Code Camp Bitmaker Labs Gets Legal

Days after it came to light that Bitmaker Labs might be breaking Canadian law, the Toronto-based coding school is working with the Ontario government towards getting itself in the clear.

Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities (MTCU) sent inspectors to the coding bootcamp after it heard about it through positive press in the Globe and Mail. The governing body was concerned that Bitmaker Labs, which runs a nine-week boot camp that students pay $9,000 to attend, was running an unregulated private college. 

Heather Payne, who runs another Toronto coding school called HackerYou, explained in a blog post that, under the 2005 Private Career Colleges Act, programs that cost more than $1,000 or last for more than 40 hours are legally private colleges. (This is also why the cheaper, shorter HackerYou will not face an investigation.)

Who's Really Helping Entrepreneurs?

Many of Bitmaker Labs’ supporters have taken to Twitter to decry the MTCU for “stifling” innovation in business. Brad Duguid, the Minister of Training, Colleges, and University, released a statement to ReadWrite that defends the ministry’s actions. 

“The Ontario government is a champion of entrepreneurs and as such, we will do everything to help Ontario’s innovators and entrepreneurs succeed,” he said. “Of course, 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.”

A Burden For Startup Code Schools

Bitmaker Labs cofounder Matt Gray confirmed to ReadWrite that the process is ongoing, but that it’s lengthy and arduous. 

“The registration process is extremely burdensome for a startup and the costs can be quite substantial,” Gray said. “It's also necessary to include approved examinations and assessments. The regulatory hurdles can take a lot of time.”

Nevertheless, Gray plans to cooperate fully and get Bitmaker Labs regulated as quickly as possible. They may be shut down temporarily, but he said there are no hard feelings.

“Brad is a great guy and wants to fuel the entrepreneurial community here in Ontario,” he said. “I'm confident we'll be able to resolve this issue in a timely manner. The government has indicated their willingness to work with us. We're excited to change education and help build the startup ecosystem in Canada.”

Photo of Matt Gray with students courtesy of Bitmaker Labs