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Are the UCP cancelling local apprenticeship committees?

The Alberta government recently introduced legislation that, if passed, could affect trade workers in the province.

Last week, the Alberta government announced that they plan to replace the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Act.

According to the announcement, the AIT was introduced in 1991; although it was updated as of last June. The government believes that it “no longer meets the needs of industry, employers, apprentices or post-secondary institutions.”

Its replacement is what the UCP have dubbed Bill 67: Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship Education Act, which received first and second reading in the legislature last week.

I thought I’d go through the old act and the proposed act and compare some of the changes.

Alberta Board of Skilled Trades

For example, the new act replaces the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board with the Alberta Board of Skilled Trades.

The current board is appointed by the lieutenant governor, but the new board will be appointed by the minister, which although unspecified, I assume is the minister of advanced education.

Another difference is that the new board will go from a maximum of 13 board members to 15. As well, under the current setup, the board must have the following composition:

  • 1 chair
  • 4 members representing trades employer interests
  • 4 members representing trades worker interests
  • 2 members representing non-trades employer interests
  • 2 members representing non-trades workers interests

The previous legislation also allowed for the designation of certain non-board person to:

  • Receive notices of board meetings
  • Attend board meetings as observers and advisors
  • Receive copies of board meeting minutes

That has been removed from the new legislation.

The new legislation also suggests reducing the number of board functions from 8 to 5:

Current

  1. Advise the minister regarding
    • Needs of Alberta labour market for skilled and trained persons
    • Training and certification of persons in trades
    • Matters referred to the board by the minister
  2. Make recommendations to the Minister respecting designation of trades and occupations
  3. Approve and register apprenticeship programs and student work training programs
  4. Appoint members to local apprenticeship committees and provincial apprenticeship committees
  5. Monitor activities of provincial apprenticeship committees
  6. Develop policies respecting recognition of training programs
  7. Promote pursuit of careers in trades and occupations and the training and certification of persons in respect of trades and occupations
  8. Carry out any functions or duties assigned to the board under the act or by the minister

Proposed

  1. Consult with industry and make recommendations to the minister regarding designation of trades
  2. Consult with industry regarding
    • Standards and requirements for certification in designated trades
    • Any matter requested by the minister
    • Any matter the board want to engage with industry on
  3. Advise and make recommendations to the minister regarding
    • Restricted activities and classes of individuals who may perform them
    • Any matter the minister requests their input on
  4. Promote the value of designated trades careers and certification
  5. Any other functions assigned by regulations

The board currently has the ability to make orders under 14 circumstances. The proposed regulation reduces that to 5:

Current

  1. Establish standards and requirements for trades training and certification
  2. Establish criteria and requirements for granting certificates
  3. Establish standards and requirements regarding tradesperson competency
  4. Establish educational or entrance requirements
  5. Provide for granting of credit for previous training or experience
  6. Establish requirements for documenting of apprentice or trainee progress
  7. Establish technical contents of apprenticeship programs and training
  8. Provide for examination of persons
  9. Establish achievement standards
  10. Establish requirements for granting a certificate
  11. Provide for approval, registration, and recognition of student work programs
  12. Recognize documents related to skill and knowledge of tradespeople as being equivalent to certificates
  13. Provide for recognition of training programs

Proposed

  1. Specify the undertakings and activities of a trade
  2. Establish standards and requirements for certification
  3. Recognize non-Alberta documents as equivalent to certificates
  4. Recognize successful training completion as meeting certification requirements
  5. Any other order-making power conferred on the board by regulations

The current legislation also outlines that board members can serve terms that are only 3 years long, and no more than 2 in a row. The new legislation has no restrictions on board term limits.

It also instructs the board to submit an annual report to the minister. The new legislation says nothing about an annual report.

Apprenticeship committees

The currently legislation outlines instruction for the governance of both local apprenticeship committees and a provincial apprenticeship committee.

Local apprenticeship committees were responsible for representing the needs of apprentices in local areas, including

  • Communicating the provincial committee with local information
  • Monitoring the apprenticeship system in their trade at the local level
  • Making recommendations to the provincial committee regarding training and certification
  • Recommending appointees to serve on their trade’s provincial committee
  • Helping settle disputes between local apprentices and employers

Local committees were filled with at least 2 persons to represent trade worker interests and at least 2 persons to represent employer interests.

The provincial board had similar mandates, but in relation to the board. It also acted as a liaison between the board and local apprenticeship committees.

The new legislation has completely removed all references to both local apprenticeship committees and a provincial apprenticeship committee.

Executive director

Missing from the proposed legislation is 2(5), which assigned the executive director of the board as the executive secretary and directed them to attend all board meetings.

In fact, there is no mention in the new legislation about an executive director. There is an “administrator” mentioned, however. The new administrator would have more functions than those listed for the executive director under the current legislation:

Executive director

  • Advise the minister regarding apprenticeship legislation matters
  • Carry out duties assigned by the act
  • Assist and advise the board
  • Administer apprenticeship programmes, training, and certification
  • Carry out duties assigned by the minister

Administrator

  • Advise the minister regarding apprenticeship legislation matters
  • Establish how and when people can apply for certification
  • Consider applications for certification and endorsement
  • Provide for evaluating of knowledge/skills of certification applicants
  • Maintain register of trade certificate and endorsement issuances
  • Assist and advise the board
  • Carry out duties assigned by the act

Factory production

The current legislation allows for uncertified workers to perform trade functions in a factory setting provided that such work “consists primarily of factory mass production, in-plant assembly operations, or in-plant processing, or operations supporting in-plant processing, of natural resources”, as long as “the supervision and inspections that are appropriate to the operations or processes being used”.

The new legislation removes that exemption.

Fines

Under both the current legislation and the proposed legislation, anyone who contravenes specific prohibitions (such as working in a certified trade without being certified) could face a fine of up to $15,000. However, the new legislation increases it to a maximum of $50,000 for subsequent offences.

The proposed legislation also introduced a $50,000 fine for cheating on any exams related to the apprenticeship process.

Inspections

Under the current legislation, compliance officers “may at any reasonable time enter any premises of an employer or any premises or location at which tasks, activities or functions are being performed or work is being carried out and carry out an inspection.”

The wording has been changed slightly in the proposed legislation. Compliance officers can still enter premises at a reasonable time, but the types of premises is more specific now, including places where someone:

  • Receives classroom instruction or on-the-job instruction as part of an apprenticeship education programme
  • Receives training as part of an industry training programme
  • Performs an activity in a designated trade
  • Prepares for or participates in an examination or assessment

The new legislation explicitly states that such an inspection doesn’t require a search warrant or a court order, but the current legislation doesn’t mention search warrants or court orders regarding inspections at all.

As well, the proposed legislation gives compliance officers additional inspection powers, including being able to “demand the production for inspection of any document, record, or thing” relevant to the inspection, as well as being able to “require any person to provide the officer with all reasonable assistance”.

Finally, the new legislation introduces protection from liability for “anything done or not done by that person in good faith while exercising the person’s powers or carrying out that person’s functions under this Act”.

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By Kim Siever

I live in Lethbridge with my spouse and 4 of our 6 children. I’m a writer, focusing on political news, social issues, and the occasional poem. My politics are radically left.

I’m also dichotomally Mormon. And I’m a functional vegetarian: I have a blog post about that somewhere around here. My pronouns are he/him, and I’m queer.

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