Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

September 23, 2011 05:00 ET

OFL President Sid Ryan Calls Hudak's 'Jobs Plan' Into Question

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 23, 2011) - "Tim Hudak is peddling the notion that undermining high quality apprenticeship training and minimizing the supervision of apprentices on job sites will create jobs," said Sid Ryan, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour, referring to Conservative Leader Tim Hudak's promise to reduce apprenticeship training ratios in the construction sector.

"Eliminating apprenticeship training ratios is not a jobs strategy. It won't bring any more people into the work force. It will simply create an incentive for employers to use apprentices as cheap labour, leaving them vulnerable to layoff when they get their license or their wages increase," said Ryan. "Hudak's recipe will further undermine apprenticeship completion rates which are already too low as a result of the jobs crisis still facing Ontario."

According to a 2008 Statistics Canada Report titled Skilled Trades Employment, between 1987 and 2007, the proportion of tradesworkers working in Ontario fell significantly, from 41 percent in 1987 to 36 percent in 2007. A subsequent report released in September 2011 titled Trends in Registered Apprenticeship Training in Canada, 1991 to 2009 concluded:

...the apprenticeship training system – which is dependent upon both employers and individuals seeking apprenticeship training – is sensitive to sharp fluctuations in the rate of economic growth. This is evident in decreases in the number of new apprentices who are taken on by employers during an economic slowdown...

"Once again, the Tories' cheap labour strategy is being masqueraded as a jobs policy," said Ryan. "Tim Hudak has only one mantra: no-strings-attached tax cuts and reductions in wages. Yet the evidence shows that such policies in both Canada and the US have been proven failures in creating decent jobs and restoring consumer and business confidence — a necessary pre-condition to kick-starting the economy."

According to the OFL, high quality apprenticeship training ensures that an apprentice is trained and properly supervised by a variety of skilled journeypersons. "Apprentices learn from practical experience when they are exposed to variety of talent in the workplace. Indeed, it is this variety that allows apprentices to turn skills and knowledge into real expertise," said Ryan.

"Eighty to 90 percent of apprenticeship training takes place on the job site, not in a classroom. Having adequate ratios of journeypersons to apprentices is a serious health and safety issue. These ratios exist to protect apprentices, journeypersons and the public," said Ryan. "We want the apprentices of today and tomorrow to have access to the same kind of safe, high quality training and access to good jobs that my generation had."

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