Help Stop the Proposed OPFA Changes

 

We have built this page in hopes that you will help us stop the Ontario Professional Foresters Association (OPFA) from moving forward with their proposed changes to the Professional Foresters Act, 2000 and its Regulation 145/01 by the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Our best attempt to answer your questions can be found here »

ISAO Urgent Notice

Let the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry know that these changes cannot go through!

 

The proposed changes would drastically change the way arborists do their jobs.

To perform daily tasks, certified arborists would have to be supervised by a member of the Ontario Professional Foresters Association (OPFA), join the OPFA, or run the risk of being prosecuted. This regulatory burden would add an unnecessary layer of cost and complexity to our work and diminish public confidence in our profession. This is the last thing any small business needs, especially in these difficult times. The proposed changes would give OPFA jurisdiction over all residential, commercial and rural properties where we currently provide arboricultural services.

 

“These proposed changes by the Ontario Professional Foresters Association affect every arborist in Ontario from the ground worker, up to the top estimator, the top consultant, or the municipal arborist in charge of forestry for large municipalities.”
— Mike Watson, ISA Ontario Past President, Director and Education Chair

 

Taking the certified arborist exemption out of the regulation would also impact municipalities in Ontario that currently have well-qualified certified arborists on staff.

These people would be at risk of losing their jobs as their municipalities would have to choose between replacing them with an RPF or municipalities having to incur greater costs to hire an RPF to oversee the work of their arborist.  These additional costs are not in the best interest of the public. The proposed changes to the Regulation are an attempt to have the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry collude with OPFA in the restriction of fair competition for jobs and contracts, providing an exclusive advantage for OPFA members. This is contrary to the best interests of the public and the urban forest.

 

“Proposed changes from the Ontario Professional Foresters Association is not only going to affect the field of Arboriculture. It’s also going to affect ecologists, biologists, landscapers and really, anybody that works with trees. This is huge.”
— Eric Batty, Brooklin Tree Care / ISA Ontario Director 

 

What can YOU do about it?

Send an email or call the OPFA, your local MPP, Doug Ford and the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry.

 

We need to be one big, unified voice!

ISA Ontario has been working around the clock to deal with this matter. We need you to do your part. We’ve prepared an email for you to personalize.

 

Just be clear, we have no issue at all with RPFs (Registered Professional Foresters). We highly respect them, and all other industries involved in the urban forest. It takes many professionals to make this system work.
— Ken Gillies, ISA Ontario President

 

Take the text below, copy it and paste it into an email.

Here are the email addresses: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

 

 

Dear Hon. Doug Ford, Hon. John Yakabuski, Brock Vandrick, Jake Sikora, Mr. Fred Pinto, Hon. Steve Clark, Hon. Jeff Yurek;

As a certified arborist and Ontarian, I am writing to voice my concerns over a proposal to change the Ontario Regulation 145/01 under the Professional Foresters Act, 2000 (the Act).  The proposal removes the exemption of certified arborists from the Professional Foresters Act, which we have had for over 20 years. This proposal would radically impact my business, which has been supporting my family and community for many years.

 — PERSONALIZE YOUR EMAIL HERE — follow with a couple of sentences, if necessary, of more individualized content: name & company, credentials (ISA certified?, TRAQ? Ontario Qualified, years of experience in the industry,  etc….

The proposed changes would drastically change the way arborists do their jobs. To perform daily tasks, certified arborists would have to be supervised by a member of the Ontario Professional Foresters Association (OPFA), join the OPFA, or run the risk of being prosecuted.  This regulatory burden would add an unnecessary layer of cost and complexity to our work and diminish public confidence in our profession.  This is the last thing any small business needs, especially in these difficult times.

Additionally, I am shocked that our organization, the International Society of Arboriculture, Ontario Chapter, (ISA Ontario), of which I am a proud member, was never notified or consulted about these proposed changes. In fact, it seems that no stakeholders were consulted, except the OPFA whose members would benefit tremendously from this unnecessary change.

The proposed changes would give OPFA jurisdiction over all residential, commercial and rural properties where we currently provide arboricultural services.  This would severely restrict my ability to provide the prescriptions and treatments necessary for the care and maintenance of these tree populations.

As an ISA certified arborist in Ontario, I undergo years of continuous training and education to maintain my certification and I do not require the oversight of an RPF to perform the duties within my scope of practice.

Arborists in Ontario already have a regulated and defined scope of practice, as was listed in the 2017 OPFA “Information Sheet”. Furthermore, since we are currently governed by a regulatory body, arboriculture is, by definition, a regulated profession (Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2009, S.O. 2009, c. 22).  ISA certified arborists and Ontario qualified arborists perform to the same standards and practices.  The public recognize and expect a high degree of professionalism and expertise from certified arborists in Ontario.

Taking the ‘certified arborist’ exemption out of the regulation would also impact municipalities in Ontario that currently have well-qualified certified arborists on staff.  These people would be at risk of losing their jobs as their municipalities would have to choose between replacing them with an RPF or municipalities having to incur greater costs to hire an RPF to oversee the work of their arborist.  These additional costs are not in the best interest of the public.

ISA Ontario is a component chapter of the larger international body, ISA, which enjoys a rich heritage as a scientific and educational organization.  The Ontario Chapter currently has over 1000 members, while the international membership is almost 25,000 members, — the world’s largest professional arboriculture organization.   The 1600 ISA Certified arborists in Ontario (not all certified arborists practising in Ontario, are members of ISA Ontario) are recognized as qualified, competent, and safe tree care professionals who are sought out by the public and government organizations alike.  Our industry matters.

ISA Ontario is involved in many significant and varied projects throughout the province including best industry practices, workforce development projects (sponsored by SkillsAdvance Ontario), arborist education and training, and public education and awareness.  Our membership is diverse and includes commercial, municipal and utility arborists as well as educators, students, landscape contractors, landscape architects, ecologists, biologists and grounds managers. This diversity strengthens a growing ISA Ontario.

The proposed changes to the Regulation are an attempt to have the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry collude with OPFA in the restriction of fair competition for jobs and contracts, providing an exclusive advantage for OPFA members.  This is contrary to the best interests of the public and the urban forest.

ISA Ontario has obtained and distributed a legal opinion outlining the alarming impact of the proposed change.  I have attached it to highlight the severity of the current situation in our essential industry.

Yours sincerely,

Firstname Lastname
Company Name
City
ISA Certification #

Please attached this arborist opinion letter to your email »

 

“ISA Ontario isn’t here to pronounce dominion over the urban forests. We and the Registered Professional Foresters (RPFs) have a scope of practice, to each our own, and we are experts in our own areas. That’s what we need — to work together within the urban environment for the best interests of the public and the urban forest.” 
— Rebecca Lord, ISA Ontario Executive Director

 

ISA Ontario is here to help!

Please see letter links below, and contact the ISAO office for other letter formats:

Please note:  the ‘arborist legal opinion’ below, should accompany ALL letters that are sent out.

 

“We are entering our 72nd year of conferences at ISA Ontario. We’ve spent 72 years educating our members — specifically on urban trees in the environment in their care. The organization has been around for almost 100 years under other names as well. So, we have a long history of dealing with the urban trees in the urban environment. This is our industry, and we need your help to save your jobs.”
— Mike Watson, ISAO Past President, Director and Education Chair 

 

Learn how YOU can impact the Proposed OPFA Changes — Watch the recorded webinar NOW!

ISAO held a FREE webinar at 6:00 PM EST on January 26, 2021. Watch the recorded webinar on our YouTube channel. Make sure you click on the SUBSCRIBE button to stay updated on ISA Ontario YouTube posts.

Urgent Notice - YouTube Link

 

 

“Just be clear, we have no issue at all with RPFs (Registered Professional Foresters). We highly respect them, and all other industries involved in the urban forest. It takes many professionals to make this system work.”
— Ken Gillies, Gillies Tree Care / ISA Ontario President

Update: January 24th, 2021

Our OPFA task force has met numerous times over the last week to discuss how to move forward.
As part of these talks we reached out to OPFA to gain some clarity on the situation.  OPFA has asked all concerned parties to take part in the Public Consultation by 28 January.  They want to hear your voice.  We’ve also initiated talks with other stakeholders and interested parties.
Our #1 priority is to inform arborists in Ontario of the public consultation, and help their voices be heard.

Update: January 17th, 2021

ISA Ontario has assembled a team of experts from our industry to consult on this matter.  The task force consists of:

  • Ian Bruce
  • Mark Graves
  • Peter Wynnyczuk
  • Steve Robinson
  • Philip van Wassenaer, B.SC., MFC
  • Ken Gillies
  • Mike Greer
  • Rebecca Lord
The task force met for the first time on Friday, January 15th.
We have reached out to OPFA and have a scheduled meeting with their representatives this week.
We will be drafting a template letter that members can send out as part of the OPFA public consultation process.

Members of the ISA Ontario Board of Directors got on camera to spread the news about this issue

Watch the video on our YouTube channel. Subscribe to see further updates!
Urgent Notice - YouTube Link
Update: January 14th, 2021
Over the next few days, ISA Ontario will be hiring a consultant to consider this matter in more depth. We will update this page with further information on how you can help.