Yesterday, Christine Elliott, Ontario Progressive Conservative Deputy Leader and MPP for Whitby-Oshawa, signed a pledge to Stop the Trades Tax at Owasco Audi in Whitby. She was joined at the ceremony by PC MPP for Simcoe North, Garfield Dunlop, along with Owasco dealer principal Bob Verwey, his senior staff and technicians, plus a number of local tradespeople.
“I’ve certainly heard from a number of my constituents, including people at this dealership about their concern about this new tax that’s being levied on them with no value for it,” said Elliott. “People are concerned about it affecting their businesses and feel they are paying enough tax already. I was very pleased that Garfield [Dunlop] offered to come with me and highlight a few issues so that everybody knows that this is coming down to their level and they are going to ask to spend money on this new tax,” she said. “We’re very pleased to have our meeting here and I’d really like to thank Bob Verwey and everyone at Owasco for hosting us, this is something that is really important to all of you and to many other people who might not know about the implications of this tax,” Elliott remarked.
Garfield Dunlop, who is spearheading the campaign against the tax, provided an update on it and the Ontario College of Trades. “For the past year I have been all over the province trying to alert people about what’s happening with this Ontario College of Trades,” he said in front of a group of local tradespeople. “I’m a plumbing contractor myself with a CFQ licence and there are a few of us at Queen’s Park. And so I was honoured to be given the job for skilled trades and apprenticeship reform but I never thought I’d be up against something so deep as the Ontario College of Trades.”
He describes the new bureaucracy as “unbelievable” and said people in the province are trying to create new jobs and don’t need any more road barriers.
The new tax will result in a 675 per cent increase in licensing fees per year, going from $20 per year to about $120 per year, says Dunlop. “We are telling people all over the province this is actually happening,” he said and “what we’ve found is that it is going to give you absolutely nothing. There is a building being funded by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities on Bay Street [in Toronto] with more than 50 employees already. Everybody who has a CFQ will be paying that bill — the College of Trades says the bill will be $7 million but our estimates put it at $84 million with all of the trades, including electricians and sheet metal workers. And they want compulsory certification on every trade, so its going to be very expensive.”
Dunlop also talked about the 150 trades cops the College will be hiring to police registrants and see if their licences are in order. “Even if you are a hairdresser, the trades cops will be able to walk in and check your licence, with some of the penalties equivalent to the cost of your license,” he said.
“We have more oversight today than in the history of province,” Dunlop continued, “particularly in construction, with building permits and areas such as architecture, engineering and in automotive. We don’t think we need another body so we are fighting it all the way.”
The Ontario Construction Employers coalition has been set up and along with the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, the coalition which started with six organizations is now up to 35 with over 200,000 people.
“We are asking the government to stop this trades tax. If there is an election, then we have made a commitment that we will abolish the Ontario College of Trades. We will also make changes to Apprenticeship and Tradesmen’s Qualification Act. The coalition has asked any MPP running, if elected to sign the pledge to stop the trades tax and this is what we’re about today.”
Following the signing, Canadian auto dealer talked with Owasco dealer principal and TADA board member Bob Verwey about what the trades tax means for our industry. “The problem with the trades tax is that techs have to pay for their tools and pay for their training,” he said. “The biggest difficulty is getting new people into our trade and now they have to pay more money to get into it — an extra $120 a year. It’s just another deterrent for young people. And for those people who’ve been in the trade a long time, they are being nickled and dimed on tools as well as training and now more tax — there is no improvement for them.”