January 2021

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

Emergency Child Care for Construction Workers 
Starting on January 10, 2022, the Ministry of Education is providing free emergency child care for frontline and critical workers including construction workers.  
To confirm whether or not your family is eligible for access to emergency child care, please contact your local system manager. The list of local system managers is available at this link: 
See a full list of eligible workers click on the following link: 
Highlights From Statistics Canada’s December 2021 Labour Market Report 

Here are some highlights copied from the report: 

  • “Total hours worked were little changed in December.  
  • Among core-aged men aged 25 to 54, employment increased by 63,000 (+1.0%), making it 162,000 (+2.5%) higher than in February 2020.  
  • Although little changed in December, employment for core-aged women has also trended upward since June and was 130,000 (+2.2%) above its pre-pandemic level in December.  
  • Public sector employment rose by 32,000 (+0.8%), while there was little change in the number of private sector employees and the number of self-employed workers.  
  • Among workers who worked at least half their usual hours, the proportion who worked from home was little changed in December at 23.8%.  
  • Average hourly wages increased 2.7% (+$0.80) on a year-over-year basis in December.  
  • The labour force participation rate held steady at 65.3%, virtually the same as before the pandemic.  
  • Employment increased in Ontario and Saskatchewan, while it declined in Newfoundland and Labrador.  
  • Unemployment remains slightly above pre-pandemic level The unemployment rate was 5.9% in December, little changed from November and slightly above its pre-pandemic February 2020 level (5.7%).  
  • The adjusted unemployment rate—which includes people who wanted a job, but did not look for one—was 7.6%, marking the first return to the pre-pandemic level for this indicator.  
  • The number of Canadians unemployed for 27 weeks or more fell for the second consecutive month (-25,000; -8.0%).” 
  • “Employment in Ontario rose for the seventh consecutive month (+47,000; +0.6%) in December, bringing total gains since May to 468,000 (+6.5%). Increases were in full-time work, and mostly in wholesale and retail trade and manufacturing. Men aged 15 to 24 and men aged 25 to 54 accounted for most of the gains. The unemployment rate fell for the seventh consecutive month, down 0.4 percentage points to 6.0%, the lowest since February 2020.” 
  • StatsCan also reported that in December 2021 there were 546,100 people employed in the construction industry in Ontario, an increase of 1,700 (+0.3%) from the previous month and an increase of 6,500 (+1.2%) from December 2020 
The full report can be accessed at the following link:  
Issues of Greatest Concern  
Here’s what 1,010 respondents from across Canada said when a Nanos poll asked, “From the following list, which issue are you most worried about today?” 
  • 36% inflation 
  • 30% climate change 
  • 29% the pandemic 
  • 3% reconciliation with Indigenous peoples 
  • 2% not sure 

The response from the 323 Ontarians participating in the polling pretty much mirrored the national results: 
  • 36.3% inflation 
  • 30.2% climate change 
  • 28% the pandemic 
  • 4.1% reconciliation with Indigenous peoples 
  • 1.3% not sure 
Nanos results can be accessed at the following link: 
Leger Poll Shows Tories Still Lead 

A Leger poll of 1001 eligible Ontario voters between November 12 – 14, 2021 revealed the following results: 

  • Among the total eligible voters 29% said they would vote PC, 26% Liberal, 22% NDP, 5% Green, 2% New Blue, 1% someone else, 9% don’t know and 6% I will not vote 
  • Among decided and leaning voters 34% said they would vote PC, 31% Liberal, 26% NDP, 6% Green, 2% New Blue, 1% someone else 
  • The firmness of choice among decided and leaning voters was fairly soft with only 50% of those that indicated they would vote PC saying there choice is final, 47% of Liberal choosers, 46% of NDP and 18% of Greens 
  • The PCs won the 2018 general Election with 40.5% of the vote. Leger polling in March 2021 showed the PCs with 38%, May 2021 34%, October 2021 35% and November 2021 34% 
  • The Libs were decimated in 2018 receiving only 19.6% of the vote. In March 2021 they improved to 23%, May 2021 26%, October 2021 30% and November 2021 31% 
  • The NDP became the Official Opposition in 2018 with 33.6% of the vote. In March 2021 they polled at 28%, May 2021 25%, October 2021 25% and November 2021 26% 
  • PC Premier Ford had a net favourable rating of -14, NDP leader Andrea Horwath -2, Liberal leader Steven Del Duca -16 and Green leader Mike Schreiner -2 

Complete results are available at the following link:  

MPPs NOT Seeking Re-Election 
Progressive Conservative MPPs 
  • Amy Fee – Kitchener South-Hespler 
  • Gila Martow - Thornhill 
  • Jim McDonell – Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry 
  • Norm Miller - Parry Sound -Muskoka 
  • Christina Mitas – Scarborough Centre 
  • Randy Pettapiece - Perth Wellington 
  • Jeff Yurek – Elgin-Middlesex-London 
Liberal MPPs 
  • Kathleen Wynne – Don Valley West 
  • Percy Hatfield - Windsor-Tecumseh 
  • Taras Natyshak - Essex 
  • Ian Arthur – Kingston and the Islands 
What About the Independent MPPs? 
  • Roman Baber – York Centre – likely to seek re-election either as an Independent or aligned with one of the fringe parties 
  • Randy Hillier – (Ontario First Party) Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston – likely to seek re-election under the Ontario First Party banner 
  • Belinda Karahalios – (New Blue Party) Cambridge – likely to seek re-election as a New Blue Party candidate 
  • Rick Nicholls – (Ontario Party) Chatham-Kent-Leamington – after first announcing that he would not run again, he is believed to be contemplating a re-election attempt as a candidate of the Ontario Party 
  • Lindsey Park – Durham – will not be seeking re-election 
  • Mike Schreiner – (Green Party of Ontario) Guelph – will contest the Guelph riding again as GPO leader 
  • Jim Wilson – Simcoe-Grey – is leaving politics after 32 years as an MPP and even more as a political aide 
Ottawa LRT Enquiry  

Ontario Court of Appeal Justice William Hourigan has been appointed to lead the inquiry into stage 1 of Ottawa’s problematic light rail transit system. Hourigan has been tasked with exploring the following areas of enquiry: 

  •  Decisions on the procurement approach, selection of Rideau Transit Group and award of the alternative financing and procurement contract to RTG; 
  • Whether the city’s procurement process affected the technical standards for the Stage 1 design, construction, operation, maintenance, repair and rehabilitation; 
  • Whether the contract was adequate to ensure the design, construction, operation, maintenance, repair and rehabilitation of the project was done in accordance with all laws and industry standards, including performance and safety; 
  • Whether RTG and its subcontractors carried out those works in accordance with laws and industry standards; and 
  • Whether the city’s oversight of the Stage 1 project was adequate, including decisions that led to the project being deemed substantially complete and the associated testing to support the declaration. 

Justice Hourigan has until August 31, 2022, to deliver his report.    

More Election Speculation and Gossip 

The PCs in Durham have chosen lawyer and former partner of the late federal and provincial Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and his widow Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliott, Todd McCarthy, to carry their banner into the June 2022 Ontario general election. This is McCarthy’s third kick at the can having lost to incumbent Liberal MPP Joe Dickson in the Ajax riding in 2011 and 2014.  

Durham is currently held by former PC and current Independent MPP Lindsey Park who was ejected from the party’s caucus because of uncertainties about her vaccination status and has indicated that she will not seek re-election. McCarthy stands a pretty good chance in this one. 

The PCs in Oshawa have selected real estate agent and communications specialist Alex Down as their candidate for the upcoming June 2022 provincial general election. She will square off against the NDP incumbent MPP Jennifer French who was first elected in 2014 and elected again in 2018. 

Prior to French’s election, the riding was Tory blue dating back to 1995 and NDP orange prior to that.  It will be an uphill battle for the Liberal standard-bearer, former vice president of compliance of large financial institution, Catherine Mosca, in a riding where the Girts have never fared well. Could be an NDP hold but the campaign will determine the victor.   

To the surprise of almost everyone, on January 7, 2022 PC MPP for the riding of Elgin-Middlesex-London, Jeff Yurek, announced that he will be resigning his seat in the Ontario legislature in February. The 50-year-old pharmacist from St Thomas, first elected in 2011 and re-elected handily in 2014 and 2018, held several ministerial positions following the election of the Doug Ford government before being shuffled out of cabinet in June 2021.  

From 1999 to 2011 the riding was held by popular Liberal MPP and former Speaker Steve Peters so this one could be a toss-up depending upon the candidates the Grits and the Tories present to the voters and their strength of the campaigns.   

Former police officer current municipal councillorTrevor Jones is the PC candidate in Chatham—Kent—Leamington, currently held by former Tory and current Independent Rick Nicholls. Nicholls was expelled from the party caucus over COVID vaccination issues. First elected in 2011, Nichols had previously stated that he would not seek re-election but is currently believed to be reconsidering another run under the banner of the Ontario Party. We think Jones stands a pretty good chance in June. 

Former public servant Tom Dawson is the Liberal candidate in the solidly PC riding of Carleton.  The incumbent is PC MPP Goldie Ghamari who despite her questionable history in her prior practice as a lawyer, won the riding handily in 2018.   

York Centre 
The Liberals will attempt to win back the riding of York Centre with retired human rights lawyer Shelly Brown as their standard-bearer. Brown will face off against incumbent Roman Baber who was first elected in 2018 as a PC but who was removed from the Tory caucus in January 2021 because of his opposition to the public health restrictions that the Ford government imposed at the time. 

From 1985 to 2018 the riding was represented by Liberal MPP Monte Quinter so the Grits may stand a chance in York Centre.    

Hastings-Lennox and Addington 
Former hospital executive and current part-time professor at St Lawrence College in Kingston, Ted Darby, will go to battle on behalf of the Liberals in Hastings-Lennox and Addington against incumbent PC MPP Darryl Kramp. Kramp served in Parliament from 2004 until he was defeated in 2015 and then was elected to Queen’s Park in the 2018 election.    
The Liberal candidate in Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston is elementary school teacher and former Missippi Mills town councillor Amanda Pulker-Mok.  The Tories are yet to name their standard-bearer in this traditionally conservative riding. The incumbent is the independent and rebellious Randy Hillier. 

Hillier was first elected in 2007 and re-elected with wide margins of victory in 2011, 2014 and 2018 as a PC. Often mixed up in controversy, Hillier was excised from caucus for making disrespectful comments about parents of children with autism. It will be interesting to see where this riding falls in the June 2022 contest. 

Our guess at this point in time, likely a toss-up between Hillier and the yet-to-be-named Tory candidate.   

Toronto Centre 
Human rights and environmental activist Nicki Ward will carry the Green Party banner into the June 2022 Ontario general election.  Her chances however appear to be slim. The seat is currently held by NDP MPP Suze Morrison who won her place in the Ontario legislature in 2018 when the Liberals were thrown out of power. 

The seat had previously been held by Liberals Glen Murray and before him George Smitherman.  The Liberal candidate is David Morris, a member of the LGBTQ community and a community activist with a background in the Ontario public service. The question that will be answered in June is, “Can the Libs win this one back?” We think it’s a long shot. 

Scarborough Centre 
First time Scarborough Centre PC MPP  Christina Mitas  recently announced that she will not be seeking re-election in June 2022. The independent thinking Mitas, although a strong backer of Premier Ford, has broken ranks with her party on a number of issues in her time at Queen’s Park. She remains the only unvaccinated PC Member in the legislature, is pregnant with her third child and wants to spend more time attending to the needs of her young family. 

A little more than a month before the June 2018 election she was appointed by Ford as the Tory candidate in Scarborough Centre and was able to wrestle the riding out of Liberal hands by a thin majority. The Tories new candidate has not yet been selected. 

From 2003 to 2018 Scarborough Centre was Liberal red, represented by popular former cabinet minister Brad Duguid who did not compete in the 2018 contest. Prior to Duguid, the riding was held by Tories’ Marilyn Mushinski and Dan Newman. The riding has a history of going with the tide and was even in NDP hands during the time of the Bob Rae government.    
The Liberal candidate is Mazhar, a former engineer and political staffer who ran against Mitas and ended up in third place in 2018. The NDP candidate is also a repeater from the 2018 contest, Zeyd Bismilla who was about 2,000 votes behind Mitas.   

This should be an interesting one to keep an eye on.  
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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