Nova Scotia to increase fines, step up enforcement around skilled trades

Nova Scotia is increasing fines and stepping up enforcement measures around the skilled trades in order to ensure a more level playing field in the construction industry.

Proposed amendments to the Apprenticeship and Trade Qualifications Act would give Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency inspectors the authority to inspect sites at any time, and make it an offence to breach their orders.

The maximum fine would also be raised from $5,000 to $10,000 for a first offence and from $10,000 to $50,000 for a second.

Labour Minister Labi Kousoulis says the enforcement measures are aimed at a "small subset" of companies who are trying to work around the system by hiring cheaper labourers when they should be using skilled tradespersons.

He says the changes come at the urging of the sector.

Duncan Williams, president of the Construction Association of Nova Scotia, says the black market is costing companies that do invest heavily in safety, training, apprenticeship and equipment.