Legislation Will Strengthen Apprenticeship System, Make Workplaces Safer

Legislation introduced Feb. 28, will better ensure skilled trades work is performed safely by trained and certified tradespersons. It will also ensure a level playing field for all companies and improve safety for skilled tradespersons.

Amendments to the Apprenticeship and Trades Qualification Act will give the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency additional tools and authority to enforce certification requirements in the compulsory certified trades. The recommendations came from a working group comprised of industry representatives.

“Most employers ensure that work in the skilled trades is being performed safely by properly trained and certified workers. But there are some who do not, and they need to be held accountable,” said Labour and Advanced Education Minister Labi Kousoulis. “With these changes, we are strengthening the province’s apprenticeship system, and giving peace of mind to tradespeople and consumers who pay for their expertise.”

The Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency is the regulatory body for 13 compulsory certified trades under the act. A trade is regulated as compulsory when there are issues of public and worker safety and consumer and environmental protection within the industry. To work in a compulsory certified trade, an individual must possess a valid Certificate of Qualification, be a registered apprentice or possess a valid temporary work permit.

The proposed amendments, recommended by industry stakeholders, will:
— enable enforcement officers to inspect employers at any time work is being performed
— make recognized associations who register apprentices on behalf of employers and dispatch workers to job sites subject to enforcement provisions
— clarify the authority of the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency when issuing compliance orders or stop work orders and introduce administrative penalties
— provide for appeals of compliance orders and administrative penalties through the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board
— make it an offence to breach an order issued by an enforcement officer
— raise the maximum penalty from $5,000 to $10,000 for the first offence and from $10,000 to $50,000 for a second offence.

In addition, students enrolled in a recognized pre-apprenticeship training program will be registered with the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency. This will help ensure their smooth transition to apprenticeship and ensure they are aware of the requirements to complete their program.

“Working in these trades comes with risk, and we want to ensure the safety of Nova Scotians is protected,” said Sandy Bonvie of Bonvie’s Sheet Metal Fabrication Shop in New Glasgow. “Having the right enforcement tools and processes in place will help create a more level playing field for trades employers and a safer work environment for all apprentices.”

Nova Scotia’s apprenticeship system prepares people for jobs in the skilled trades. The agency is focusing on improving the number of apprenticeship opportunities in the province and helping apprentices complete their journey to certification.