governing body is appointed by the Liberals, and, not surprisingly, is dominated by people who have made significant financial contributions to the Ontario Liberal Party.

At a time when Ontario is burdened by a skilled labour shortage,we can't afford to be forcing more tradespersons out of work. The trades tax has to be stopped, and the Ontario PCs are committed to the fight. The PCs would scrap the tax along with the College of Trades. In fact, I recently signed a pledge at Collingwood Toyota to do just that.

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