Amendments to the Apprenticeship and Trades Qualification Act, proclaimed on Oct. 18, make for a stronger trades system in the province.
The Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency has additional tools and authority to enforce certification requirements in the compulsory certified trades.
“It’s important to ensure industry has access to the skills it needs to contribute to a vibrant economy,” said Labour and Advanced Education Minister Labi Kousoulis. “These changes will better protect the skills and safety of those who work in the skilled trades and support youth in connecting with opportunities here at home.”
The changes 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
- 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
- require that employers aid the enforcement officer in carrying out their duties through the duty to assist provision
- 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
“Strong enforcement levels the playing field for those companies who comply with the law and will ensure a safer work environment for all apprentices,” said Duncan Williams, president, Construction Association of Nova Scotia and a member of the Compliance and Enforcement Advisory Group. “We are glad to see these changes come into effect.”
In addition, students enrolled in a recognized pre-apprenticeship training program will be registered with the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency. This will increase their awareness of the value of trade certification and facilitate a smooth transition into apprenticeship opportunities.
Regulations are being prepared to allow the agency to issue administrative penalties when dealing with repeat non-compliance behavior.
The amendments are based on input from industry stakeholders and passed by the House of Assembly in March.
The agency is focusing on improving the number of apprenticeship opportunities in the province, helping apprentices complete their journey and sharing the value and importance of certification in the compulsory trades.