uk plumber in quebec

Old Feb 13th 2010, 8:46 pm
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Default uk plumber in quebec

I'll write about my experience as I feel it may help some people in respect to queries that they might have.

I arrived in Montreal around five months ago, ( I possess a working holiday visa) I am a fully qualified plumbing and heating engineer of sixteen years from England. My most important qualifications are listed below.

nvq level 2 and 3 mechanical services engineer
acs qualified for all domestic appliances with over ten years experience
5 years solar installation exp
ground source heat pump credited installer
Air source heat pump credited installer
10 years running my own business
employment of up to three people
2 years living in France with intermediate french language skills

I arrived and immediatley found the construction industry to be heavily regulated by unions and governing bodies.
None of my qualifications are recognized here in Quebec. In order to work in the construction industry you HAVE to be licensed. There is a small area of renovation work where you are permitted to work but it is not worth the risk as both the home owner and tradesman are liable should you be found to be breaking the law. Yes there are inspectors checking! It is also the reason why licensed tradesman will not even contemplate taking on someone who is not affiliated to the powers that be, here in Quebec the governing body is called the ccq. (google ccq quebec for info). The construction industry is union controlled.

I contacted local contractor's who said that they were interested but it would be necessary to start from the beginning of the ladder as an apprentice and would pay me $15.00 an hour, basically the equivalent to minimum pay in England.
I arranged for a meeting with the ccq and they eventually allowed two options by which I could submit evidence of work from which they could then investigate my experience (not qualifications). this method would at least give some credits (hours) to put towards entering their system.

You have two methods of applying:

As an employee
As an employer

Basically you need everything from:

Qualification work evidence i.e nvq record books (although not recognized)
pay slips covering all your hours as proof in the industry
apprenticeship documents
references
Proof of areas worked in relation to experience
quotations
detailed invoices
tax returns (going back 8 years)

Even though I only wanted to be an employee I couldn't produce evidence of working for someone as I've been a main contractor myself for ten years, I had to apply to be an employer but reference that I specifically wanted to be employed as the investigator of the employer section was the only person who could evaluate my documentation as I didn't come from someone who'd been employed. All this meant that I had a lot of letter writing/phone calls back home to try to obtain the mountain of documents I needed to submit.
I think i provided some fifty pages of documents (the more the better) and only headed letters (this has to be considered serious) there is no room for scruffy bits of paper and if anything is missing don't even bother.

After two weeks of waiting after my file was submitted I was given the go ahead to sit the journeyman exam which allows me to obtain full plumber status and the correct pay once I have passed, become a member of a union and found a job. I was given one weeks notice for the english exam and advised on the appropriate documents for study (Plumbing code for Canada) can be bought online for $120.00. I sat the exam which consisted of 51 multiple choice questions and lasted three hours. Cost $100.00

Plumbing and heating are separate here, one exam at a time.

Tips
Brush up on your maths (angles)
please do your revision

The plumbing here is very simple but old fashioned, every appliance is still vented and kind of reflects how the victorians would have worked. You need to know there random measurements and quirky ways.

If you fail you can't reapply for three months, which means yes: NO WORK!

This is Quebec which known for being difficult, but I think you should see this as an example of reality here in accessing the industry in Canada as a whole, obviously this is my experience only.

Pay is around thirty dollars an hour once make it!
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Old Feb 18th 2010, 1:19 am
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Default Re: uk plumber in quebec update

Forgot to mention, before being issued with a license it is obligatory to sit a health and safety course that lasts thirty hours and costs roughly $250.00. otherwise you still will not be able to work on construction sites.



I'm waiting for my license and it has proven nigh impossible to find a regular source of income. Basically because if you work as a plumber in Canada you may as well be licensed as you get paid more with all the benefits you'd expect.
Finding work through craigslist and the like is where you come across unskilled workers claiming to be plumbers that charge fifteen bucks an hour, you're also likely to get people only wanting to pay fifteen bucks and hour.
I had one guy today offer me $500.00 (250 pounds) bucks for forty hours work a week, you can earn more washing dishes. And I had to use my own car!

My advice is to anyone seriously thinking about Canada, is to do your homework, it will take time commitment and money to even put yourself in a position to work, let alone earn the riches most seem to think they will have as soon as they get here.

Good luck
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Old Feb 18th 2010, 12:54 pm
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Default Re: uk plumber in quebec

hello

Thanks for that, i'm an english plumber but i've been working in the south of france for the last six years, i'm employed by a french company. i looked quickly into moving to canada a couple of years ago.

now i'm happy i didn't take the plunge, it sounds like a lot of time and effort, but if you've lived in france too you'll be used to having lots of problems finding work and french paperwork.

barney
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Old Feb 18th 2010, 7:42 pm
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Default Re: uk plumber in quebec

Thanks for that Barney!

I've always said I will return to France, lucky begger! I've only been away less than a year.
I just stumbled across this forum and realized that nobody had actually written about their experiences whilst working as a plumber in Canada. I thought that my few paragraphs may give some people a little perspective on the reality of using english qualifications/experience in Canada.

I wish I'd had a little more advice on arrival, red tape is a north american issue too which is surprising, I guess it's everywhere now!


Robin
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Old Feb 19th 2010, 8:29 am
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Default Re: uk plumber in quebec

hello

where abouts in france was you?

Don't know if you found the same but the plumbing is completely different here in france than england. ok a sink is a sink but the pipe runs and pipework is not the same. i started off on renovation just changing bathrooms and kitchens, so not too difficult. then i got offered a job on new build. i didn't have a clue at first but after 2 or 3 villas and a few appatment blocks by the sea later. its simple.

barney
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Old Feb 19th 2010, 9:09 pm
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Default Re: uk plumber in quebec

Barney,

I had the same issue when I arrived in France, pipe sizing was different to begin with, I never got involved with new dwellings but I did get the opportunity to work on some nice old conversions. I spent a lot of my time close to the alps in between Lyon and Grenoble, I did some work in the Alps but there was too many English people who couldn't speak a word of French. There are a lot of plumbing and heating companies that need labour during the winter as they service lots of hotels, English/ French speaker would certainly get you places. I headed south west and spent quite a long summer in Languedoc, in a small village between Mirepoix and Limoux just Helping a local plumber and local builders. I got used to the 35 hour week! I then met a Quebecer hence the reason I'm now in Montreal.

I miss the food/wine and the beautiful French accent!
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Old Feb 19th 2010, 10:06 pm
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Default Re: uk plumber in quebec

I just wanted to say what insightful posts . I know it is just your experience and all, but never the less, they make for an interesting read. It touched a nerve as much of what was written could apply to us here in NZ.

Plumbing and heating are separate here, one exam at a time.

Tips
Brush up on your maths (angles)
please do your revision

The plumbing here is very simple but old fashioned
we feel your pain.

We emigrated down to New Zealand 6 years ago. My husband is a time served plumber/gasfitter with over 30 years on the tools. He had the accredited solar stuff. ACS . Corgi . You name it he had it. We had our own little plumbing biz back in the UK.

Was it worth anything in NZ really? Nope.

You want to work as a recognised NZ registered plumber, you jump through hoops. Heaven forbid you want to go self-employed.

Just to work as a registered plumber/gasfitter in the trade needs a pre-assessment and then a 4 day full assessment and exams. Costs - around $4000NZD or so. That would be around a months pay.

You want to be your own boss ? You're looking at more time, more money and more exams including a business exam.

Anyway, thanks for the read.
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Old Feb 21st 2010, 7:18 am
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Default Re: uk plumber in quebec

hello

Here in france i've only worked for agencies and companies, i've never even showed my city and guilds qualifications. i've worked for two companies and at the beginning it was very difficult to find work, i had a decent level of french and had to start on basic wage. After 1 months trial i got the famous cdi contract( the almost unbreakable full time contract) i was living in agde at the time and all our work was in council refurbs, Each morning we went to the suppliers and after a few weeks i was getting offers from lots of companies in Montpellier. i had just bought a house some 160 kms away in carcassonne so i left my job in agde thinking it would be easy to find work as i had 3 years experience of working in france. I moved to carcasonne and couldn't find work i went to one interview and even offered to work 1 week for free to prove myself, i never even got a response, then i sent another cv to a company and he phoned and asked if i was english, i said yes and he said ok and goodbye.

i then had to work for agencies for a year and the only place i could find work was in Agde, i now work for a company in beziers which is 50 minutes drive from my house. Every company i worked for with the agency wanted to employ me, but i've still never found any work around here in carcasonne.

Atleast if i wanted to start my own company in france my qualifications can be used unlike in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

barney
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Old Feb 21st 2010, 9:04 pm
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Default Re: uk plumber in quebec

We looked at a move to France but my husband speaks no french at all & being dyslexic he felt he would never pick up enough language to work, let alone trying to read any french .
I still have a hankering to try life somewhere on the Continent.
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