Minister endorses Bitmaker Labs, backpedals on regulatory requirement

Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities Brad Duguid visited the offices of Toronto-based coding bootcamp Bitmaker Labs today to signal a truce has been reached following a dispute that saw the firm cease operations and an ensuing social media firestorm.

Bitmaker Labs took its Web site offline and interrupted its classes, ceasing all operations for fear of legal ramifications in the face of an investigation by the ministry. After learning of the startup’s approach to teach computer programming in a positive Globe and Mail article, the ministry launched an investigation to see if Bitmaker Labs was breaking the law by not operating as a licenced private college.

Bitmaker Labs resumed classes July 2 and was able to complete its program for students currently attending. Any animosity between the startup and the ministry was assuaged today with Duguid’s visit to the coding bootcamp.

Originally, Duguid said Bimaker Labs would have to register as a private college before the dispute was resolved. “Bitmaker will need to register, just like everyone else – and they are currently in the process of doing that. I hope that this matter will be resolved very soon,” he wrote in an e-mail statement sent to June 27.

But Bitmaker Labs avoided regulation in the end. On the site’s blog, co-founder Tory Jarmain writes; “We were able to find a an exemption that will allow Bitmaker Labs to continue operating as an unaccredited institution. Our faith in the Ontario government is restored.”

When Bitmaker Labs shut down its operations, it went against its lawyers own advice to publicize the investigation by the ministry. The result was mostly outrage from students, hiring partners, and other members of the tech startup community. The story was picked up by national media publications and Wired Magazine.


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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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