April 2022

Welcome to COCA's monthly Newsletter. Unless noted otherwise, all articles written by COCA President, Ian Cunningham.

Upcoming MLTSD Health and Safety Blitzes 

The Ministry of Labour Training and Skills Development is launching a series of four proactive blitzes in the construction industry.  They are as follows: 

Struck by Motor Vehicles and Mobile Equipment 
  • This blitz will focus on safe and/or qualified operators, the safe use of equipment and safe rigging practices.  Inspectors will also be checking for any applicable motive power C of Qs. 
  • Education and outreach phase: April 1 – June 30, 2022 
  • Inspection phase: May 1 – June 30, 2022 
Compulsory Electrical Trades Under BOSTA 
  • This blitz will focus on the enforcement of the 309A and 309C compulsory electrical trades. 
  • Education and outreach phase: June 1 – August 5, 2022 
  • Inspection phase: July 4 – August 5, 2022 
Excavations and Utility Contacts 
  • This blitz will focus on cave-in prevention, precautions concerning underground services and safe limits of approach to energized overhead conductors.  
  • Education and outreach phase: September 5 – November 4, 2022 
  • Inspection phase: October 3 – November 4, 2022 
Occupational Disease 
  • This blitz will focus on asbestos reporting, compliance with the Asbestos Worker Registry and safe work practices. 
  • Education and outreach phase: October 3 – December 30, 2022 
  • Inspection phase: October 31 – December 30, 2022 
Highlights of Stats Canada’s March Jobs Report 

Here are the highlights copied from Statistics Canada’s monthly jobs report for March 2022: 
Employment gains continue in March 
  • Employment rose by 73,000 (+0.4%) in March, driven by an increase of 93,000 (+0.6%) in full-time work. 
  • Employment rose in both the services-producing (+42,000; +0.3%) and the goods-producing (+31,000; +0.8%) sectors in March. 
  • Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island recorded employment growth. 
  • Total hours worked rose 1.3% in March. 
  • Average hourly wages increased 3.4% on a year-over-year basis. 
  • The proportion of workers who report that they usually work exclusively from home continued to decline in March, down 1.8 percentage points to 20.7%. 
  • Employment growth in March (+73,000; +0.4%) was spread across private sector employees and the self-employed. 

Unemployment falls to record low 
  • The unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 5.3% in March, the lowest rate on record since comparable data became available in 1976. 
  • The adjusted unemployment rate—which includes people who wanted a job but did not look for one—was below its pre-pandemic level for the first time at 7.2%. 
  • The share of the population aged 15 and older participating in the labour market was 65.4% in March, little changed from February. 
The report also noted that total employment in the construction industry in Ontario was at 557,300 in November 2021, 543,200 in December 2021, 535,000 in January 2022, 550,900 in February 2022 and 560,400 in March 2022. 
The full report is available at the following link: 
2021 Year in Review
In 2021 we learned how resilient and resourceful we can be as individuals, organizations, industries, and communities. Every time the ground shifted, we all dug a little deeper into our reserves of energy and optimism. Together, we kept moving forward. After all, building for the future is what we do.

COCA’s 2021 Year in Review takes a look back at 2021, and at our accomplishments.

FAO Report Compares Ontario’s Fiscal Position with Other Provinces - Per Capita Revenue Second Lowest, Per Capita Health Spending Lowest 
On April 6th, the Financial Accountability Office published its report comparing Ontario’s fiscal position with the other provinces.   Here is the executive summary copied from that report: 
This report provides a comparison of Ontario government revenue, program spending, budget balance, net debt and interest expense with other provinces based on Statistics Canada’s Government Finance Statistics (GFS). The report focuses on results from the 2020-21 fiscal year, referred to as 2020 throughout the report. 
Ontario’s total revenue per capita was the second-lowest in Canada 
In 2020, Ontario received $11,031 in revenue per capita, the second-lowest in the country. Ontario’s lower revenue per capita reflects its low federal transfers and other revenues, slightly offset by the Province’s higher tax revenue per capita. 
  • Ontario received the lowest federal transfers per capita among the provinces in 2020, reflecting the Province’s greater ability to generate tax revenues relative to other provinces, which limits its eligibility to qualify for transfers such as Equalization payments. Since 2008, Ontario has consistently received below-average transfers from the federal government. 
  • Ontario received the second-highest tax revenue per capita in 2020, reflecting in part the province’s stronger economic base. Measured against economic activity, tax revenue (13.7 percent of GDP) was slightly above the provincial average (13.2 percent of GDP). 
Ontario’s program spending per capita continues to be the lowest in the country 
Program spending per capita in Ontario in 2020 was $11,794, the lowest in the country. 
  • Ontario’s health spending per capita was the lowest in Canada. Since 2008, Ontario has consistently had among the lowest levels of per capita health spending in the country. 
  • Education spending per capita in Ontario was the fourth highest among the provinces, a higher ranking compared to 2008 when Ontario had the fourth-lowest spending among the provinces. 
Ontario’s below-average interest expense reflects its lower borrowing rates, easing the burden of its considerably higher net debt per capita 
  • Ontario’s net debt was the highest among the provinces in 2020, both in per capita terms ($21,924) and as a share of GDP (37.3 percent) – the result of frequent budget deficits over the last 40 years.  
  • Despite Ontario’s higher debt burden, its interest expense per capita was $834, below the provincial average, reflecting its comparatively lower borrowing rates. 
The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the finances of all provinces in 2020, but little effect on Ontario’s relative rankings 
  • For most provinces, budget balances deteriorated with the onset of the pandemic, as large spending increases outpaced weak revenue growth. As a result, net debt levels increased in 2020. 
  • However, despite the impact of the pandemic on provincial finances, Ontario’s interprovincial per capita rankings did not change significantly from 2019 to 2020. 
For the full report, click on the following link: 

New Skilled Trades Training Centre for Strathroy  
  • Minister of Labour Training and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton, announced that $5.7 million from the provincial government’s $200 million Skills Development Fund has been allocated for the development of a new skilled trades training centre in Strathroy, Ontario 
  • The project includes the involvement of the Thames Valley District School Board, the London District Catholic School Board, Lambton College and the Technical Training Group (a Stratford-based provider of technical and trades training) 
  • Once in operation, the centre will provide elementary and secondary students and apprentices with instruction and state of the art equipment to explore and train for careers in the skilled trades 
  • The centre will focus on industrial mechanic millwright, welding and metal fabricating 
  • Details about the construction of the centre are not known 
Minimum Wage to Increase on October 1 

On April 5th, the government announced an increase in Ontario’s minimum wage.  On January 1, 2022, the general minimum wage was increased from $14.35/hour to $15.00 per hour with a further increase to $15.50 for the period October 1, 2022 to September 30, 2023.  The special rates for students, hunting fishing & wilderness guides and homeworkers will also be increased.  For the full story, click on the following link:  

Ontario Election Polls

March Leger Poll Has PCs in the Lead 

Polling firm Leger conducted a survey of 1,000 Ontario residents aged 18 years and older using computer-assisted web survey interviewing technology between March 25th and March 28th.  Here are some of the findings from their research: 
  • Among decided and leaning respondents, 39% would vote PC, 25% Liberal, 24% NDP, 5% Green, 5% New Blue and 3% another party 
  • Premier Ford’s net favourable rating (favourable minus unfavourable) was minus 11, NDP leader Andrea Horwath’s was plus 4, Liberal leader Steven Del was minus 11 and Green leader Mike Schreiner was minus 12 
  • Respondents ranked their priority issues as follows: 1. Inflation; 2. Housing affordability; 3. Economic recovery from the pandemic; 4. Reducing surgical wait times; 5. Improving the long-term care home system 

The full report is available by clicking on the following link: 

Tories Fortunes Improve In Latest Angus Reid Poll 

The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) conducted an online survey of 5,105 Canadian adults including 1,063 Ontarians from March 10th to March 15th.  Here are the highlights of their Ontario findings: 
  • Premier Ford now has a 43% favorability rating, overtaking NDP Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath at 35% 
  • 77% of those who said they voted PC in 2018 say they will vote PC again in 2022, 72% of 2018 NDP voters and 69% of Liberal 2018 voters 
  • 37% of decided respondents said they would vote PC versus 29% NDP and 25% Liberal 

The full report is available at the following link: https://angusreid.org/provincial-spotlight-march-2022/   
338Canada Seat Projections 

I say this almost every time I write about polls, they make great water cooler conversations but the only poll that counts is the one on election day when voters go to their assigned polling stations to cast their ballots.    
That said, I find the 338Canada project intriguing.  It is a statistical model of electoral projections based on opinion polls, electoral history, and demographic data. Its website https://338canada.com/ontario/  is the creation of Philippe J. Fournier, a physics and astrophysics professor at Cégep de Saint-Laurent in Montreal and political columnist for Maclean’s and L’actualite magazines and a media contributor in Montreal.   
338Canada currently projects that: 
  • The PCs will win 74 seats, the NDP 26, the Liberals 23 and the Greens 1 
  • The PCs will win 38% of the popular vote, the Liberals 27%, the NDP 25% and the Greens 5% 
  •  The PCs have greater than a 99% chance of winning the most seats, a 79% chance of forming a majority government and a 22% chance of forming a minority government 
A feature that makes the website more interesting is that you can type in the name of an electoral district (riding) to get Canada338’s projections for that electoral district.  For example, I plugged in “Barrie-Springwater-Oro Medonte” a seat currently held by the PCs very capable Attorney General Doug Downey.  He will be opposed in the upcoming general election by the hugely popular 3 term mayor of Barrie, Jeff Lehman who is running for the Liberals.  Lehman has consistently won the barrie mayoralty race wins with more than 90% of the popular vote. I think this should be a close race but not 338Canada. 

They have Downey winning with 42% of the popular vote followed by the NDP candidate with 20% then the Liberal Lehman with 19% and the Green candidate with 14%.  In this traditionally PC voting riding, it will be interesting to see if the historical voting pattern continues or if it can be overcome by a well-liked candidate. 

Plug the name of your own riding and see what 338Canada predicts.  They predict my home riding is likely to switch from NDP to Liberal.  What about yours? 
More Ridings to Watch on June 2nd 
Brampton Centre 
  • The Brampton ridings were rejigged prior to the 2018 Ontario general election 
  • The incumbent is NDP MPP Sara Singh, age 37, Ph.D. (Ryerson) in public policy, first elected to the Ontario legislature in the 2018 Ontario general election which she won over the PC candidate by fewer than 100 votes, currently serves as the NDP’s attorney general critic and prior to her career in politics was the founder of an organization called Broadening Horizons 
  • The PC candidate is Charmaine Williams, a Brampton City Councillor who prior to her election to Council was a certified multi-systemic therapist and behavioural consultant and counsellor with a practice focused on youth  
  • Hafdar Hussain will be carrying the Liberal banner into the 2022 contest, a role he also played in 2018; he earned an LLB from the UofT and is a real estate agent and active in community affairs in Brampton  

Brampton North 
  • As noted above, the Brampton ridings were reconfigured prior to the 2018 Ontario general election 
  • The current member for Brampton North is NDP MPP Kevin Yarde, first elected in the 2018 Ontario general election by less than 500 votes over his PC competitor, trouncing a Liberal incumbent Harinder Malhi (former MPP for the riding called Brampton-Springdale); prior to his election, Yarde worked at The Weather Network; however, Yarde was caught off guard and was defeated in the NDP nomination contest by realtor and former immigration consultant Sandeep Singh who will be on the ballot representing the orange party  
  • Malhi will be in the race again for the Liberals; she is the daughter of a former MP, had a career in telecom and real estate sales served as a Peel District School Board trustee, was elected to the Ontario legislature in 2014 and served in a number of PA roles before being appointed Minister of the Status of Women 
  •  The Tories are fielding Graham McGregor, a former car salesman and political operative who has been a political staffer in the Ford government serving as an advisor to the ministers of environment conservation & parks, finance and municipal affairs & housing 

  • Over the past two decades, the riding has alternated between Conservative and Liberal  
  • Etobicoke-Lakeshore is currently held by PC MPP Christine Hogarth, a former Conservative Party executive, association staffer (Toronto Board of Trade, Canadian Automobile Association) and experienced political staffer (Chris Hodgson, John Tory, Patrick Brown), first elected in 2018 besting her NDP opponent by more than 3,000 votes and easily defeating the Liberal incumbent, currently serving as PA to the solicitor general  
  • The NDP will be fielding Farheem Alim, an educator in the Peel District School Board who has earned a BA, BEd and MEd degrees, is active in the OSSTF and the Peel Regional Labour Council  
  • Carrying the Liberal colours into the race is Lee Fairclough, considered a start candidate she was president of St Mary’s Hospital in Kitchener from January 2020 – April 2022, an adjunct professor in health policy at the UofT, former health policy executive 
Toronto Centre 
  • The riding is currently held by NDP MPP Suze Morrison who will not be seeking re-election for personal health reasons 
  • The NDP has not yet identified a candidate for Toronto Centre 
  • Prior to Morrison’s election in 2018, the riding had been in Liberal hands (Glenn Murray and George Smitherman) for a long period of time 
  • The PC candidate is Jess Goddard 
  • The Liberals candidate is David Morris, chair of the 519 Community Centre that supports newcomers, refugees and residents and who works with the People with Aids Foundation 
Premier Ford’s Nephew Picked to Run in York South-Weston Riding 

The PCs have handpicked Michael Ford, the nephew of Premier Doug Ford, as the party’s candidate in the York South-Weston electoral district in the upcoming Ontario general election.  The seat is currently held by NDP MPP Faisal Hassan but the riding has flipped between the Libs and the NDP, more Liberal than NDP since it was formed in 1999.  However, the introduction of a Ford into the race may have made it a three-way toss-up.  

Here's the skinny on Michael Ford: 
  • Age 28 
  • Son of premier Ford’s older sister Kathy Ford and Ennio Stirpe (his father Ennio Stirpe was convicted of manslaughter in 2009 and of attempted murder in 2012 and is currently believed to be incarcerated) 
  • He was born Michael Douglas Aldo Stirpe but changed his name to Michael Douglas Ford in 2014 
  • Graduated from Richview Collegiate in Etobicoke in 2012 
  • Elected Toronto District School Board trustee in 2014 
  • Resigned his trustee position in 2016 to successfully seek election to Toronto City Council in a by-election necessitated by the death of his uncle, Rob Ford  
  • Re-elected to Toronto City Council in 2018  
  • He has served on the Toronto Police Services Board, the Economic and Community Development Committee, Audit Committee, and the Canadian National Exhibition Association Board. 

Contesting the election for the Liberals in York South-Weston is Nadia Guerrera, an educator and social science department head and geography, history, politics and environmental studies teacher in the TCDSB, founder and former executive director of Orwell Art and an unsuccessful candidate in the 2018 Ontario general election. 

Carrying the NDP banner once again will be incumbent Faisal Hassan who took an unsuccessful run at a seat in the House of Commons in 2015 before he was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 2018.  He has been active in his community on housing issues. 
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Council of Ontario Construction Associations
926 - 123 Edward Street
Toronto ON M5G 1E2
COCA Staff
Ian Cunningham
Operations Manager
Martin Benson
COCA Website        WSIB          Ministry of Labour        
926 - 123 Edward Street
Toronto ON M5G 1E2
Phone: (416) 968-7200