This “College”- to which I didn’t apply, but am MANDATORILY a member- is a giant joke and money grab. It was a joy to open my mailbox and find that I suddenly was overdue for fees for a College I’ve never attended, but have no choice but to join, and to realise that if I didn’t pay, you’d either fine me or suspend my right to practice the career I’ve paid, trained, and worked for.

Dear Ontario Governmental /Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities;

logoOCOT

Dear Ontario Governmental /Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities;

This “College of Trades” thing you’ve started is awful.

This “College”- to which I didn’t apply, but am MANDATORILY a member- is a giant joke and money grab. It was a joy to open my mailbox and find that I suddenly was overdue for fees for a College I’ve never attended, but have no choice but to join, and to realise that if I didn’t pay, you’d either fine me or suspend my right to practice the career I’ve paid, trained, and worked for.

Your website, “new and improved” as it may be, is shoddy and full of technical problems. Your understaffed hotline is manned by people who apparently don’t know who they are representing, and who seem unclear on their own policies and payment processes. When I finally got through your phone service, after a 26 minute wait, I was greeted and identified by my credit card number- not by my license number, or by anything in relation to the trade I have worked so very hard to learn.

You have decided that we tradespeople have to pay yearly dues (at a 600% increase to our previous rates!) or risk very costly fines, fees, and the risk of having a suspended license. This is confusing, since many of us still have licenses from our old Ministry of Trades which are still valid. We paid for those. Mine is good until 2015, but that apparently doesn’t matter. Obviously the ability to tell time and use a calendar isn’t on the College curriculum, as I had to chase the “new” license I paid for through a tangle of phone calls and wait times after it was “lost in the mail” for FOUR MONTHS last year! It’s reassuring to know that my governing body considers a “yearly licence renewal” to be closer to 7 months.

As an alumnus, do I have any say in the policies of my newly beloved school? Do I get to vote for our school colours, decide on a mascot, attend any basketball games or eat in a charming cafeteria? Do I get to mingle with my fellow students?

Where did you come from, College of Trades? Who build you, paid for you? Who roams your halls? Where are you located? Do you offer training? Do I get a diploma? When did I graduate? Does my lengthy apprenticeship count? What about the years I’ve spent working as a tax-paying, due paying individual? Do you offer benefits or options for alumni? Or are you, as my research suggests, just a figment of the Liberal government agenda? Where does my fee go? It certainly doesn’t rent me a locker or buy me a parking pass. How can I feel pride as a newly “college educated individual”, without a cheery bumper sticker, or uniform, or a pen with a fancy crest of arms on it? My yearly dues don’t even get me a school uniform.

When I chose to send myself to the hairstyling academy, you didn’t recognize it as an educational establishment- so I wasn’t able to get financial aid. There were no student benefits, interest relief programs or helping hands available. Graduating, apprenticing, and going through the lengthy licensing procedure were all done under my own steam. Where were you, Government, when I needed maternity leave? Where were you when I needed EI. You’re more than happy to dip into my pockets when it suits you, but you’re sure not eager to pay it back! It’s nice to know that I’m NOW a member of a proper educational institution at long last. Thanks for “raising the profile of the trade(s)”, Training, Colleges and Universities Minister Brad Duguid. It’s great to know that NOW, after working for almost 10 years, I’m worthy. That doesn’t cheapen the hard work I’ve put in at all. Gee. Thanks. Let me open my wallet for you.

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