Welcome to CIIA Newsletter

Prep for the Future report review

Due to it's funding limitations, the Prep for the Future study in 2001 was a  HRDC and CARS Council funded study to look at Human Resources issues in the industry and not industry-wide challenges.

Let's look at that report and highlight what work has, in fact, been done to move those recommendations to fulfillment.


1) Recommendation-identify and promote best-in-class operating and management practices across the industry (store by store success, not industry-driven)

Certainly since the report was released, many shops have undertaken improvements in automated estimating and management reporting.  Standard Operating Procedures have been put into place, including our Environmental Standards that our association had mandated for shops, our association introduced ISO 9000 and ISO9001 programs for shops with the Federal Business Development Bank and enjoyed the privilege of having the only ISO14001 shop as a member. Complaint level on automotive service has dropped from the number one complaint to number six. Apprentice sign-up numbers continue to be consistent.

2) Recommendation-Work to ensure more consistent compliance with employment H&S, and environmental regulations by those in industry (good)

Massive numbers of successful initiatives here.  From apprenticeship rules and advancement changes (like grants and incentives) to a rewriting of environmental law in Canada and Ontario and GVRD, to encourage compliancy(from EASR and CofA revision) to exemption from TDA regulations, to simplified and easier programming. Over 500 shops were environmentally certified in the last year alone.)  Health and safety programs were enhanced(like our WHMIS cd-rom program for up to 19 persons that is free to members), the 2009 and 2010 blitz program of 820 shops and more programs and inspections to help shops were  introduced.  We have the  highest H & S compliance rates ever, particularly ON and SK, generating a lower WSIB premium for shops. New employment compliance programs have been introduced, including  a new report on worker safety. Worked on mobile operator compliancy, First Nations programs,  implemented low -VOC CCME standards changes for industry and worked with  municipalities to better arrange municipal emission reporting programs.

3) Recommendation-Develop partnership relationship with stakeholders to facilitate regulatory compliance.(good regionally)

Had good relations with new car dealership associations in meeting compliance challenges, and various agencies and other Ministries.  However, industry stakeholders, including some banner groups took a "we will wait until we are ordered" stand and many declined to co-operate.  In a number of cases, compliancy relationships were hastened by enforcement action or special pricing arrangements. Recently, shops are reporting that banner groups in Canada are deliberately not asking compliancy questions of new applicants to their franchise groups and only hiring non-qualified staff in order to lessen wage costs.

 4) Recommendation-Develop and implement a communications strategy to change external perceptions of the industry (fair)

Various industry partners and associations across the country have been advancing this well.  From positive announcements on shop openings and technology updates, through to donations of vehicles to needy families and community awards and activities, the message of a professional industry is being distributed. A number of industry periodicals identified this issue as a major focus for them but only some work was done.


1) Recommendation-Improve linkages with schools and colleges (much more needs to be done)

A significant volume of work has been accomplished from new school tours at community colleges with apprenticeship programs, through co-op, OYAP, other provinces, and curriculum modification to removing Grade 12 curriculum and replace with first year apprenticeship curriculum, special donations of products and services to secondary schools, is significant.  Donation programs exist with the associations to assist in improving linkages, but are often not generally supported by the industry, without significant effort.

2) Recommendation-Identify and apply where appropriate, best practice approaches used in other industries (good but only regionally successful)

Though OYAP, co-op, apprenticeship meetings. IEC's and PAC's the industry has learned some of the best approaches and certainly benefitted by the unfortunate errors made by other sectors.  We have learned from CCDA and others that skills competitions fail to generate applicants in other trades, that mobile display units or programs tend to be ineffective, and linked-in program such as mandatory certification or channelling insurance payments just to compliant facilities or those meeting standards has worked in other jurisdictions.

 3) Recommendation-Work to understand potential applicant's perceptions and improve those perceptions (good)

Much work has been done in this area.  Much of the industry still believes the challenge is attracting new entries without looking at retention issues (HRDC Manual 2001). We now know that the majority of autobody apprentices drop out of the industry between the time they sign the agreement and the scheduling of apprenticeship training, not while they are in school. Apprentice signup numbers are consistent. Many groups have worked hard to enhance the applicant's perception, however, recent data suggest this may not be important and that applicants enter the trade largely as a result of  personal contact and gather information  from those contacts rather than an advertised or promoted program.

 4) Recommendation-Develop and distribute career information and recruitment products targeting potential entrants. (good regionally)

The industry did design and distribute over 4,000 copies of the Art of Earning-a cd-rom that highlighted good paying employment and industry potential opportunities.  Grants and incentives, some nationally, some by province, were promoted heavily in central Canada and on www.apprenticesearch.com and www.skilledtrades.ca and through CAF(Canadian Apprenticeship Forum) etc. Industry Education Councils and youth apprenticeship programs have provided significant information to potential applicants. Some provinces have support programs for these promotional activities while others do not.  

5) Recommendation-Develop an assessment tool to help potential entrants determine if they have the right skills ...(good)

Equivalency programs and inter-provincial and inter-year tests and the CARS Essential Skills and other programs provide opportunities for helping those potential applicants.  Similarly, out-of-country, co-op, OYAP and other entry programs have equivalency standard in most jurisdictions.

6) Recommendation-Encourage development and/or adoption of better human resources and business management skills (poor)

Various provinces have turned down options to solve this.  Traditionally, apprenticeship (expect the General Motors ASEP program, does not provide management skills and this continues to be problematic. Paint companies are doing some work with their clients to improve HR and business management skills

7) Recommendation-Find ways to improve compensation structures/benefits (poor)

A number of suggestions that have received no traction have been advanced- company or industry pensions, a skilled trades employment pooling fund, extra $1 per hour for apprentice work, payroll tax etc., but none have been further advanced.


1) Recommendation-Work with other key stakeholders to review the content of apprenticeship and certification programs (good)

Five year reviews of curriculum continue in most provinces.  Red Seal review is current. A number of school boards have replaced their ancient shop curriculum with an apprenticeship level 1 programs, giving students great advantages in being one year ahead. Ontario is just now updating their autobody collision damage repairer curriculum.
2) Recommendation-Work with colleges and industry stakeholders to support professional development opportunities  and improve training equipment(excellent only in some provinces) Some jurisdictions have set up donor programs(www.ciia.com) or worked with provincial apprenticeship enhancement funds to make this happen. Other jurisdictions appear not to care. Associations have worked with provincial Apprenticeship Enhancement Funds to better allocate provincial funds (in excess of 6 million dollars) to adding equipment and instructor training.  CIIA arranges for some instructors to attend all the training at the NACE Conference each year at no charge to the College. This saving is used as leverage to obtain approvals from the College for time off and expense costs.


 3) Recommendation-Develop consistent standards for pre-apprenticeship training(no inter-provincial discussion) 

Often these programs are offered under contracts which are non-consistent and quality varies by TDA. Lately, some are being monitored better, The number of graduates who move on to ABCDR apprenticeship often depends on the quality of the agency involved and their level of interest and concern.  Because pre-apprenticeship courses tend by their funding sources to target unemployed and marginal youth populations, numbers of applicants fail to meet employer standards of performance. In some jurisdictions, pre-apprenticeship is used as a supplement to standard apprenticeship. In smaller provinces the class becomes a necessity for the colleges as normal apprenticeship numbers are small and the class would not have a minimum number seat purchase by the province. Sask. for instance, guarantees SIAST a total of 12 seats whether students are enrolled or not. The AYCE pre-apprenticeship program and others offer trades equivalency and some guarantee in the contract, that all graduates will have a signed agreement with an employer.  Others demand a continuing tracking of graduates and use those retention factors in determining future contract amounts.

4) Recommendation-Seek consistent trades certification requirement across Canada (excellent)  The standard in Canada, because of Red Seal activities
tend to be consistent in the jurisdictions.  Ontario is updating their trade standards in Feb/Mar 2013, with an eye towards learning how to repair collision avoidance technology. Because of its federal designation, B.C uses this as a trades standard and the standard continues to reflect increasingly available technologies.



1) Recommendation-Encourage development of management skills training for shop operators

This issue has not been well advanced, although some coatings firms do provide this training. Often, the industry's managers feel that everyone but them need this training. Management training was turned down by most provinces for apprenticeship inclusion although added to the ASEP General Motors course at the colleges. CAI in Barrie offers many programs as does access to the Trillium Association. Two collision repair associations in Canada offer management workshops and training.

  2) Recommendation-Improve access to ongoing training programs by using distance learning and other innovative delivery methods. 

Online learning has been advanced as a newer, easier, cheaper technology, but few use it.  I-CAR's Canada's online training was not offered for over two years in this country, while  Canadians were banned from accessing it from the U.S.  HARA/CIIA's online training courses are now being deleted by the supplier due to lack of interest.  New training methods like M-learn can hold promise for very specific job functions   Rickie Leos' Predictive Estimating may solve some of these training issues in 2013. New car data sharing through programs like the  CASIS Vehicle Security Professional program are also helping through electronic data sharing with an anticipated 340,000 paid transactions this year between Canada and the U.S.


1) Recommendation-Develop a model national accreditation framework (done)Five different functional programs for accreditation (all very similar) and  based on the 1988 ACAR standards were given to CCIF in 2005 for a review.  These base standards have remained consistent for 25 years, and are the basis for all other programs. These accreditation programs included ICBC, MPIC and SGI as well as the CISCO and Metro Toronto programs.  An attempt by some to add 7 more high cost standards was poorly received across the country and viewed as an elite program development not suitable for a "normal" shop.

 2) Recommendation-Work with others to build accreditation support across Canada(very difficult nationally as the trade is regulated provincially) Because standards vary from province to province, building a national program is very difficult.  As well, some accreditation programs are designed to be so capital intensive that "normal" shop operators would not have the funds to meet those standards.  Typically these new "high cost” standards are driven by shops that want to ensure that their competition is hampered by these new standards, leaving only the more capital intensive shops to gain the benefits. A new federally guaranteed loan program is now in place to help meet capital challenges.

The illusion of a skilled trades autobody shortage

Large numbers of interested, motivated young people are enthused about the auto body collision damage repairer trade and sign apprenticeship contracts each year across Canada.   With their help, the industry has no skills shortages.  BUT,   Over 70% of them won't make it to their first time at school!!

The work to date shows that:

1) There is no shortage of new apprentices entering the trade (signing agreements)
2) Efforts to sign up new apprentices are showing reasonably consistent numbers for the last five years
3) There is a massive attrition rate between signing up a Auto Body Collision Damage Repairer (ABCDR)  apprentice and the apprentice actually arriving at the Training Delivery Agent or community college for training
4) There are significant differences in volumes of apprentices in school between provinces

I am doing a short study/review with CCDA (Canadian Council Directors of Apprenticeship) members across the country and asking them for their numbers on autobody/collision repair (ABCDR) apprentices.  We know how many graduate (CofQ successful completion) each year in each province.  We also have data that shows us that once they physically get to the TDA (Training Delivery Agent), chances are good they will stay in the trade. 

Different employers perhaps and sometimes frequently, but still in the trade.   We are also asking students(through their instructors) in the system, for their motivation and reasons for entering the trade. Were they family, knew someone in the trade, were mentored, had secondary school experience or went to a trade show or skills competition, etc.?  

TDAs (usually community colleges) tell us consistently that attrition rates are nominal and they are the same in other trades in motive power (i.e.- AST and Truck and Coach), somewhere in the 15-20% range over the 3-4 years of intake at the school. Some provinces are reporting a zero attrition rate which would identify returning apprentices who took a year off, for instance.  

But the provinces show huge loss numbers in these autobody progams.  

Ontario for instance shows a total of 314 new apprentice contracts for autobody in the year(including pre-apprentice), yet the colleges tell us that only 132 went to class. Ontario's total numbers are much higher because of Centennial's pre-app, and London's pre-app class.( Not included is Toronto's fee-payer class of 82 students.) Alberta's Apprenticeship Branch advises 276 first year signed apprentices in autobody but only 74 went to class -14 in Calgary and 60 in Edmonton.   

Alberta charged 43 collision repair shops last year with failure to send new apprentices to school.  Autobody was the highest number of charges laid for a sector.  

Saskatchewan reports only 12 showed up for school (and the Ministry had to work hard to get that)out of 47 signed. Sask.reports total number of apprentices dropping from 127 to 120.  

Manitoba's data and it is very simlar to Sask. Manitoba reports 55 signed apprentices with only 14 going to school.  Manitoba's number of apprentices, unlike Sask., is going up from 177 last year to 186 this year.  

British Columbia's figures are currently not available due to provincial privacy and FOI concerns.  

In eastern Canada, we find the same problem.  Nova Scotia reports some eighteen registrants for the trade but typically only 3 or 4 show up for class.  This year, because the trade has now been deemed "restricted", attendance numbers are up to 9, according to their training college instructor. Nova Scotia reports a total of 66 apprentices.  

From the data, the problem issue is becoming much clearer.   We do NOT have a skilled trades shortage in ABCDR (Auto body collision damage repairer)- there are lots of motivated, eager, intelligent young people signing up for the autobody trade. Ontario alone shows 141 new signed apprentices from April to September of this year.  That's one new autobody apprentice every day-seven days a week.  

The problem is that we are losing some 60-70 percent of them prior to school starting.  That's why Ontario shows a 80% failure rate for the trade of ABCDR. They are looking at the number of contracts signed against CofQ completion.  If they looked at physical TDA entry against completion writing, the numbers would be in the 10-15% range. No one wants to talk about this problem.  

As long as we have people who get paid to tell us of skills shortages and civil servants who get remunerated and assessed on the number of new apprentice contracts signed, not on graduation, then these false perceptions will continue. However, the work done by IEC's, youth apprentice groups, www.apprenticesearch.com, CAF, CCDA and co-op programs has worked to maintain the interest in the trade.  

So, strangely to some, the answer to the shop-level skills trades shortage is not awareness or importation of skilled folks from abroad, but doing a better job of retention, employer assistance early in the process, getting that young person to school sooner and dealing with employer release.  

That is where the focus should be.  If that problem could be solved by even 50%, it would mean an additional 192 additional ABCDR technicians per year just in Ontario and Alberta alone and that growth would solve any technician shortage complaints.  

We already know why that young person leaves their employer, from the IEC/HRDC/HARA study on skilled trades retention, and the discussion should now be -since everyone has done a proveable good job on attraction, we now need to do a similar job on retention. Putting dollars into awareness programs when we are losing over 70% of the apprentices attracted to the trade, is a massive misuse of funds.  

One issue that keeps popping up is that it would appear only 30% of eligible collision repair facilites owners even apply for the $10,000 apprenticeship grant to offset costs. These monies could well be used for retention cost reduction and could keep apprentices better employed.  

From a practical viewpoint if a province sees a 80% failure rate in their data,(with autobody being the highest attrition rate in their figures) why should they continue to fund seat purchases?

Ontario College of Trades new autobody training standards

I am hoping you can help me put together a team of about 8 Subject Matter experts to revise the existing Training Standard for the Auto Body and Collision Damage Repairer trade. Ideally, these individuals would need to meet the following criteria:

  • Hold a Red Seal certificate
  • Be “on the tools” (i.e. currently practicing the trade)
  • Managers/supervisors/lead hands currently supervising apprentices and ‘signing-off’ the training standards
  • All major areas of the trade are covered
  • Individuals represent all Ontario geographic areas (i.e. north, west, east and the Greater Toronto Area)
  • Individuals represent small, medium and large organizations (for e.g., automotive dealers, small shops, etc.)

 For this work, we don’t want any instructors, these individuals will be used to revise Curriculum standards when the time comes.

I am hoping to begin this project early in 2012 (Feb/Mar) but as you know, scheduling dates that work for everyone will be a challenge.

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. I will also be asking a few other individuals to get some recommendations.

Thank you!


New environmental regulation changes

Shops that have applied to the province of Ontario Ministry of Environment Environmental Activities Sector Registry for auto refinish shops (some 490 shops) were advised in writing by the Ministry that an annual update on their file was required, after October 30, 2012.  This update would involve the shop using their passcode and ID Number to self-identify and to highlight if any changes regarding their emissions had occurred and needed to be reported.

We are pleased to advise you that shops no longer need to do this after a regulation change in November 2012, did away with that reporting.

Shops must still report if they have made major changes to the shop that affect emissions (for instance -adding another additional spray booth), As a rule of thumb however, shops with at least 55 meters distance from their indoor fans and exhaust stack to their nearest residential lotline can make this administrative change easily and at this time, with no extra fee, a savings of some $600-$1500 over the previous format.

Please call the association with any questions at 1 866 309 4272.

Shops that have a old application submitted already to the Ministry, should call your association.  For instance we have an application that was submitted correctly in late 2011 but only reviewed in January 2013. Since the rules have changed since filing, the application has now failed and must be done again.  If this situation applies to you, please call the association and we will speak to the Director at MoE.

Also, if you are one of the shops that failed to met the fee cut-off deadline of November 18, 2012 and were rejected because of failures on the web site that the Ministry uses, please contact the Association. Although MoE has declined to review these cases, Service Ontario has authorized that no penalty will apply due to their web failures.  So it is to your advantage if you are one of these shops, to contact us ASAP.

Our number is 1 866 309 4272 and our help site is www.autobodyhelp.ca.

No Charge WHMIS training package for your staff for member shops

Your membership renewal or new membership with CIIA makes you eligible for a gift- a proven WHMIS training solution. It's free and more importantly created by the Workplace Safety and Prevention Services, the experts in health and safety training.

  • Train all current and new employees over a 12-month period, irrespective of employee turnover
  • Train at your convenience, workplace or home, accomodating individual or group sessions
  • Build your own internal WHMIS training capacity
  • Provide tools for both generic and site-specific training
  • Deliver job-specific WHMIS testing


CHRYSLER air bag diagnosis/installation manual for member shops

Dear Member:

As part of the year 2013 member benefit package, your association is providing to all members the Chrysler Group LLC Supplemental Restraint Sysems Post Deployment Inspection and Replacement Matrix. This free member guide covers all airbags on Chrysler products from 2007-2013, including the Avenger and 200 models.

Also included is the Chrysler Collision Bulletins for Welded Sheet Metal Repairs and Replacement.

Another benefit of shop membership in CIIA.

Volkswagen provides more assistance

We have recently been in touch with our contacts at VW, and attached are all of the current collision position statements that VW currently has published.

Volkswagen Collision Repair Standards



Recycled Parts

Refinish Procedures for Clear coat Application

Steering Suspention and Drive Axel Parts Replacement

Structural Unibody Component Replacement

Supplemental Airbag Component Replacement

Unibody Alignmentand Repair

Vehicle Body Sectioning

Wheel Repair and Reconditioning

Wiring Harness

Vehicle Security Professional announcement

Vehicle Security Professional (VSP) System Launches in Canada.

VSP allows automotive and locksmith professionals to qualify for access to vehicle security information necessary to complete certain repairs

October 24, 2012, Ottawa, ON – The Canadian automotive aftermarket industry associations that partnered with the vehicle manufacturers' associations to create the Canadian Automotive Service Information Standard (CASIS) in 2009 announced the official launch of a major new component of the program last week. Read the full press release here.

FORD 2013 collision repair cd-rom available

Another advantge of membership in your collision repair trade association CIIA.  All new and renewing members will receive the NEW 2013 FORD collision technical cd-rom at no charge.

Be able to diagnose and work on Ford vehicles faster and with greater accuracy.

For membership information call us at 1  866 309 4272


Industry presentation to the Ontario Anti-Fraud Insurance Task Force

Ontario’s Anti-Fraud Task Force
Monday August 27, 2012

Thank you for the invitation to speak with you today.

I am John Norris, and I am Executive Director of the provincial collision repair and auto body and auto refinishing industry trade association, CIIA--Collision Industry Information Assistance.  With over 300 collision repair facilities as members, we originally started out and I think Mr. Cooke will remember back in the days of the Ontario Collision Repair Standards Act, as the Hamilton District Autobody Repair Association or HARA.

As an association for the industry we provide training, compliance assistance, update technical information, better business practices and work hard to encourage an industry to be professional and competent.

We operate two web sites and electronic newsletters for the industry including the www.ciia.com web site with 4.2 million hits last year, and the www.autobodyhelp.ca web site, which is a compliance help web site for the industry in co-operation with the Ontario Ministry of Environment.

We also work closely with various government Ministries, providing services and programs that help the province and our member shops and customers.  We tested the current environmental approval program which is a much simpler and easier process for environmental approvals to a successful use in Regulation.  We help shops meet or exceed their environmental reporting requirements with the City of Toronto’s new CHEMtrac reporting emissions program.

We sponsor a significant number of training programs such as  satellite-type location planned training, pre-apprenticeship, fee payer and work with standardized apprenticeship in Ontario  and have converted curriculums in three high school districts  to a college level one apprenticeship auto body program.

In September, we will launching our latest web site at www.vehiclesecurityprofessional.ca, which is the web site for the CASIS (Canadian Automotive Service Information Standard) agreement security access for the automotive repair industry.  Much of the security information that shops require for specific vehicle repairs can only come from the manufacturer, and many shops were bypassing that process and obtaining repair data from less than legitimate sources, often in eastern-bloc countries.
Although car insurers do not insist that their repair facility obtain security repair data legitimately, we do, and the individual and the repair facility must be accredited, which includes criminal record check, prior to the shop receiving vehicle security data.

The Vehicle Security Professional (VSP) program is a data exchange system conceived and designed cooperatively by automakers and the independent auto repair community, in co-operation with the insurance and law-enforcement communities.  It allows the accredited aftermarket technician or approved locksmith to access security-sensitive information related to the vehicle. (i.e.- key codes, immobilizer resets and similar types of information).  It is expected that the Vehicle Security Professional accredited technician will also be able to access information to repair accident avoidance technology systems in the future.  Those systems have a potential of being able to reduce accidents (and then claims and injuries) by up to 81%.  This would be a huge technological advantage for drivers, and a vast reduction in insurance claims and liabilities.  Because our system in linked with the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s Investigative Services group, IBC can also use the system to track who had keys made or received security information that was used in car thefts and the program has already shown great success in cutting car thefts and increasing arrests and convictions. 

The challenge now is to make sure insurers recognize the anti-fraud and anti-theft advantages and convince more repair shops and dealerships to use it more frequently. This program would have a huge impact on reducing the number of stolen vehicles, reducing insurance costs dramatically and fraud costs.
In a presentation recently to the Ontario Standing Committee on Economic Affairs and Finance on the subject of auto insurance, I highlighted a number of fraud activities in the insurance-paid vehicle repair industry. 

I was hoping to again highlight those challenges and provide some further recommendations for your next report.


In December 2011, Ontario collision repair shops were repairing a vehicle for an insurance company for 1% less than the industry provided that repaired car in December 2004.  I don’t believe the towing industry nor the medical assessment industry will advise you that their prices are lower than they were seven years ago.

As you might expect, many collision repair shops are closing as they become more and more unprofitable as actual labour rates do not increase enough to cover increased business costs.

While this trend continues this year, it also means that those shops, may be more likely to look at other creative solutions to staying profitable.  Those can include, improper billings (billing for new original equipment manufacturer’s parts but using aftermarket or used or stolen parts), and paying fees or kickbacks to tow operators in order to have damaged vehicles dropped off at their shop.

This “chase” tow operator may work for the shop or may be a roving commission-based free agent that then tries to “sell” the repair to the highest bidding shop.

Our association has been active in efforts to stop this abuse and obligate collision repair facilities to operate within ethical and legal guidelines.

What can be done to combat fraud “on the street”?

Just as this Task Force is looking at a Designated Administrative Authority for the towing industry, it already has one that can be used for towing and collision shops in the Collision Repair Standards Act (copy attached).  This Act, which was supported by the Insurance Bureau of Canada and major insurers in 2002, would force ALL collision repair facilities to “register” and all facilities must meet a minimum legal compliance standard and equipment standard.  That standard can easily include the prohibition on paying referral fees to tow firms or “chasers” and the Unfair and Deceptive Practices section of Reg. 7/00 now allows action to be taken against those shops as required.

A further recommendation is to copy what the City of Hamilton does regarding towing issues, which is an update over the Halton Region program you may have looked at earlier.

In Hamilton (copy attached), only police authorized tow firms can tow from “security” accidents and they tow by specific geographic areas under “rotation”  outlined in their police agreement.  They pay a fee to the police department to monitor the process and handle any inquiries.  If they chase-they are off the police list and will not be called to tow again.

Hamilton, however, still had a problem with the non-security accidents, the “fender-benders” that make up the majority of vehicle collision police calls.  To solve this, the City of Hamilton first passed an anti-solicitation bylaw that prohibited persons from obtaining business at accident scenes.  Then they just recently, instituted tow truck and driver licensing, that set standards, as all tow trucks must now be licensed.  The new bylaw also has the advantage of allowing a show-cause hearing for license revocation for those tow truck operators that do not follow the rules.
The new licensing fees pay for staff dedicated to the tow enforcement program and last month, between the bylaw staff and police, five charges were laid in the city.  Note, these are not tickets which tow operators consider to be the price of doing business and simply add to their tow bill, but charges that the tow operator must take a day off work to explain to a judge and is recorded on their license record with the bylaw office.

These municipal operations are effective. Brochures are given out (attached) to warn and inform motorists. If tow operators do not get the message the next step would be to classify ALL tows as “security” and only police authorized towers would be allowed to tow ALL cars, removing a “chase” threat and removing the financial benefits from the “chaser” entirely.
Our fear with “chasing” is simply this:  with profit margins so low at collision repair facilities, the only way to recover the funds paid to the “chaser” is some sort of fraud or improper invoicing for that repair.  This is where the complaints of the $1000 storage fee come into play, the attempt to file a lien on the car under the Storage and Liens Act, $500 for a piece of cardboard under the car for any possible fluid leaks, work done that is not authorized or orders placed for stolen parts.  Harmonized municipal licensing would be great to use across the province but difficult to implement.   Having the Collision Repair Standards Act in place would diminish this abuse and fraud.

We used to have an Association initiative where the customer was provided a form when entering one of our member repair facilities. It explained their rights and asked them whether they have been subjected to solicitation at the accident scene and by whom (usually they had the “chaser’s” business card). Similar questions could be included relative to whether the motorist provided personal information to the tow operator that could be sold to a medical assessment clinic.
We must also remember that insurers have a part to play in this business.   When insurers simply issue cheques to oil and lube shops for collision repair payment, knowing that the facility does not have the trades licensed personnel or equipment to perform safe and legal repairs, then the insurer is part of the problem.  The Ontario Ministry of Labour found in the joint industry blitz during 2009 and 2010 of 820 locations, six oil and lube shops that were using insurance cheques to pay for collision damage. They were charged with health and safety and trades violations.  We understand that some of these vehicles were repaired so badly they had to be purchased by the insurance company after the repairs were done and paid for and sold for scrap, as the repaired vehicle was too dangerous and unsafe to drive.

Last month, an insurer advised the owner at one of our member shops north of Hamilton, that despite his repair work being flawless and his customers thrilled with their collision repair and paint work, they were removing “their” business from him, some 20% of his sales volume, because another shop in town had offered them a further 5% discount.  That other shop had neither licensed technicians nor a frame rack for vehicle repair, yet they received the insurer’s volume of work.  Insurers too, in our view, must deal with legitimate shops that meet or exceed minimum compliance levels for trade certification, environmental protection and proper equipment. Again having a list of accredited facilities like the Collision Repair Standards Act requires will solve the problem of paying phantom or illegitimate repair shops.


On Friday, a senior staff person at the Ministry of Training, Colleges  and Universities called me with a question.  He had an accident with his car and took it to a repair facility he deals with and trusts, with all licensed techs.  He received a written damage assessment, and advised his insurance company, who told him he must take his car to another shop that they deal with for the estimate.  He objected but did so, and received a damage estimate for $3000 higher that the first, including parts that he did not need in his assessment as a trades licensed individual.

He explained this to the insurer who still insisted he have the repair work done at the more expensive shop as they would not guarantee the work at the first shop nor could come to see the vehicle damage anytime soon.  We hear this story a lot, and don’t understand why the insurers continue to take this stand.

We hear from shop owners with bizarre tales of fraud activities in the industry but are too scared to speak in case their testimony or openness leads to revocation of their approved or preferred status with the insurer. 
A recommendation from this Task Force should be, as we also told FSCO, a “Whistleblower” protection that extends to collision repair shop owners who bring forward evidence of fraud.  FSCO should have the right and obligation to protect these individuals from actions taken against them when they come forward. That’s why no other shop owner is brave enough to come here today with me.  They are scared of losing a relationship with an insurer or being “blacklisted” by an insurer if they speak out about what happens at their shop.

When we receive a shop complaint on an environmental issue, we have a 1-800 number at the Ministry where we or the shop can anonymously identify an illegal activity.  It works well.  We do not have that for industry or insurance complaints unfortunately and that should be changed.

We provided the Standing Committee and FSCO with an example of a shop in northwest Ontario that is in an area where one insurance company is the carrier for more than 50% of all auto insurance polices and is the massively dominant insurer in that marketplace.
Without that insurer’s business, a shop will fail in that marketplace.  Our fear is that the insurer knows this and may use improper and abusive efforts to reduce its costs in that marketplace.

Shops in Thunder Bay, for instance, must buy used parts from a London or Thorold based recycler and endure the wait time for the 1-3 day trip to Thunder Bay, even if the same part is available from a local supplier that the shop has dealt with for 30 years.  That’s because the insurer receives a 3% fee rebate from the approved long-distance supplier and not from the local supplier. 

One shop advised us that an insurer, after lowering the shop’s labour rate and demanding additional free services, then takes a 5% discount from the repair facility’s cheque (including 5% of the HST), before sending the cheque to the shop and boasts that if the shop does not co-operate with them they have a 70% success rate in being able to convince customers not to use his repair facility, forcing his business collapse. This shop owner is scared.

We worry that demands by insurers (who are dominant in their marketplace and can demand of repair shops under threat of the shop’s business collapse) to only use parts suppliers (and we believe paint companies) that pay a fee back to the insurer may be anti-competitive and not in compliance with federal Competition Bureau regulations.

We worry that abusive impacts on shops from all sides and the shops’ perception that if they don’t co-operate with the insurer they will be out of business, leads, regrettably to an atmosphere where fraud becomes a viable alternative to a desperate shop owner. 
None of us want that to happen here.
Thank you for your kind invitation to speak.


John Norris
Executive Director
Collision Industry Information Assistance
1 866 309 4272
www.ciia.com   www.autobodyhelp.ca

CIIA release year end total activity review

So-- what have we done ?

  • Contracted with the government of Canada for the only First Nations
    autobody environmental program
  • Designed with the Canadian Paint Coatings Association (CPCA),  and funded by the federal and provincial governments, the mandatory  training for automotive painters in Ontario with over 1000 students  already successfully completing course
  • Submitted over 600 successful environmental applications for a Certificate of
    Approval for shops since 2002- a savings for shops of over $2 million
  • Arranged for almost 500 shops to receive no fee compliancy for their environmental activities between 2011-2012. Shop savings exceeded $600,000
  • Implemented CCME low-VOC National Standards recommendations with province of Ontario, changing the Environmental Protection Act.
  • Provided the only simplified air emissions spray booth program in Canada
  • Designed under contract with the City of Toronto a new shop emissions reporting system that saved shops over $700,000 in fees if done privately
  • Received a $300,000 grant from government to design appropriate simplified emissions programs and implementation for auto refinish shops
  • -Successfully removed mobile paint operations from obtaining simplified environmental approval. Helped convince government to prosecute mobile coatings offenders
  • Worked to mandate the use of HVLP spray guns with the government of Canada and CCME
  • Operated the first Secondary School Workplace Apprenticeship Program in
    Canada for autobody (later became the model of the successful OYAP programs)
  • Operated the only Help for Laid Off Autobody Apprentices program in Canada funded by Ontario
  • Operated the only Autobody Youth Internship Program in Canada on behalf of the CARS
  • Helped co-ordinate the local Job Connect, MTCU autobody job placement program
  • Helped produce teh IEC/HRDC report on Skilled Trades Retention that showed why apprentices leave school or stay in their second year
  • Produced a study in late 2012, identifying data nationally showing a massive attrition rate for autobody apprentices across Canada, leaving the trade after signing but before schooling.  That attrition rate in autobody/collision damage repairer is almost 70%
  • Worked for www.apprenticesearch.com in a paid contract to help, for the first time in Canada, successfully secure autobody employment listings and matches electronically
  • Ran the successful Autobody Career Day in Toronto with over 1200 attenders
  • Provided and helped produce the donor program for autobody programs with over$2.2 million donated (www.ciia.com/provinces/ontario/donations.html)
  • Achieved the goal of a $6.6 million investment by Ontario for a new apprenticeship autobody program building at Mohawk College
  • Helped secure and arranged the donor recognition program for the $1 million of donations to Centennial College's autobody program expansion and found donors
  • Received approval (after two years of work) to replace high school autobody curriculum in some school boards with apprenticeship level one.  This puts those graduates one year ahead when entering the industry.  Also used this same formula for satellite campuses where travel distances to community colleges was a deterrent to students
  • Operated Career Day Forum at CARFIX World in Toronto at National Trade
    Centre with over 4000 attendees
  • Helped obtain the funding for the "Art of Earning"-the industry cd-rom to attract new apprentices. Over 4000 copies distributed.
  • Joined with others to convince government to offer incentives to hire and retain apprentices in our industry
  • Was successful in convincing government to remove ratios and percentages in Apprentice contracts
  • Provide Equivalency programming challenger testing help to over 100 shops per year
  • Encouraged and now monitor new changes in apprenticeship opportunities-for instance-Preparatory license course availability, extra week third level programs and the new proposal for a one month additional vehicle-line specific apprenticeship add-on
  • Operated the Basic Estimating 18-hour course for the last 13 years with over 400students and achieved the only I-CAR equivalency for an association course in Canada
  • Developed and now market two courses from the Business Development Bank of Canada specifically for autobody and collision repair facilities, one on shop profitability and the other on How to Market Your Shop
  • Designed and provided the first sector specific WHMIS training for shops -over 100 shops in last two years
  • Worked within the 2009 and 2010 blitz by government on 820 shops to handle their non-compliance challenges. This included our training of government inspectors. This included three free workshops across Ontario.
  • Designed and provided training course for over 580 structural inspection facilities. This was a contract for MTO. This involved some 30 workshops across Ontario
  • Generated some $6 million in extra shop income through a Salvage inspection "branding" program, which was association designed
  • Designed a grace period for shops that had failed to report to WSIB and generated five years of declining shop premiums in the province through an active Health and Safety program
  • Introduced a new autobody ISO9001 process for collision repair facilities in co-operation with the Federal Business Development Bank. Also introduced the first
    ISO14001 shop (one of our members) to the industry
  • Was on executive committee that stopped federal Right to Repair legislation and replace it with CASIS agreement
  • Successfully convinced the Anti-Fraud Task Force to offer whistle blower protection to collision repair shop owners who want to report insurer and vendor non-compliance and fraud
  • Successfully convinced the Anti-Fraud Task Force to obligate insurers to identify the standards they use to recommend a repair facility
  • Introduced tow truck legislation in various municipalities and recommended using a Designated Administrative Authority which the Anti-Fraud Task Force has accepted
  • Designed and implemented a shop accreditation standards program for 210 shops for the City of Toronto by-law passage.  Inspection of shops was handled by contract.
  • Helped introduce the "mandatory drop" vehicle program at the Collision
    Reporting Centres in Ontario, including for the yearly 60,000+ Toronto accidents
  • Provided assistance and was member of the board of CISCO, The Collision Industry Standards Council of Ontario, the standards and self-management organization
  • Worked with others to pass the new Consumer Protection Act, which also identifies aftermarket parts used in vehicle repairs
  • Made presentations to CCMTA and Transport Canada to successfully ban rebuilt supplemental restraints (airbags)
  • Invited by the Insurance Bureau of Canada to speak on industry issues, and speak to the Claims Committee and also invited by SEMA, CPCA and others
  • Partner with IBC Investigative Services on identification of access codes for stolen vehicles as part of the CASIS Vehicle Security Professional program
  • Only autobody group invited by Standing Committee of the House and regulator (FSCO) to speak on industry abuse issues, and invited to speak on inappropriate behaviour of insurers at a high level
  • Our industry web sites attract over 4.1 million hits per year with up to 800 visitors a day making it the number one viewed and visited autobody web site in Canada
  • Working with other agencies and Ministries to modify the Insurance Act to require insurers to only pay repair facilities that meet minimum provincial compliance standards
  • Helping bring Rickie Leos' predictive estimating to Canada in 2013
  • Executive Director John Norris :
  • Executive Director of HARA/CIIA the second largest trade association for collision repair in North America with 305 members
  • Collision Chair or the National Automotive Trades Association with collision repair shop membership of 1500
  • Administrator-CASIS Vehicle Security Professional program for Canada
    (www.vehiclesecurityprofessional.ca) with over 272,000 paid inquires so far this year,CDN/US
  • member CASIS Executive Committee
  • member NASTF Vehicle Security Committee (U.S.)
  • member for the Centennial College PAC autobody committee
  • member resource for the College of Trades Autobody and Collision Damage Repairer trade board, working on new industry training standards
  • member of the Separate School Board Ontario Youth Apprenticeship program committee
  • Member of the Advisory Board for the successful AYCE pre-apprenticeship autobody
    program in Toronto, now starting their fourth year
  • co-chaired with government the only environmental assistance program for repair facilities
  • industry representative chair to the CCME National Standards on VOC Emissions from Auto Refinish Facilities in Canada study and report that set out new national standards
  • co-chaired government's committee on auto refinish isocyanate emissions and standards
  • winner of the City of Hamilton's Environmentalist of the Year award
  • Winner of the Ontario Pollution Prevention Leadership Award
  • winner of the Recycling Council of Ontario Merit Award
  • winner of the City of Hamilton Skilled Trades Award (twice)
  • winner of the AYCE Autobody Pre-apprenticeship Appreciation award



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