Canadian Security Magazine

Portable licensing came and the world didn’t end

By Brian Robertson   

Features Opinion

Remember Y2K? It’s hard to believe that over 10 years have passed since the collapse of civilization as we know it.

Remember how every computer in the world crashed, all at the same time,
and we were forced to revert to our pre-industrial revolution
lifestyles? No? Doesn’t ring a bell? That’s because it never happened.

And because it didn’t happen, we forget just how certain so many people
were that it was going to happen. But they were.
Its dangerous when we make really big mistakes in judgment and then
forget about them too soon.

The Spanish philosopher and essayist Jorge
Santayana famously observed that “Those who cannot remember the past
are condemned to repeat it.”

That’s why it is useful for us to all pause for a bit and take note of
something that has been happening (as well as something that hasn’t
been happening) over the course of the last few years. The thing that
has been happening is that portable licensing for security licensees
has become the “new normal” in several Canadian provinces. The thing
that hasn’t happened is that none of the dire predictions about what a
catastrophe portable licensing would be for the security industry have
come true.


Portable licensing arrived in Manitoba over three years ago,
in Ontario over two-and-a-half years ago, and in BC over a year and a
half ago. (It is arriving in Alberta even as you read this.) And has
the result been that guards have become itinerant mercenaries wandering
around to a different employer every night of the week?

Has the result
been that proprietary secrets are now getting tossed around like so
many pirated media downloads? Have guards, emboldened by the power they
now hold as independent contractors, started imposing exorbitant wage
level demands on their employers?
Hardly. None of this has happened.

Guards still prefer full-time jobs
to part-time jobs, and still prefer working for one regular employer
over working for five employers at a time. Security employees still
understand that they are ethically and legally compelled to respect the
confidentiality of information that they come into possession of during
the course of their employment.

And wage levels are still dictated by
high level non-security management decision makers who don’t understand
what security guards actually do and who don’t therefore see why there
is any particular reason to pay them anything approaching a decent
living wage.

What has happened in those jurisdictions where portable licensing has
been introduced is that employers now have to expend a lot less time
and money getting their new hires licensed, because most of their new
hires now walk in the front door with their licenses already in their

Those who were running around like Chicken Little a few years
back, saying that portable licensing was going to cause the sky to fall
in on the security industry, were wrong in their dire predictions.
It is important to acknowledge this because a new “threat” looms
over much of the security industry in Canada, and that is the grim
spectre of mandatory training and testing.

Mandatory training has just
arrived in Ontario, it will arrive within a year in Alberta, and it
will come soon after that to Quebec and Nova Scotia. And lots of people
are predicting doom for the contract security industry. The supply of
prospective employees for the security industry, we are told, will dry
up like interest in the playoffs after the last Canadian team is
knocked out.

Problem is, it’s just not true. It didn’t happen in B.C. in 1996, it
didn’t happen in Saskatchewan in 2001, and it didn’t happen in Manitoba
in 2007. Nor is it going to happen in Ontario, Alberta, or anywhere

Training will be taken, tests will be written, licenses will be
issued, guards will be hired, and the world will keep on turning.
Y2K didn’t take us out in 2000. A worldwide swine flu pandemic didn’t
take us out last year. The Aztec Calendar isn’t going to take us out in
2012. And mandatory training for security guards was never even a
serious contender. People can just relax.

Print this page


Stories continue below


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *