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Ontario College of Trades will bring protection, says reader

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One complaint you don’t hear enough of anymore is “my mechanic is too honest.” That’s not meant to cast aspersions on all auto mechanics, but one of the absolute certainties in life is that if we drive, sooner or later we will end up placing our trust, and a good deal of our disposable income, in the hands of someone about whom we have absolutely no idea if they are worthy of that trust.

Letter to the Editor

RE: Nov. 1 Motive power and the Ontario College of Trades

To the Editor:

One complaint you don’t hear enough of anymore is “my mechanic is too honest.” That’s not meant to cast aspersions on all auto mechanics, but one of the absolute certainties in life is that if we drive, sooner or later we will end up placing our trust, and a good deal of our disposable income, in the hands of someone about whom we have absolutely no idea if they are worthy of that trust.

The act of repairing an automobile is divided into five (motive power) compulsory trades as defined by the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities, depending on what part of the car needs repairing. As consumers, we are at the mercy of what might be an arbitrary cost as defined by who we select to do the work.

Unlike a competitive tender as you would have among competing contractors for a construction project, we as consumers don’t get to choose the lowest cost bid to repair our vehicles. We are obliged to pay a diagnostic fee to determine what’s wrong in the first place. Most automotive service centres will absorb that fee or incorporate it into the overall cost of the repairs, so long as we choose to have the work done by them. Otherwise it can be quite costly to get a second opinion.

In the Nov. 1 issue of the Daily Commercial News, automotive mechanic Tim Ridley was quoted as saying: “I don’t really see any type of value that my trade or my colleagues are going to get from this” referring to the new Ontario College of Trades and proposed membership fees. Therefore he has initiated a campaign to rally opposition to the College.

With all respect to Mr. Ridley, and again this is not meant to cast aspersions on him specifically, it’s not just about him. A large, and possibly the most significant part of the College’s mandate will be about consumer protection, just as one of the most important facets of every other regulatory college is protection of the public interest.

No doubt Mr. Ridley and all of his colleagues have always dealt fairly and equitably with all of their customers all of the time. But just maybe there are some in the automotive repair industry who have been less forthright.

Statistics Canada ascribes a fairly high amount of underground economy participation to the automotive repair industry, close behind construction. More frequently in construction, legitimate contractors in compulsory trades such as electrical or plumbing find themselves competing against ridiculously low bids diluted by blended labour rates that utilize unqualified workers.

The greatest value the College will bring to the compulsory trades will be in enforcement and protection of the trades from encroachment by unskilled workers. Skilled workers in the 22 compulsory trades should embrace the College rather than fear it.

Jeff Koller
Industry Compliance Officer
Ontario Construction Finishing Industries Alliance

Daily Commercial News welcomes letters on any construction industry-related subject but reserves the right to edit and withhold them, although care is taken to preserve the core of the submission. Letters should be no more than 550 words and must include the name, mailing address and daytime phone number of the author. Letters reflect the opinion of the author and not that of the Daily Commercial News, Reed Construction Data or its staff. Submit letters to editor@dailycommercialnews.com

by Daily Commercial News

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