Roofer’s contested $1,000 fine raises labour-mobility questions
The Ottawa Citizen News 2008-02-23
Orléans man flagged for working on friend’s house in Gatineau
When Glenn McNamara did a roofing job for an Aylmer friend in July 2004, someone spotted the Ontario plates on his truck and informed Quebec authorities that there was an unlicensed roofer in town.
Four years later, Mr. McNamara, 52, who has been working as a roofer for 30 years, faces a $1,000 fine for operating a construction business in Quebec without a permit, even though he has never appeared in court.
Jocelyn Dumais, president of the Association pour le droit au travail, a right-to-work group, said Ontario construction workers and contractors are still being harassed and charged with breaking Quebec law despite the interprovincial agreement.
« I hoped that the political agreement on labour mobility two years ago would bring some common sense to the Quebec government, but they are still fining people, » Mr. Dumais said.
« None of the differences between the two provinces have been resolved.
« The agreement said it would make it easier for workers to obtain cards, but people are still being charged. There really is no mobility of labour because this is the only province that has such restrictive labour laws. »2008-02-23
Mr. McNamara, who lives in Orléans, said a 2006 agreement between Ontario and Quebec was supposed to resolve a decades-old dispute about labour mobility, but the deal isn’t working.
Glenn McNamara is a roofer who was charged and found guilty of violating Quebec construction law when he worked on a friend’s roof in Aylmer. Mr. McNamara said he wrote the Quebec government saying ‘it wasn’t their business to interfere in the personal affairs’ between himself and his friend.View Larger Image View Larger Image
Glenn McNamara is a roofer who was charged and found guilty of violating Quebec construction law when he worked on a friend’s roof in Aylmer. Mr. McNamara said he wrote the Quebec government saying ‘it wasn’t their business to interfere in the personal affairs’ between himself and his friend.Chris Mikula,
The agreement was intended to make it easier for Ontario and Quebec construction workers to work in each other’s provinces.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said in 2006 that the dispute had been « a thorn in the relationship of our two provinces for too long » and promised the interprovincial agreement would end the cross-border construction wars.
Mr. McNamara said he should never have been charged in August 2005 because he was helping his friend, Dan Cooper, and not operating a business. He said the Régie du bâtiment du Québec, which regulates the province’s construction industry, threatened to charge Mr. Cooper for allowing an unlicensed tradesman to work on his house.
« I wrote the Quebec government saying it wasn’t their business to interfere in the personal affairs between Dan and myself, » Mr. McNamara said.
« The notice to appear in court did not arrive at my house because it got lost in the mail or was sent to the wrong address, so I did not appear in court. »
Mr. McNamara was on vacation in December 2006 when the case came to court; he was found guilty in absentia.
« Last year, I got a notice from a collection agency saying I owed them $1,000. I told them what I thought of the process and they sent the matter back to Quebec City. » Mr. McNamara said he won’t pay the fine because a second trial has been set for March when he will be on vacation in Nicaragua.
Marjolaine Veillette, a spokeswoman for the Régie du bâtiment, said an Ontario contractor repairing a friend’s house in Quebec still requires a licence, which costs $616. Contractors face fines of $700 to $1,400 if they are caught working without a licence to prove their competence.
Contractors must prove they have been registered with Ontario’s new home warranty program for at least three years, have more than five years of experience and have been registered with the Ontario government for at least five years.
Individual construction workers can pay the Commission de la construction du Québec $10 to have their competency certificates from Ontario registered in Quebec.
Commission spokesman André Martin said Quebec has registered more than 1,600 out-of-province construction workers since 2006. © The Ottawa Citizen 2008