By Mike Davey
There are many keys to success in the collision repair industry. Stretching the analogy further, these keys are kind of like the key to your car … if your car needed multiple keys inserted in precisely the right sequence before it would unlock the door. You must have the basics in place before you can start on the advanced stuff. That might seem obvious, but there are always people who try to run before they can walk.
One of the basics you must have in place is ensuring that you’re obeying all municipal, provincial, and federal regulations. I’m not hear to sing the praises of red tape, or to insist that all of those regulations are actually necessary to protect workers, or the environment, or whatever else they’re putatively designed to do.
In a very real way, whether or not the regulations are in place for a good reason is entirely irrelevant. They’re the rules. Contrary to the old saying, rules are actually meant to be obeyed. That doesn’t make them right or just, but it does mean that the governing body in question can land on you like a ton of bricks if you break them. There are certainly ways to change those rules, but while they’re in place a business needs to obey them, or risk paying the consequences.
For a very long time in Ontario, there were essentially no consequences to employing an unlicensed collision tech. Licenses existed, certainly, but there was zero enforcement. That situation has changed dramatically.
You may not like the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) or agree with any of its aims or policies, but they’re the sheriff in town. They have the power to levy fines on your business if you’re not compliant, and they’ve got 41 enforcement officers out looking for infractions.
A number of collision repair facilities in Ontario have had fines levied in the last year, ranging from $240 to $1250. Don’t think that’s a one-time cost. I suspect that an inspector who has found a business to be in contravention of the regulations once will be back again, probably sooner rather than later.
Currently, techs are only required to have a license in Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. New Brunswick may follow suit, however, as a group of collision repairers in New Brunswick aims to convince the provincial government to classify collision repair as a compulsory trade under the Apprenticeship and Occupational Certification Act. This designation means mandatory training and certification for anyone wanting to work in that trade. Check out “Push for compulsory licensing in New Brunswick” for more info.
We’ve also launched a new survey to gauge how strong support for licensing is among collision repair professionals. You can find it on the front page of collisionrepairmag.com.
One of the keys to success in any endeavour is making sure you’ve got what you need in place, and you need qualified techs. If you’re in a province with licensing, then they need to be licensed as well.
There are ways for a working technician in Ontario to obtain that license, even if it’s been quite some time since their formal training ended. Please visit collegeoftrades.ca for more information.
Mike Davey is the editor of Collision Repair magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org