A coalition of construction employers in various skilled trades are expressing concern, and some are even campaigning to shut down the newly formed Ontario College of Trades.

The main concern is over annual fees, which they say is a multi-million dollar tax grab by the province.

The Grand Valley Construction Association, which represents 680 companies in Waterloo Region and Wellington County recently joined the campaign.

But very few workers seem to know about the college, a new regulatory body put in place by the provincial government.

Lee Campbell specializes in steel stud and drywall work who says he’s never heard of the organization.

“It’s already starting to get over-regulated. You have a lot of white hats coming out to the jobs right as it is, and it’s making it tougher to get stuff done.”

The college will begin taking members early next year from workers in 157 skilled trades, but fees will be mandatory for 22 trades, mostly in the construction industry.

But the coalition is against the organization. They say the college will collect roughly $84 million annually in fees, but it’s not clear what the money will be used for.

Martha George is the head of the Grand Valley Construction Association, which represents 680 local construction companies.

She agrees with the coalition opposed to the fees, which calls them a tax on skilled trades, and wonders about the value of the college.

“We need a compelling reason to know why we even need the College of Trades.”

The CEO of the college, Bob Guthrie, says there’s a need for an independent body to regulate and promote skilled trades in Ontario.

He also insists the fees will be the lowest compared to other professional groups.

“The fees that are collected potentially finance the operation of the college, and those fees will provide services, a whole range of services, to members.”

But Campbell says he’s happy with the system the way it is, “For me, I don’t have that many years left, I wouldn’t join myself.”

The coalition working to scrap the college represents 85,000 workers.

According to the college, they are fully aware that few workers understand or even know what it is about, and a campaign is in the works for the fall.