The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Human Resources Committee - Committee Room 1 (1494)

HANSARD

 

 

NOVA SCOTIA HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

 

 

COMMITTEE

 

ON

 

HUMAN RESOURCES

 

 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

 

 

LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEES OFFICE

 

 

Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency

and

Appointments to Agencies, Boards and Commissions

 

 

Printed and Published by Nova Scotia Hansard Reporting Services

 


 

 

 

 

STANDING COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RESOURCES

 

 

Mr. Bill Horne (Chairman)

Ms. Joyce Treen

Mr. Ben Jessome

Ms. Margaret Miller

Mr. Iain Rankin

Mr. Eddie Orrell

Ms. Karla MacFarlane

Hon. Maureen MacDonald

Hon. Denise Peterson-Rafuse

 

 

In Attendance:

 

Ms. Kim Langille

Legislative Committee Clerk

 

Mr. Gordon Hebb

Chief Legislative Counsel

 

 

WITNESSES

 

Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency

 

Ms. Marjorie Davison

Chief Executive Officer

 

Ms. Carol MacCulloch

Chair

 

 

 

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2014

 

STANDING COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RESOURCES

 

9:00 A.M.

 

CHAIRMAN

 

Mr. Bill Horne

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, I think we’ll begin our meeting today. Welcome all, I’m sure everybody is pleased with the weather at the moment, it’s nice and mild. Thanks for coming to today’s meeting.

 

First of all, my name is Bill Horne, chairman of the Human Resources Committee. Today we’re going to have a presentation by the group talking about the apprenticeship program. Before we go into that, I would ask each of us to introduce ourselves and indicate the constituency we are from.

 

[The committee members introduced themselves.]

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: I’d like to remind everybody to have their phones off and if you need the washrooms, it’s out to the right, to the left, and to the right I think you’ll find the washrooms. Any emergency, you should go out the front door here and muster down at the Legislature area, so thank you.

 

The presenters today, I’ll ask you to introduce yourselves.

 

MS. CAROL MACCULLOCH: My name is Carol MacCulloch, I am the first chairman of the Board of the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency. I am representing a company called Elmsdale Landscaping and I guess volunteering through Landscape Nova Scotia. I was president of the Construction Association for more than 20 years so I have probably been dealing with apprenticeship issues for going on 30 years now.

 

 


MS. MARJORIE DAVISON: I am Marjorie Davison, chief executive officer of the new Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Welcome. Any moment you can go ahead and start your presentation. Who is going to present?

 

MS. DAVISON: I am going to do the presentation. Can you hear me okay? Do I need to adjust my microphone a little bit? Good, okay.

 

I’d like to thank you for the opportunity for Carol and myself to come here and talk to you about apprenticeship and to give you an update on the new Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency. I think you’d all agree, as Members of the Legislative Assembly, that apprenticeship is an important component of our post-secondary system in this province, as well as supportive to the growth of our industries, our economy, and our province.

 

I just want to jump right in. I know I have 15 minutes and I will be very high level in my presentation and will be pleased to take any questions that you have afterwards. The Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency was established July 1st, following about three years of work with industry so it’s in response to industry demands that there would be a wholesale change to the way apprenticeship is run in this province. It comprises the Apprenticeship Board, a re-imagined network of trade advisory committees, the agency staff that were divisional staff now transferred directly to the agency, as well as the new position of chief executive officer.

 

Just one fact about the chief executive officer that is somewhat different in terms of a government employee: while I am accountable to the Deputy Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, I am also accountable to the board and I am accountable for the advancement of the system in this province to that board.

 

The system itself is established under the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency Operating Charter. That’s a document that establishes the agency, as well as some legislation through the Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act and the Community Colleges Act. The purpose for that was to establish apprenticeship in a broader context of trades training so that we would see trades training from opportunities in the P to 12 system for our youth to learn about the skilled trades, through pre-apprenticeship at the Nova Scotia Community College and other pre-employment trainers, through the pure apprenticeship system and on to post-journey regulations - so what would happen in terms of our occupational health and safety legislation, our technical safety legislation, as well as the regulatory framework that we have through our own legislation.

 

The board itself is composed of 15 seats - 10 of which are trade seats. Those trade seats are allocated across four different sectors, and then there are five seats which are members at large. One of those member-at-large seats is dedicated to the Vice-President Academic at the Nova Scotia Community College. The other four are really there to help us balance out the diversity that we need to represent our under-represented groups on the board.

 

The Trade Advisory Committees - if you’re familiar with the system you would be aware that we have used Trade Advisory Committees in the past and they really are at the hub of the system. It’s where trade advice can come in and can have influence. It’s a reimagined - I use that term “reimagined network” because it was at this level that industry felt that their advice was not being heeded, that they were having little influence on how the programs were being designed and executed. This is where we’re looking to make significant change in the system.

 

One of the key changes here is that the Trade Advisory Committee now will also serve as a program advisory committee for the Nova Scotia Community College. Where the college has a shared mandate of designated trade in legislation, they are required to consult through the Trade Advisory Committee on this program. Currently, for example, we are doing a program review of one of the programs at the college.

 

I thought it would be helpful to share the principles upon which we are building the new agency. First and foremost is shared ownership with our industry partners, our training providers in government. We want to ensure on a go-forward basis that we have a flexible legislative framework so that we can better meet the needs of industry.

 

The system’s view of trades regulations that I’ve already mentioned is so important that we’re able to have a coherent view of the system, and that should have an impact on how we’re able to fund the system accordingly in the future. It’s built on the principle of two-way accountability, so yes, the agency is accountable to industry, the agency, its board, and its Trade Advisory Committees, but industry is also accountable back to the system to make sure that it steps up to the plate and that it engages more fully in the system.

 

It’s built on a principle of inclusivity. This is really key. We’ve been very challenged to have under-represented groups properly represented in the apprenticeship system in the past and so we’ve actually built into the mandate statement of the agency the need to create better participation access for this system to our under-represented groups.

 

Finally, it’s built on the principle that one size does not fit all in recognition that there are 66 distinct trades that are designated in legislation. They’re within four sectors, but those sectors are facing many different situations and trends, and we need to be able to be flexible to meet the differing needs that are there.

 

I thought I would just talk a little bit very quickly about what apprenticeship is, just to make sure we’re all on the same page about apprenticeship. One thing we have heard is that apprenticeship is confusing to most of the public. They are confused about what apprenticeship is, how you do apprentice, how it fits into the broader scheme of our training system.

 

Apprenticeship today, as I mentioned, is partnership based; it requires an employer. The employer provides the employment and agrees to train the apprentice in that skilled trade. Obviously we have partnerships with training providers that provide that technical portion of the training in government as the agency is a facilitator of industry participation connecting all of the players. So 80 per cent of a typical apprenticeship takes place on the job so it’s on-the-job learning. The other 20 per cent is usually done through an in-class or blended or virtual delivery of technical training.

 

The apprentice learns and works under the guidance of a certified journey person. That journey person and the apprentice - you usually hear it talked about as a ratio, the one- to-one ratio. That is the standard within the legislation. It’s a training ratio to ensure the quality of training for the apprentice.

 

The individuals can be apprenticed immediately after high school. This is a little-known fact. Most apprentices choose to go through a community college program first, but if employment is there, an employer can hire an apprentice immediately following high school.

 

Industry sets the standards, so industry is at the heart of the system. They set the standards for training and certification. You’ve probably heard that you have to do so many hours to complete an apprenticeship. The number of hours is set by industry, by trade. You’ve probably heard that there are skills that they have to sign off on their log books. There are a number of skills - those are signed off by the certified journey person as well as the employer.

 

Also the technical training standard is set by industry that is taught predominantly at the Nova Scotia Community College in our system. So when an apprentice completes all of those requirements, they are then able to achieve their certification and write the certification exam. That exam is usually an interprovincial standards exam so it gives them the ability across Canada. I know I’m talking very quickly, but you can see that it’s quite an achievement for an apprentice to go through this program and to receive certification.

 

I have a few slides just to give you an overview of what the system looks like. I mentioned we have 66 designated trades, but with the current capacity that we have, we can only offer technical training in 32 of those trades. These are the trades that you can actually do an apprenticeship in currently; the other trades are certification only.

 

We also have a great relationship - we always have - with Nova Scotia Community College. We provide transfer credit to all the programs that have crossover with one of our skilled trades designated in legislation. This is based again on the principle that a prospective apprentice should not have to repeat any training, so we try to encourage them always moving forward.

 

This slide gives you a look at the top 10 trades by participation: construction, electrician, carpenter, and automotive service technician - probably the typical trades you hear about. They are the largest trades and typically do take the top three spots from year to year. We have over 6,000 apprentices in our system so you can see that the majority of them are within these top 10 trades currently.

 

I wanted to show as well that while we do have a one-to-one ratio standard in the legislation, there is the ability for an employer to request a variance on that ratio, so if there’s a business requirement that they need to have another apprentice on-site, they can make that application. We also have the ability to have industry-wide set ratios that vary again from the one-to-one. You see an example here of a number of industries that have already started to do that.

 

A little known component of the apprenticeship system is our enforcement. Even though it doesn’t comprise a lot of our system, it is a very important piece because there’s an expectation from industry that we do provide a fair playing field for industry. So of the 66 designated trades, 13 of those are regulated so they are compulsory certified - meaning that you have to train as an apprentice and be certified in order to work legally in this province in those trades. We have two enforcement officers who currently help us to enforce and encourage compliance with our employers. We are complaints-driven so we do conduct investigations based on those complaints and we do have tools within our legislation that we can apply if we do confront a system of continued non-compliance.

 

So where are we? We did some benchmark satisfaction surveys so we could get a real good appreciation of our employers who are actively engaged in our system - what is their experience like and what is the experience of our apprentices? We did this so we could benchmark on an ongoing basis as we tried to improve our breadth of the employers participating in our system, well as ensure that our services to our apprentices are helping them to complete. So you can see that we actually had pretty good results from our employers - highly satisfied - but it’s useful to know that the employers who responded to our survey, for the most part, had been participating in the program for five years or longer. They’ve had that opportunity to really get to know how to interact with the system.

 

The apprentice survey results were not as high but still fairly good. One of the lowest satisfaction percentages is the 46 per cent dissatisfaction with doing training online. This is something we do have to look at because employers are demanding more flexible options for the delivery of technical training, so options that are less intrusive in terms of their work. So we have been investing heavily in delivering other approaches online and need to figure out a way to make it better for our apprentices.

 

So what have we been up to? The board since July 1st has been working on a new, five-year strategic plan. I’ve provided here the key pillars - this is all draft so this will be validated fairly soon with our industry partners, but I wanted to give you an idea of what we’re thinking and what some of our objectives are that we’re trying to achieve over the next five years with the new agency.

 

When you look at these five pillars, if you look sort of in the middle - it’s hard to have a middle with five but it’s Nos. 2 and 3 - changing the outcome for apprentices and employers is really the centre of what we’re trying to do, to really support the success of the relationship between the employer and the apprentice, and then looking at what we need in the external environment to make that more successful.

 

So it begins with making our system more industry-led and connected to our industry and looking at our training, looking inside, and making sure that the processes we have in place for our employers are helpful and reduce bureaucracy. Then it’s looking at society at large - how do we make certification an economic driver even to the point of getting the public to demand the use of certified tradespeople when they’re hiring for skilled trades?

 

I just provided some examples of our objectives under each of those headings for the next number of slides; obviously we’ll be able to go into more detail in the question period. The first one is changing the culture, looking now to build a brand-new agency, and really change how we do our business: making that agency accountable to industry stakeholders; promoting apprenticeship as a viable career option for our youth, really helping our young people to understand this is part of our post-secondary system; and as I mentioned before, embedding diversity inclusion in our system and advocating for change.

 

One of the biggest complaints we hear is around how we engage with the federal government through the EI system; our apprentices have difficulty accessing their EI support. So starting to advocate for change with the federal government is part of our plan.

 

For apprentice success, we really have to begin with when the potential apprentice starts to think about their career and how they want to spend the rest of their lives working. We need to help them make better informed career choices, whether they choose at the end of the day a career in the skilled trades or not. If they do choose that career, it’s making sure they have the pathway they need that is relevant, responsive, and accessible for that training, and then to make sure there are learning supports in place to help them achieve success.

 

We do have issues sometimes around essential skills, around needs for math refreshers. We have a number of trade qualifiers as well. These are not apprentices but skilled workers who have worked usually time and a half in the trade, who can qualify for certification, but they also sometimes need some essential skills support, and they need some exam prep and those kinds of things.

 

A change in the outcome for our employers - really it’s looking at what kind of incentives we need to have in place for our employers to step up to the plate, for them to become more engaged. We know through national studies that only 25 per cent of employers who could hire apprentices actually do. We don’t know what that looks like in Nova Scotia, so one of the things we plan to examine a little bit further is: what does that really look like for us? In the interim, what are those incentives; how can we engage with our employers so we can increase the number of employers who train?

 

If we want youth to stay in this province, we need our employers to provide those opportunities for our youth. We know there are a lot of opportunities that could be provided for apprenticeships.

 

We have the START program - we did a pilot and now it was relaunched officially on October 20th. That is an incentive program that provides financial support to the employers who take on apprentices for the duration of that apprenticeship. It’s particularly available in rural areas, although in the city the apprentice must come from an under-represented group if the employer is to qualify.

 

We also want to work with employers to be more welcoming to hiring people who are from under-represented groups. We all tend to hire ourselves, so really helping employers to see outside of that box and see the value of having diversity in their workplace.

 

Strengthening delivery is all about leveraging technology and optimizing those best practices that are out there so that we can improve our program delivery. We are in the throes of developing an IT system across the Atlantic. We are hopeful that this is going to reduce the paperwork that we currently require our employers to engage with us in the system. One of the key things here is to really look again at the system as a system across all the trades training, from P to 12 through to apprenticeship certification, and are we properly allocating our resources across that system?

 

Currently we have about $24 million going to our community college for the delivery of pre-apprenticeship. We have less than $5 million going to trades training for the apprenticeship technical training portion. We have a lot of students going into community college who are not furthering their training through certification. In a regulated trade, that’s just giving them enough training to be dangerous and to work in the underground economy. So we really want to look at that system: how can we optimize the allocation of resources more appropriately?

 

Finally, making certification an economic driver; this is really just ensuring the system is responsive to the industry training requirements to our labour market needs. Again, I think I mentioned about having a fair playing field. There are enforcement processes, but also looking at our procurement practices. So even as government, how we procure - are we promoting the use of apprenticeship through our procurement practices?

 

We are in the throes of a huge initiative with our Atlantic Region. It has been a directive from CAP to harmonize our systems across the Atlantic so we are doing that. We’ve started in four trades and six other trades were just announced. We’re also looking at it from a systems perspective. This is happening nationally as well so there are 10 trades nationally that are also being harmonized. As well, you would have seen that we’re doing quite a bit of work on the labour mobility front to help our apprentices, not only our Red Seal certified tradespeople but our apprentices who need to work out of province to travel more freely.

 

So what have we achieved to date? We can’t wait for the plans, we had to keep working. I don’t have that up there but one of the things we’ve really been concentrating on is restructuring of the agency and creating some positions in the agency that support our industry engagement, so looking at a new director of partnership and innovation, bringing in a senior industry liaison who can work and bring sort of that industry perspective into the system, and also adding some capability around our labour market analysis so that we can provide consistent, coherent labour market information to build the college system and the apprentice system so it’s coherent.

 

The system has been chronically underfunded, and I think I’ve mentioned misunderstood and supported, so we really are dependent on - if we’re going to make a change, we really do need to have continuing funding that has been committed for these new positions.

 

The inaugural board is up and running and you will see our new members come forward to the standing committee in January, that our minister will be recommending, so we hope to have almost a full slate of board members by then.

 

Our new Trade Advisory Committee network is well underway. We’ve just completed a provincial road show, we went around the province and talked with our employers and industry partners about the agency and helped them think about how they could become more engaged with us. We’ve launched a new website and we are providing web-enabled forms now so we are already making it easier, and in fact, with one of our forms more than double the number of our clients is using the online version as opposed to the paper, so we’re making some transition already to that format.

 

The government passed legislation just in the Fall sitting to make it easier for apprentices to gain their hours out of province. In our current legislation we were not able to keep apprentices in our system that needed to work out of province to continue their training and now we are able to do that. Underneath that there must be agreements in place with those jurisdictions to ensure some due diligence on our part for the quality of training that they are receiving in those jurisdictions.

 

We are just getting ready to sign two new recognition agreements this week with Alberta that will recognize pre-employment training, which is a first in this country. As well, we’ll provide greater mobility between the two jurisdictions from an apprentice perspective.

 

I just wanted to share a little bit about what we think it means getting it right. I’m interested to hear what your perspective might be on that. In addition to increasing the diversity, the representation of diversity in our system, we want to improve our completion rates. Currently they stand at 47 per cent, which is one of the lowest completion rates in the country. We do need to study that a bit more and understand what would be a viable completion rate that we should aim towards. We’d like our apprentices to complete in a more timely manner; currently it takes them seven to nine years, and we’re looking to reduce that to five to six.

 

I’ve already mentioned that we’d need more of our graduates from NSCC coming into the apprenticeship system but that is dependent on employers providing those jobs. In order to see that conversion rate, we need to really work with our employers and encourage them to hire apprentices.

 

We want to make sure our technical training is an extension of our workplace so ensuring that there is the right amount of practical skills in that training, it’s not all theory-based and that it’s connecting better to what the workplace needs and it’s about quality of that training.

 

Getting it right means that we will have full harmonization with the Atlantic - I can’t over-estimate what a huge initiative that is. That will come down to also harmonizing our regulatory frameworks which I think you would know is a lot of work but I think that’s important, industry has been asking for a long time for that so I think it’s important that we stay on track; looking to reduce our mobility barriers for apprentices, as I’ve mentioned; and to have our new IT platform and our web-enabled services up and running.

 

That’s sort of a quick look at how we define success in the next coming years and that’s a very quick look at the apprenticeship system. I hope that has been helpful and I’m pleased to answer - Carol and I both - any questions that you may have.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Orrell.

 

MR. EDDIE ORRELL: Thank you very much for your presentation. I have a bunch of questions I can ask, but I probably won’t be able to ask them all at once. I think he’ll let me go through a second round. I guess one of my first questions is, in looking at the structure of your board as it sits right now, are there any people on your board who have actually gone through the apprenticeship program from education, through training, through apprenticeship, to Red Seal to sit on your board?

 

MS. DAVISON: Not currently. I think it’s really important to understand the purpose of the board. Some of the new people who have come forward to apply to the board will have those qualifications. We will have a good mix at the end of the day when the board is fully populated. It is also important to understand that the board is a very high level, strategic entity.

 

The real place where we need industry - the people who have gone through the system, who have trained to have certification, who are practising in the trade currently - we need that at the Trade Advisory Committee level. That’s really where the influence is; each Trade Advisory Committee can make decisions for their own trade. Through approval of the board, they’re able to designate new trades. They’re able to do their own trade regulations for voluntary trades. They have a much bigger scope. They also will be asked to do large, long-term HR outlooks for their trades to help both the college and the apprenticeship system, as well as the P to 12 system to design their training to meet what industry is saying are those long-term outlooks.

 

It’s a different system than before. There will be more influence and the Trade Advisory Committee itself is an important entity, which in the past I believe industry felt like they weren’t listened to. They came together, their time was spent - it would take a number of years to get a regulation through. That is what we’re trying to change. That’s where it’s really important to have that trade practitioner advice. We will have a mix on the board at the end of the day, but the board is really to keep your agenda outside - come in and let’s all work together to decide what’s best for the agency and the system as a whole.

 

MR. ORRELL: I guess my question is - me being from Cape Breton, and people from all over the province - will there be equal representation on the board from the whole province as far as geographic areas go?

 

MS. DAVISON: Definitely trying to do that. It’s based on who applies, but you will see some members from Cape Breton.

 

MR. ORRELL: If you have a bunch of different applications, who is going to decide what board member would be appropriate for that specific area? I think there are seven people on your existing board now - are they going to make the decision who . . .

 

MS. DAVISON: It’s still the minister’s decision. How that works is the inaugural board is a recruitment committee to expand to the new seats and so all the applicants have come forward to the board and the board has reviewed them and is making their recommendation. As per the operating charter, the board puts forward three names per seat if possible. Again, it depends on who has applied - if adequate numbers have applied. Then it’s the minister’s decision to select those positions at the end of the day.

 

MS. MACCULLOCH: One of the things that the board spent a lot of time on, our inaugural board - and actually the inaugural board relies heavily on the work that was done by what was called the reference group and the panel, which preceded our appointments by about two years. A lot of thought went into what kind of representation should be reflected on the board. The actual structure that’s reflected in the charter came from that group - which was 27, almost 30 people, I think - and what skills we need, what perspectives we need, small business, large business, different sectors of the economy. A lot of effort went into the board, but I think as important as the board is, our role is to make sure that the agency stays relevant and connected to industry.

 

One of the things that we asked for and is in our charter is the requirement to have an annual meeting to reach out to people. I think a board of 17 will never be able to represent or have a representative for 66 trades, let alone each employer. So we’re trying to ensure that we have mechanisms beyond just the board that bring that connection with industry and that we’re accountable and industry has their voice.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Rankin.

 

MR. IAIN RANKIN: I guess I’ll consolidate two questions into one here. So relative to the last slide, I’m just wondering how you are measuring the effectiveness of the programs you’re delivering. You mentioned improved completion rates and more employers hiring apprentices; in particular, those two performance indicators. I’m just wondering if there’s a program evaluation that you’re using. Then a second part to that question would be, especially when it comes to the employers hiring apprentices, do you do ongoing market-demand studies to make sure that the programs are relevant to the positions being hired?

 

MS. DAVISON: We hope to have a full program evaluation system in place. As a result of a review of the apprenticeship system the review was in two phases. Phase one went across the province and looked at what the division at that time needed to do to change and what the college needed to do. The second phase of that was what employers needed to do.

 

We’ve looked at that fully and that is why the new agency has been created. I’ve mentioned that we have the benchmark studies and the satisfaction survey, so we do plan to do those every two years so that we can begin to compare how we’re doing with our performance indicators, and also to compare that across the country in terms of how we’re doing and with respect to other jurisdictions.

 

Our Trade Advisory Committees themselves provide us with a mechanism for ongoing evaluation. While we’re just getting up and running with those, they will be doing market studies, they will be working to understand the labour market information in their areas and how that can be applied to design and what the training needs to look like. We will be providing some capacity to industry to help them do that through - I mentioned our new labour market analyst position. Do you want to add anything to that, Carol?

 

MS. MACCULLOCH: One of the things that we heard especially in the road show and when we were working through the reference group is industry input into what is going on with trades training at the P to12 system, and industry input into what is going on with pre-apprenticeship programming at the college. That was one of the things that was very important to us in taking this larger view and I think will be a role of the agency to provide industry with an opportunity to provide its input into this broad spectrum, especially with the college pre-apprenticeship program; it’s such a huge feeder system into apprenticeship and into the skilled trades. So to bring those industry voices consistently into the college apprenticeship programs will be very valuable, I think.

 

I think we’re looking at kind of just an ongoing process, and probably one of the more significant challenges of the agency going forward is to sustain the relationships with industry across all those 66 trades - feeding into the college, building a really strong, vibrant network there, and supporting good fact-based decision making for everybody. I think that’s going to be one of our challenges: trying to keep 66 committees - you know we won’t ever have 66 at one time but that is how we keep the program alive, by having industry coming to the table to talk to us, listening to the problems and the challenges of different sectors and different occupations.

 

MR. RANKIN: Just a quick follow-up and then I’ll pass it on to the next person. How much collaboration is there going to be with industry and these advisory committees, and in particular, the Education and Early Childhood Development Department? I think there’s an opportunity with the curriculum review and there’s a proclivity to change some of the programming with the schools so I think it’s critical that we get some equality of opportunity in the different high schools. I understand some high schools do have programs but I think we need to see how that can be shared across the province.

 

MS. DAVISON: Building on what Carol has said, that is what industry wants, that consistent, coherent voice across the system as well as into the P to12 system. Youth is part of our system definition so when we defined apprenticeship training in the legislation, it does include youth programming. We have already been in talks with the Deputy Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development and with staff to begin that discussion: how can we enable our industry and our Trade Advisory Committees to have input into what’s happening and the skill trade centres? There are 11 skill trade centres currently in the P to 12 system.

 

We also fund a lot of programs for youth in the P to 12 system. We have Techsploration, which you may have heard of which provides opportunities for our Grade 9 female students to explore opportunities in the skill trades amongst other occupations in sciences and technologies as well. We fund our Skills Canada - Nova Scotia group; they go regularly into our school system to talk about opportunities in the skill trades. We have our own youth apprenticeship initiative - so you can become a youth apprentice at the age of 16 to 19. Right now we have 120 youth who are doing that.

 

We work very closely with the co-op program in the high schools to ensure that when a student does a co-op in a skilled trade, they do it under the conditions of an apprenticeship so they can get full credit for those hours worked towards an apprenticeship. We also provide grants to all the school boards to help them work with providing career exploration opportunities in the skill trades.

 

Recently actually we helped fund an Aboriginal youth skills trades fair. About 80 Aboriginal youth from across the province came into Halifax and we are working with them to help them. They went to the Trades Exhibition Hall. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that, but the mainland building trades have put together a really great display of all the different construction trades that our youth have gone into and we’ve helped with funding that. We are very active in that arena, but I believe that there is room for us to do more and for industry to have more influence in what’s happening there.

 

MR. RANKIN: How many of those 11 would be in HRM, the skill trade centres?

 

MS. DAVISON: I don’t have it with me, but I can definitely get you that information.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Ms. Miller.

 

MS. MARGARET MILLER: Thank you for your presentation today. I was writing down questions as you were talking and getting the answers right away, so it was great. You’ve certainly been very informative.

 

I was thinking about the program now - the collaboration we have with Alberta, with the tradespeople getting their hours there. Do we have any kind of program like that with other provinces or is it just Alberta? Is that something where we’re actively looking for that partnership with other provinces?

 

MS. DAVISON: Definitely. The new legislation does require us to have jurisdiction-to-jurisdiction agreements so that we can ensure that when our apprenticeships are working out of province, they are working according to the rules of that jurisdiction, the ratio is being met, and the certified journey person is on-site.

 

Our first model is with Alberta. We are now working with our Atlantic colleagues so we’re looking at all four Atlantic Provinces, signing an MOU together to support that. Our next jurisdictions that we’re looking at are Saskatchewan and British Columbia, which are members of the New West Partnership, so we’re trying to make sure that the New West Partnership is working in tandem with the Atlantic Workforce Partnership so that we’re doing some collaboration. Ontario and Quebec will be more challenging, so we’re going to try to work with the provinces that will work with us first and then we’ll see how we get there in the future.

 

MS. MILLER: As a second question, what about training employers? You identified that you don’t have enough. What incentives are out there for employers to bring an apprentice into the programs?

 

MS. DAVISON: There is the provincial START program, which I mentioned very cursorily in my presentation. It’s a new program, one that we were able to repurpose some funding from the Canada-Nova Scotia Labour Market Development Agreement; the province also has kicked some money into that program as well. That provides an incentive to the employer of $2,500 when they assign a new apprentice, and then it’s $5,000 for each year that they maintain that apprentice. So they can get a pretty good financial incentive if they step up to the plate.

 

They’re also eligible for a tax credit through the federal government of $2,000 per year per apprentice that they sign on. There are incentives as well available to the apprentice. Combined with the federal government, we have a number of progressions or signing incentives, progression incentives, and completion bonuses for our apprentices.

 

MS. MILLER: Is that information put out there? I mean, it goes out to all employers. This isn’t any kind of a - I don’t want to say hidden fact, but not a well-known fact that most people know.

 

MS. DAVISON: We are trying to drive more of our employers to our website - we have a new website. Everything you need to know and do is on our website. We are trying to get out there so that employers are becoming aware.

 

We are also trying to streamline the paperwork associated with doing a START. This program actually started through our Labour Market Development Agreement for all types of careers and opportunities, not just skilled trades, so we’ve had to sort of work and modify that program to make it more suitable to our employers so they can access it more readily.

 

We can always do more promotion so we do plan to do a very rigorous marketing promotion plan for the new agency and getting out there with our different employers. We have very engaged employers, we have champion employers but we have a lot of employers who may have tried it once, it didn’t work for them, they are disengaged and then we have a lot of employers who don’t believe in training, so we have to really identify those different audiences and what the messages are to bring those employers in.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Ms. Peterson-Rafuse.

 

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: I just want to follow up on Alberta. As we know, the Premier is on his way or in Alberta to sign - is that the MOU that you just mentioned?

 

MS. DAVISON: Yes.

 

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: What would be in that that would be of interest to us, as a province, where this is a new partnership?

 

MS. DAVISON: There are two MOUs. The first MOU is for the recognition of pre-apprenticeship training. In the past we had our grads from the Nova Scotia Community College, if they could not find an apprenticeship here, which is often the case, they went to work in Alberta but Alberta did not recognize any of their prior training or their hours. Through this agreement Alberta will give automatic recognition to all of our one-year programs that are in the skilled trades. Then they’ve agreed to work with us to develop a mechanism by which they would give recognition for other training that would be beyond that year.

 

That’s the first agreement. That is huge because that has been an issue for our grads for many years. They’ve had to go to Alberta, they’ve had to retrain or they’ve had to take challenge exams - and the fear of that, if it has been a couple of years since you’ve done your program at the college and they’ve had to pay additional fees or they’ve had to register and pay additional registration fees.

 

The second agreement is really around the mobility of apprentices and ensuring that there is transparency when apprentices need to travel to Alberta to work. These are for those apprentices who are still maintaining their home base in Nova Scotia but they are going out and they are working for parts of the year in Alberta. What we’ve enabled ourselves to do is to give them a home base, a place to come back to, a place to maintain their learning record so it reduces that barrier. That’s what we did in the legislation.

 

What we’ve done with Alberta is that when they are working out of province, Alberta is agreeing to verify that employer is a credible employer, and that the employer is following the rules of the apprenticeship system in Alberta.

 

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: As a follow-up to that, of course it’s something that has been requested I think that I heard you say from the apprentice, what about the idea that we want our youth to stay here with their apprenticeship and now the attraction that, you know, then go to Alberta, be part of the apprenticeship program there and they may stay there rather than come back to the province, is there some type of strategy or incentive that you are looking at to put in place so that now you will have this agreement that they can go there and get their apprenticeship there or continue it? But what is going to bring them back here to stay in the province and work?

 

MS. DAVISON: Before this agreement and the legislation, when they went out West they had no tie back to Nova Scotia because we had no ability to maintain their registration here. This actually gives them a home base and more of a purpose to return to Nova Scotia, they’ll come back for their technical training. They won’t be registered in Alberta, they’ll be registered in our system; they’ll get their training here. The more connections we feel they can have with Nova Scotia while they are training and having to travel for work, we feel the better, the higher return of them back to the province. Also preparing for when we do have more available jobs, when shipbuilding is finally up and running, there are a lot of other large projects that are impending. We feel that this way they’re going to be ready and more available to take those jobs when they are here.

 

I know it does seem a little counterintuitive but in fact we feel these people are already working out of province and what we’re doing is trying to provide a connection back to Nova Scotia so that it will be easier for them to stay here, to have their record here, and to then find new employment here.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Ms. MacFarlane.

 

MS. KARLA MACFARLANE: Thank you so much for joining us this morning. Your presentation was great. I just wanted to let you know, too, I went on your website and it was very easy to navigate, so thank you. Many of these websites you go on are very difficult.

 

You mentioned earlier that you have two enforcement officers for the whole province. When we look at the fact that you have 1,700 employees engaged in this process and over 6,000 individuals signed up for the program, do you feel that having two enforcement officers for the whole province is efficient? I’d like to know where they are based out of - and you don’t have to give exact percentages, but where do they spend the majority of their time?

 

MS. DAVISON: We do have two enforcement officers for 13 regulated trades so there is a capacity issue there. However, we are working currently with our Safety Branch of the Department of Labour and Advanced Education to expand our ability when we’re out in the workplace through our OSH inspectors and through our technical safety inspectors so that when they’re out there doing their own inspections, they know to ask for the card. That’s sort of a bit of our motto: ask for the card. They can be additional sets of eyes for us when they’re out, particularly in the construction workplace. That is one way that we’re trying to expand our capacity.

 

We do have a new tool. Last Spring in the legislation we added a cease-and-desist order so when our enforcement officer goes on-site - if they see that there’s illegal work happening, they’re able to stop that work; we didn’t have that capacity before. It’s really difficult because when our enforcement officer does go on-site, people run, so we are challenged with how to be effective going on-site and we need to be more proactive. So we are looking at doing some blitzes where we would go out - we would make this well-known to our employers that we’re coming out, but to come out and sort of see zero tolerance for a short period of time so we can send a real message about how important it is to be certified when you’re working in that trade.

 

We have tools - we can look into payroll. We can examine if they are actually employing certified tradespeople, but we rarely do that. So if we need to step up our evidence-based approach, we can do that as well, but it really starts at home. A number of our government projects that government has funded, we hope to develop a better monitoring of those projects themselves - to be on that site more often and making sure that we as government, first and foremost, are requiring they use skilled tradespeople on these jobs.

 

MS. MACFARLANE: You indicated that most of these situations are complaint-driven so would these officers randomly show up or do they give notice prior, and will there be more hired in the future? Is there intention to have more officers out there? I guess I’ll just wrap it up too - since I’m on the ratio issue - with regard to having a two-to-one now. Is that something that’s coming in the new year?

 

MS. DAVISON: No. First of all, I didn’t answer your first question. We have two enforcement officers. They are based in Halifax, but they are provincial so they travel across the province. They do not necessarily announce their presence on-site - they usually don’t.

 

We are working proactively to expand our ability without having new officers currently to expand our ability to enforce through partnerships with OSH and through our partnership with our government tendering process. If in the future that’s still a problem, we can look at adding additional resources, but where we are trying to add some additional resources right now is really around re-engineering the system for the employer and we cannot provide technical training in 30-some of our trades. As well, we can only provide training to 40 per cent of our apprentices in any given year.

 

Those are really crucial issues around - we’ve got to get our capacity of the system up and running, but we are working proactively with industry. We are trying to go to the employers directly. For instance, the recent issue that has hit us right now is the installation of heat pumps by electricians and not refrigeration and air-conditioning mechanics. That’s a huge issue so we’re working proactively with Nova Scotia Power to determine how we can get information out to suppliers, to distributors, to ensure that they - we can’t control that, we don’t have any authority to control to whom people are selling product but we can try to work together with our employers to achieve better compliance. Those are some of the approaches that we’re taking.

 

On the ratio, we’re not moving to a two-to-one ratio. Ratio is determined by each industry. So through the Trade Advisory Committee process, if it’s determined that they want to vary the ratio, then through the consensus process and through consultation with industry they can bring that as a recommendation forward to the board.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Jessome.

 

MR. BEN JESSOME: Thanks for being here, Ms. Davison and Ms. MacCulloch. Could you please clarify what the difference is between an apprenticeship and a co-op?

 

MS. DAVISON: Well a co-op, it is available in the university sector, as well, but I think of it mostly in the P to 12, the high school sector. A co-op is when you can do a work placement and get credit for that towards your high school completion. You may do that through the summer. We actually do work with our school system to provide summer co-ops and we work with CANS - the Construction Association of Nova Scotia - as well as the Automotive Sector Council to deliver summer co-ops to potential apprentices in the skilled trades. That is short term, usually 100 hours of learning on the job. There is some safety training and some orientation to the sector as part of that.

 

The apprenticeship is a longer term. The apprenticeship is a term of up to four to five years, trying to work between 1,800 to 2,000 hours a year in that trade and then interspersing that work with technical training at the college. So co-op is really a step to trying to complete another certification or your high school diploma; it is used readily in university programs as well. Apprenticeship is a whole other component of the post- secondary system.

 

MR. JESSOME: Through you, Mr. Chairman, you kind of touched on it briefly but I’m wondering if you can elaborate a little bit on - I’m sorry, forgive me, I can’t remember exactly what you said but you talked about non-skilled trade-type apprenticeships and kind of what the discussion was around that.

 

MS. DAVISON: What I mentioned there were trade qualifiers. So it’s another way to achieve certification if you have not ever registered as an apprentice, so particularly in the voluntary trades, a trade that is not regulated, say carpenter, you may have worked in that trade for years and years and you were never apprenticed by your employer, you never received any formal training. You can get all your skills signed off by the employer and you can demonstrate that you have indeed achieved sort of the full scope of the trade at work.

 

You do have to put in more hours than an apprentice would be required to put in, it’s usually time and a half of that, then you can come and try to write the exam, you can challenge for certification.

 

MR. JESSOME: On that note, there’s what, 66 different trades involved, recognizing that you are a new entity, is there any indication that the number of trades or others involved could expand beyond that skilled trades definition? I’ll clarify: I mean for example, a kinesiologist in university looking to get training hours.

 

MS. DAVISON: Typically the current legislation is really geared towards a skilled trade, which is usually an occupation that requires certification in order to work. It doesn’t normally include the professions. Some systems actually do, so it just depends on the system across Canada. I wouldn’t say that it’s not a possibility; it depends on where industry wants to take the system here. But if there is already a defined profession - a standard, a way to train in that profession, a way to certify - then I wouldn’t say that it would be likely that it would need to come to the apprenticeship board.

 

Any time there is an emerging skilled trade or occupation that doesn’t have that type of definition, they can certainly make application to the board and the board then would strike a Trade Advisory Committee to look at that issue or conduct research or whatever they need to do to determine if that should be designated.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Ms. Treen.

 

MS. JOYCE TREEN: I just got my last question answered - or his last question was my question. I’m good, thanks.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Ms. Peterson-Rafuse.

 

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: I have several questions, if I can get them in. If not, we’ll go around the table again. I’m just wondering about the Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism - what kind of connect do you plan to have with them; is there some work already in place or is that just at the early planning stages if it is?

 

MS. DAVISON: I think that’s a great question. It is a challenge to get employers to see apprenticeship as a part of their business plan. We don’t have a formal relationship currently working with ERDT - I think that’s what it is.

 

We are working with, for instance, our First Nations communities. We’re trying to help our First Nations communities see how to use the apprentice system as part of their economic planning. So, for instance, if they’re constructing a number of houses or if they’re installing numbers of heat pumps, it’s actually better for them to train their own apprentices and have their own journey people available to them in the long term, in terms of cost, to have that service contracted out. We do want to take that approach that we’re using with our First Nations communities, and work with our economic development groups so that they can begin to add it into their lingo.

 

I think the important piece here, as well, is that we have been working with our procurement folks in the new Department of Internal Services, and trying to develop some philosophy around supporting apprenticeship when we as government are contributing to economic development. So when we’re letting out tenders, how can we encourage those who are bidding on the work to demonstrate that they are promoters and users of the apprenticeship system?

 

We’ve made some really good strides there. There’s some language that’s going to be added to the procurement policy. There will be some language added for those who are bidding or our departments who are contracting work - whether it’s food services, housing, maintenance, or landscaping services. We’re looking to see how we can encourage departments to build in support for apprenticeship in those contracts as well.

 

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: That would lead me into the Invest Nova Scotia board. Has there been any contact with them or any thoughts in setting up, even if it was a pilot project, for investments that are being made on behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia, if it is suitable and reasonable, that there be a tie-in with those investments for that particular businesses to offer a number of apprenticeship seats or programs, tied into the dollars that we’re giving as a province? Is that something that you’ve contemplated?

 

I know that this is new and you’ve got many balls in the air bouncing around, but is that something - because you made the comment how you thought that it would be good to be tied into ERDT, this would be like another step further.

 

MS. DAVISON: I really like the way you think. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do. We haven’t started that, but I love that idea and will definitely follow through on it. It’s just looking for all those natural linkages within government, as well as with our third party agencies, so that we can be more collaborative together in how we’re supporting our apprenticeship system.

 

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: May I ask one quick last question? That will be it for me. This is a little bit completely different, but I was wondering about - I noticed when you were talking about the lower number of those individuals who have actually completed the program. I’m just wondering if there is a communication complaint process for somebody involved in the apprenticeship program, if they’re not happy with how it’s rolling out. That would also be the same for the employer. On top of that, is there an evaluation system in place?

 

Those are two different things. One is during the process that you are involved in the program - whether you’re an employer or the actual apprentice and you might have some issue - is there an easy system to talk to somebody about them to try to resolve them? Then the last part - is there a final evaluation for both sides?

 

MS. DAVISON: Our current process is that we have training officers and they have a workload or a caseload. So a certain apprentice will be assigned to a training officer and they will be in contact with one another - the training officer to monitor the progress of the apprentice, the apprentice when they have issues. It could be around pay, it could be that they don’t like they’re getting quality training or they’re having trouble getting time off to come to training, those kinds of things.

 

Our board has asked us, though, to look at how we could use social media to provide another avenue for our apprentices to provide that kind of feedback, that input into the system, so we’re looking at how we can have sort of a constant 24-hour channel for our apprentices to be in contact with us. As well, we are interested in having something similar for employers - maybe sort of a CEO email address that anybody could write to if they have a complaint or a suggestion for the system.

 

Obviously our staffing can, necessarily - well, you can never have enough staff so we do have to find other ways to provide these communication avenues. Thank you.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Ms. MacDonald.

 

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I’ll be really quick. I just want a few numbers from you if you are able to provide them; if not, maybe after, just to give us a sense. For example, the MOU with Alberta, people one year - how many people would fall into that category?

 

MS. DAVISON: I think that’s a very good question. I don’t know the answer to that; it will take us some time to try to figure that out. We believe that a lot of our young people who are working in Alberta are sort of skirting the system because they’re worried that they are having to pay extra fees or that they will have to take extra exams, so they’re not actually coming forward and participating in the formal system so it’s hard to know exactly how many. But I can get you exact numbers of those who have registered in our system who are working elsewhere. I can get that fairly easily.

 

MS. MACDONALD: So if it’s difficult to have numbers in that first category, it must be really difficult maybe in the second category, the second MOU. I’m interested in both of those actually.

 

MS. DAVISON: Well we can work with a college. If they go straight from NSCC to Alberta, it is difficult to know where they’ve gone. But yes for the apprentice one, when we’re able to get a little bit more detail.

 

MS. MACDONALD: Okay, good, thanks. My last question is around the START program and the same thing, the numbers with respect to - and I think you indicated there are different criteria whether they’re in the - is it HRM?

 

MS. DAVISON: Yes.

 

MS. MACDONALD: Is it just HRM versus the rest of the province?

 

MS. DAVISON: If the apprentice is within HRM, then the apprentice needs to come from an under-represented group.

 

MS. MACDONALD: What are the characteristics of an under-represented group? What are the requirements?

 

MS. DAVISON: A woman, African Nova Scotian, an Aboriginal Nova Scotian, a person with a disability - that’s pretty well the typical area. I’m sure someone could present themselves with something else as well.

 

MS. MACDONALD: What are the numbers right now in the START program?

 

MS. DAVISON: We have about 270 active START agreements with employers and we have another 13 to 15 - I’m not sure - that are pending. We have the applicants’ applications in and they are being reviewed.

 

MS. MACDONALD: One of the things we didn’t talk about and I don’t expect us to talk about this now - it’s the whole question of Cape Breton. I’m always really concerned about the really horrendous demographic information we get out of Cape Breton with respect to employment opportunities; the child poverty rates we heard about yesterday are pretty astronomical. So any information you can provide with respect to how this program is rolling out in that region . . .

 

MS. DAVISON: The START program itself?

 

MS. MACDONALD: Yes, it would be very helpful.

 

MS. DAVISON: I don’t have it in categories right now by region, but I would be able to do that. When I looked at it recently, we have a lot of STARTs in the northern region, so we have a lot in Pictou, Westville - and you can imagine why it has been really hard hit and there are a lot of tradespeople there. We do have a smattering of some in Cape Breton and some of the other areas, but that’s where I saw the bulk coming out of the northern region. I can get that regional breakdown for you.

 

MS. MACDONALD: Thank you, that’s it for me.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Jessome.

 

MR. JESSOME: I’m wondering if you can elaborate on the present structure of the board. We talked a little bit about representation from across the province and from different skill sets. I’m just wondering if you could kind of clarify what you mean by that.

 

MS. DAVISON: Currently there are seven members on the board. Four of those members are occupying trade seats and three of those members are members at large - one of which is the Vice-President, Academic, at the Nova Scotia Community College. One member at large, Gordon MacLean, is retired, but he has significant experience with the Public Service, as well as in Cape Breton with Devco, working with skilled trades. Doreen Parsons represents Women Unlimited; she has for a number of years done programs to help women access the skilled trades.

 

Our four industry seats - obviously Carol has mentioned that she is representing the service sector through Landscape Nova Scotia. We have two construction sector reps right now: Brad Smith, Executive Director of the Mainland Nova Scotia Building and Construction Trades Council, and Heather Cruickshanks, who has been a long-time employer of apprentices for over 20 years; she is with a sheet metal company. Brian McCarthy is one of the vice-presidents at Irving and he is our industrial/manufacturing sector rep.

 

We do not currently have a rep from the motive power sector - you know, cars, trucks, other mechanical jobs - but we had no one come forward to apply to the inaugural board. We will have someone there in the next go-round.

 

So there are the four sectors then: service, construction, industrial/manufacturing, and motive power. We are looking to have someone from the Aboriginal community as well as from the African Nova Scotian community for the additional member-at-large positions. We haven’t had a lot of applications, so we’ve extended that so we could get out there and really encourage and recruit some more applications to the board for that purpose.

 

If you wanted to talk about skills or competencies, I’m not sure. I could ask Carol.

 

MR. JESSOME: In my world there are a lot more people who are experienced than me so I’ll leave the professionals to do their thing.

 

If I could though - in that light as well - is there any appetite for a spot on the board for a member of the youth community or someone who is a recent completer of the apprenticeship program?

 

MS. DAVISON: There had been in the previous system a spot on the board for an apprentice. It was very challenging to get an apprentice for that seat, it often went unoccupied. Then when you did get an apprentice, sometimes something would happen - their employment relationship changed. It’s very transitory so that has been difficult. I think that is why the board is really looking at what those other mechanisms are that we can put in place, so apprentices have a more consistent and ongoing avenue into the board.

 

It doesn’t prohibit an apprentice for applying so an apprentice could apply for any of the trade seats as well.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr. Jessome. Mr. Orrell.

 

MR. ORRELL: I guess I want to shift back through to the ability for our apprentices to stay here in the province. Do we actually have enough Red Seals working in our province right now to handle the amount of apprentices that we are generating through the community college system or through the high school system? I think you mentioned earlier that only 40 per cent of our apprentices are able to get the training and the supervision here in the province. Is the reason because there’s not enough Red Seals or are there other reasons that could explain this?

 

MS. DAVISON: That is probably a reason for some of the trades. Some of the trades don’t have a history of training, so often you might have a workplace where there is no one who is certified to provide that mentorship and that training to an apprentice. That is one of the best uses of our trade qualifier process. When we find an employer and we try to encourage them to take on apprentices, we actually will work with their skilled tradespeople to help them get certified so they can be that mentor, that certified journey person.

 

It’s not typically an issue in the more popular trades or the more well-known trades, particularly in the construction sector. Where we have the unionized sector, we have a long history of training support so I think we have a good number of journey persons in the construction sector for that purpose.

 

There may be other reasons but I think it comes back to what I mentioned earlier: training culture. So the more we can improve the training culture in this province, we do have avenues to help people become certified so they can take on apprentices.

 

MR. ORRELL: I guess because in a former life I had taken a lot of students as part of their training and it was almost - I won’t say it was a requirement, but it was almost expected that everybody who was actually working in the field would at least at one time or another take a student. We used to have a situation where you can do two-to-one at the same time. You have to be on-site; you had to be able to supervise everything they did.

 

My concern is that if something like an electrician who may take on apprentices who may be - and I don’t think that’s possible, I don’t think it’s allowed but they could be at two different sites or two very different ends of a construction site where they can’t get supervision, so that would require more supervision.

 

I guess the other question I had - is the government looking at using what we have in our Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal or maintenance of the buildings in the area here - of boosting that ability for the people who work in government or even make it a requirement to take on apprenticeships in order to be able to fill the positions that may come up? We’re also hearing some things where now they’re not hiring a person unless there are two people gone and that will hinder that ability, but I’m hoping it can be brought back to the government and they will try to do their part to make sure that our skilled tradespeople who work within government will look at taking on apprentices, because that’s almost a guaranteed situation. Is that something the government is looking at?

 

MS. DAVISON: So currently, yes, government would make a great employer, government can provide the full scope of trade so it is a great place for an apprentice to come to be trained. Maybe they would not be able to work here afterwards or maybe they would compete successfully for a job.

 

Currently we are restricted, as government, to hire an apprentice for two years; I think that’s through the collective agreement. That puts the government in the position of hiring an apprentice for the first two years and then putting them out to find another job elsewhere or poaching from a small- to medium-size enterprise that trained an apprentice for the first two years and then bringing them into government for years three and four.

 

It’s not an ideal situation that we currently have to support apprenticeship. I have been in contact with my colleagues at the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal and they would be very excited if they could have that come back, where they could hire an apprentice for the duration of the apprenticeship to certification.

 

If I could just quickly mention about supervision - supervision is defined in our legislation but it is training - I always have to differentiate between safety and training - and we have OSH for safety. So I’m always encouraging our industry stakeholders, if you really feel there is a safety concern on-site, please call the toll-free line at OSH, but when it comes to looking at training and ratios and where an apprentice is deployed on a site, there is a lot of common sense that comes into play. If you’re able to provide supervision to an adequate amount and based on how far along they are in the system, they may need less supervision. So we try to take a common-sense approach regarding the supervision.

 

MR. ORRELL: I guess if I could, one last one - I guess it is more an observation than a question. Here we are as government trying to develop the apprenticeship program to best serve the citizens that are staying here in the province and we have a government that’s crippling that with a collective agreement, I guess, or whatever. My observation is, we should look at the best way we can to make sure we get those kids or young adults, or even older adults who decide to do the apprenticeship, that we can actually as a government that is trying to promote that, actually do what we say we’re trying to do.

 

MS. DAVISON: That’s out of my scope, but I certainly do agree that would be something to consider in our collective agreement.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Ms. Treen.

 

MS. TREEN: Thank you for your presentation, it has been great. Every time I come up with a question, someone asks it. It’s great; we’ve been getting a lot of information here today. My question is, we do have 32 trades represented right now and the 66 - so if a trade or industry or whatever wanted to get into an apprentice program, you mentioned there’s an application. Who is the application to and what exactly do they have to go through to move that ball forward?

 

MS. DAVISON: For designation of the trade, the application is through the board. Also, if an industry thinks that their trade should be compulsory certified or regulated, they can also make an application to the board. Then the board has a number of procedures that they would put in place to review that application and to make a recommendation to the minister. The ultimate decision - not for designation of the trade, but for compulsory certification of a trade - lies with Cabinet.

 

For training, once they’re designated, then it really is incumbent upon the system to find a way to put that training pathway in place. One of the things we’re looking at right now for those other trades that are certification only is can we at the minimum at least have log books available so that it’s at least encouraging a competency-based approach to completing the requirements while we’re looking at how we build capacity for putting technical training in place.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. I’ll take the privilege of asking a question too. I want to know how you approach the high schools to start this apprenticeship program, do you go through the guidance counsellors or do you go through the students? Do the students request from the apprenticeship program to start?

 

MS. DAVISON: Specifically for youth apprenticeship?

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes.

 

MS. DAVISON: We have a youth apprenticeship coordinator. She actually starts in September. She does a round of presentations through all the schools and she has been in, I think, 37 different schools already this year. She goes to the high schools mainly - Grades 9 to 12. They would learn about the apprenticeship program directly through her. We also have presentations through the schools through some of our other partnerships. Then we would treat them just as we would any other apprentice who wants to become registered in our system and they would get assigned to a training officer and they would be monitored. We do waive any fees for youth apprentices. We try to make it as barrier-free as possible for them coming in.

 

MS. MACCULLOCH: I think the other thing is to work with employers as well. A number of employers understand. I know it has certainly been the experience of Elmsdale Landscaping. They’ve had some 16-year-olds who are really interested in working in the garage and began their apprenticeship at 16, working part-time on weekends and working summer jobs. They’ve had truck and transport mechanics pass their certification exam at 20. Unfortunately they tend to leave the province once they get their papers, but that’s another challenge that employers have. I think the other avenue is to continue to help employers understand how different pieces of the system can work for them and so it’s not just waiting for hiring a full-time person.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: I was going to call for the close, but Ms. MacFarlane would like to ask one more quick question.

 

MS. MACFARLANE: Just a quick question. You mentioned your relationship with the federal government and that there is a $2,000 tax credit provided to employers who take part. If there was anything you could request right now from the federal level for assistance, what would it be to assist in this program?

 

MS. DAVISON: I think the main thing is that apprentices depend on the EI system when they go to technical training. This really, in the scheme of things, doesn’t make sense in terms of trying to support a training culture because we’re requiring the apprentice to be laid off, essentially, and be treated as a laid-off worker. The one thing I would like to change is to enable the apprentice to remain employed and be able to support the employer to continue to pay a percentage of the wage for that apprentice while they are in school, as opposed to getting EI support from the federal government.

 

MS. MACFARLANE: Thank you very much.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, I think that wraps it up but I would like to say thank you very much. You’re very knowledgeable and very outgoing and speaking very well and clear - clarity is good. We are pleased with the presentation.

 

Thank you, Ms. Davison and Ms. MacCulloch, thank you very much. (Interruption) Yes, did you have any closing remarks?

 

MS. DAVISON: Well I did. (Laughter) I’m okay not to use them; it’s fine. Thank you.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much again.

 

I’d like to take about a five-minute recess just to get ready for our nominations.

 

[10:21 a.m. The committee recessed.]

 

[10:33 a.m. The committee reconvened.]

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: All right, I’d like to call this meeting back to order. We’ll do our ABCs first, the appointments. We need a motion to approve each of these groups.

 

Ms. Treen.

 

MS. TREEN: Mr. Chairman, under the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage, I move that Ruby McDorman be appointed as a member of the Colchester-East Hants Regional Library Board.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

 

The motion is carried.

 

Ms. Miller.

 

MS. MILLER: Mr. Chairman, under the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, I move that Jarvis Googoo, Holly Meuse and Daniel N. Paul be appointed as members-at-large to the Council on Mi’kmaq Education.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

 

The motion is carried.

 

Mr. Rankin.

 

MR. RANKIN: Mr. Chairman, under the Department of Justice, I move that Karen Armour and Norbert Comeau be appointed as commissioners to the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

 

The motion is carried.

 

Last, but not least, Mr. Jessome.

 

MR. JESSOME: Mr. Chairman, under the Department of Labour and Advanced Education, I move that Ian Austen and Kim Knoll be appointed as members of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design Board of Governors.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

 

The motion is carried.

 

That completes the appointments for the ABCs.

 

At our last meeting we had some correspondence, but I’d like to talk about the agency, board and commission process clarification. There was a question of the order or how we appoint people and how it’s done. You have some information. Does everybody have this? No - okay, the ABCs.

 

With respect to the issue raised in our last meeting regarding clarification of the ABC approval process, I would like to provide the following information:

 

·                     Appointment documents are placed on the Cabinet agenda prior to HR Committee review.

 

·                     Cabinet approves/recommends the appointments. The appointment cannot proceed until the HR Committee has received their names - that’s usually over a seven-day period before.

 

·                     The Executive Council Office forwards the documents to the HR Committee clerk for distribution to the HR Committee.

 

·                     The HR Committee reviews the proposed appointments and either approves or does not approve the names put forth for appointment.

·                     Once approved, the documents are sent back to the Executive Council Office and the appointments are finalized.

 

·                     Should the HR Committee not approve a name or names, the documents are sent back to the Executive Council Office indicating the names have not been approved. The individual is not able to be appointed. The documents are returned to the appropriate department.

 

I think that covers the steps. I believe the discussion on the NSBI appointments - the minister brought it up at the House ahead of schedule before they were approved, but he used the words in Hansard as “proposed members.” So that should clarify that problem - if it was a problem.

 

There were two pieces of correspondence: from the Department of Labour and Advanced Education, a form requested at the October 28th meeting; and the Executive Council Office response to a letter requesting information at the October 28th meeting. Has everybody received that? Are there any questions from that correspondence?

 

Just to inform everyone, the person who wanted to request to appear - we have some information that there will be some discussion with this particular lady from the minister’s office of the department she worked for. As time goes on, maybe we can share some of that. We’ll just leave it at that, if that’s fine.

 

Ms. MacDonald.

 

MS. MACDONALD: Just for clarification, the Minister of the Public Service Commission will oversee this request - is that what I’m understanding?

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: I’m not sure. I don’t think it’s the Minister of the Public Service Commission. I’m not sure who it is, but all I’ve been informed of is that there will be some discussions with the person. (Interruption) In my mind, it was the Health and Wellness Minister.

 

MS. MACDONALD: So the Minister of Health and Wellness will be taking the lead on this?

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes.

 

MS. MACDONALD: Okay, and we will have a report back to the committee?

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: I will endeavour to get a report from the minister.

 

MS. MACDONALD: Thank you.

 

MS. KIM LANGILLE (Legislative Committee Clerk): So are we deferring her request?

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: We are deferring it until we hear back from that.

 

MS. MACDONALD: From the minister.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes.

 

MS. MACDONALD: Thank you.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, the next meeting, I guess - are there any other questions, before we go to the next meeting? (Interruption) Meeting time? Okay, the next meeting presently is set for December 16th, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. That would be Labour and Advanced Education re benefits for firefighters.

 

Ms. Peterson-Rafuse, you have a request to change the time?

 

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: I just wanted to know if there’s any consideration or willingness to start the meetings at 10:00 a.m., just because of the travel. This time of the year it can be really difficult in terms of traffic. It’s not so bad getting to the outskirts but it’s - and then with the winter weather, it would just - the main traffic would be gone by then, if that’s suitable for others. It would make it much easier. (Interruptions)

 

That would be great, I really appreciate that.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Are you making a request maybe for throughout the winter?

 

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Yes, if that’s feasible.

 

MS. LANGILLE: Once the House sits, it becomes more challenging.

 

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: When the House sits it can be changed back, but for the winter months it would make a big difference.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Say for the next three months we’ll do that.

 

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: That would be wonderful, thank you so much.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: December, January and February. (Interruptions)

 

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Thank you very much. I really appreciate that.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, I think that’s advisable and everybody is accepting of that.

 

Are there any other questions? If not, we’ll call the meeting to adjournment. Thank you very much.

 

[The meeting adjourned at 10:42 a.m.]