May 2022

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

COCA’s Election Asks 

With an Ontario general election scheduled for June 2, 2022, COCA has asked all major political parties to commit to the following if elected to form government:  

A review of the Construction Act (as recommended by Reynolds and Vogel in their report “Striking the Balance” that led to the creation of the Act) 
Strengthen the province’s worker's compensation system by:
  • Transferring ministerial oversight for the WSIB from the Minister of Labour Training and Skills Development to the Ministry of Finance which is much better equipped with the financial and mathematical skills and understandings to oversee a large and complex insurance system 
  • Eliminate the 72-month lock-in provision, which is unique to Ontario and serves as a barrier to getting injured workers back to productive work  
Continue with long term commitments to the province’s core infrastructure maintenance and development with projects sequenced in a way that as much as possible smooths the demand for construction services, to ensure competitive prices from multiple bids and to avoid stretching beyond the capacity of the industry 
Ontario is currently in the midst of a severe construction skills shortage which is projected to continue well into the future. Commit to ensuring that the province’s new apprenticeship and skilled trades system, which includes the MLTSD’s Employment Training Division, the MLTSD’s Fair, Safe and Healthy Workplace Division and an agency called Skilled Trades Ontario (STO), becomes fully operational and begins its work at an accelerated pace to make up for four lost years. The new system must:  

  • address the needs of the province’s labour market and focus on in-demand trades,  
  • be easy to access  
  • deliver the up-to-date curriculum effectively  
  • provide the necessary support for apprentices and sponsors including financial supports  
  • hold training delivery agents and employers of apprentices accountable for the contributions they make to apprentices’ learnings and completions  
  • produce high apprentice completion rates  
  • evaluate trade equivalencies quickly and appropriately  
  • attract qualified young people to the fulfilling and rewarding careers in the construction industry in sufficient numbers to meet the skills gap.  
Work collaboratively with the federal government towards the admission into Ontario of a much greater number of immigrants with construction trades skills to help fill the skills gap in a more immediate way 
Provide relief for contractors from pandemic-related costs, project delay claims, and not reasonably anticipated skyrocketing increases in project input costs.
Election Non-Predictions 

Making predictions about the outcomes of elections can be a confounding and pointless exercise. Here’s what I am prepared to say about the Ontario general election scheduled for June 2, 2022: 

  • There are 124 seats in Ontario’s legislative assembly. 25 MPPs that were sitting MPPs at the end of the last provincial parliament (20%) will not be seeking re-election on June 2nd. The power of incumbency will be missing in the election campaigns in those 24 ridings, a factor which sometimes produces change. Regardless, there will be a lot of newcomers when our next provincial parliament commences 
  • The polls seem to be producing similar results with the Tories well in the lead  
  • In the June 2018 Ontario general election, the scandal-plagued and progressive policy overreaching Wynne Liberals were turfed from power, electing only 7 MPPs, but the Liberal brand has remained strong and the party that’s sometimes called “the natural governing party” with its unknown new leader Steven Del Duca has found itself in second place in most polls; seems progressive voters and traditional Liberal voters who were disgusted with the Grits and turned to the NDP in 2018 appear to be moving their votes back to the Libs this time 
  • Traditionally, downtown Toronto ridings, the Hamilton ridings, the Windsor ridings and most northern Ontario ridings are held by the NDP; the Tories could take a Hamilton riding, perhaps a Windsor and they think they have a chance at one of the new far north ridings 
  • It’s become cliché that elections are won and lost in the 905 area surrounding Toronto and that cliché will likely ring true once again on June 2nd as all three major parties do battle, particularly in Mississauga and Brampton 
  • The upcoming election will likely have one or two unexpected upsets where a competent, maybe long-serving incumbent who seemed like a cinch to win, loses 
  • There could be a traditionally Blue, Red or Orange riding that surprises us and turns another colour on June 2nd 
  • The most notable change in the 2022 election result could be a Liberal return to official party status and maybe even a Liberal return to Official Opposition status  

Those are my election non-predictions and please take note of the underlined "weasel words".
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.

Highlights of Statistics Canada April Labour Market Report 

Here are the highlights copied from Statistics Canada’s April Labour Market Report relating to our country’s labour market: 
Employment holds steady in April 
  • Employment was little changed in April 2022, after two consecutive months of growth. 
  • The employment rate held steady at 61.9%. 
  • Employment rose among core-aged women (+43,000; +0.7%) and declined among core-aged men (-36,000; -0.5%) in April. 
  • Employment increased in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Alberta, while it declined in Quebec. 
  • Employment gains in professional, scientific and technical services, as well as in public administration, were offset by declines in construction and retail trade. 
  • Total hours worked were down 1.9% in April, partly due to an increase in illness-related absences. 
  • In April, average hourly wages were up 3.3% (+$0.99 to $31.06) year over year, similar to the growth observed in March (+3.4%; +$1.03). 

Unemployment rate continues to decline 
  • After reaching a record low of 5.3% in March, the unemployment rate edged down 0.1 percentage points to 5.2% in April. 
  • The unemployment rate for people aged 25 to 54 fell 0.2 percentage points to 4.3%, the lowest recorded rate since comparable data became available in 1976. 
  • Long-term unemployment accounted for 20.6% of total unemployment in April 2022, up from the pre-pandemic February 2020 level of 15.6%. 

In respect of Ontario: 
  • 595,500 people worked in the construction industry in March 2021 and 595,400 in April, a decrease of 100  
  • In April 2022 there were 58,300 more people working in the construction industry than there were in April 2021, an increase of 10.9% 
  • In December 2021 Ontario’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.1%, in January 2022 it was 7.3%, in February 2022 5.5%, in March 2022 5.3% and in April 2022 5.4% 
  • The participation rate seasonally adjusted has remained steady at 65.5% in December, 65.0% in January, 65.4% in February, 65.4% in March and 65.5% in April 
Innovative Research Finds PCs Enter Campaign With Healthy Lead 

Here are the highlights of an Innovative Research survey of 1,409 Ontario residents weighted to n=1,000 and conducted between April 27th and May 2nd: 

  • If the election was held at the time the poll was taken, 37% would have voted PC, 29% Liberal, 24% NDP, 7% Green and 2% other 
  • 18% of respondents said they have a favourable view of Steven Del Duca, while 36% hold an unfavourable view, a net favourable of -18; Doug Ford’s net favourable of -15 and Andrea Horwath’s net favourable of -12  
  • Here’s an interesting feature about the PC vote that Innovative Research has identified “The Tories’ current strength largely comes from Premier Doug Ford’s personal brand, which remains distinct from his party’s. While 26% of Ontarians identify as partisan Conservatives, another 15% support Ford personally even though they do not identify as PC supporters. Ford provides his party access to an unusually large pool of voters relative to historical norms.” 

For more detail, click on the following link: 

Ipsos Poll Has Tories With Big Lead 

Here are some of the highlights of an Ipsos poll of 2,001 Ontarians aged 18+ (1,501 online and 500 by phone) conducted for Global News between April 29 and May 1, 2022:  

  • If the election took place at the time the poll was taken, 39% of decided respondents would have voted PC, an increase of 4% from Ipsos’ poll of a month ago but down 2% from the election in June 2018 
  • If the election took place at the time of the survey, 26% of decided respondents would have voted Liberal, a decrease of 6% from the previous month but up significantly from June 2018 
  • If the election took place at the time of the survey, 25% of decided respondents would have voted for the NDP which is an increase of 2% from the previous month’s poll but a 9% decrease from the June 2018 election  
  • 5% of decided respondents would have voted for the Greens, 6% would have voted for another party, 13% were undecided and 5% would not vote  
  • 40% of respondents approve of the performance of the Ford government and deserves re-election while 57% believe its time for a change in government 
  • 60% of Liberal respondents 52% of NDP respondents and 48% of PC respondents wished they had a different party leader 
  • 74% of respondents agreed that they will be voting for the party that has the best plan for helping make things more affordable for the middle class 
  • 49% of PC voters said they were absolutely certain about their choices while only 41% of Liberal voters and 43% of NDP voters were so certain 
For the full story including regional, age and gender breakdown of voter intentions, click on the following link: 
PCs Lead Liberals by 6.5% in Nanos Research Poll 

A Nanos Research hybrid telephone and online random survey of 500 Ontario residents aged 18 years of age or older, conducted between May 7th and 8th and published on May 9, 2022, produced the following results: 

  • If an election was held at the time the survey was taken, 35.4% of respondents would have voted PC, 30.4% Liberal, 23.7% NDP, 4.2% Green, 1.4% the Ontario Party, and 3.6% New Blue Party 
  • 29.0% said Doug Ford is their preferred premier (down from 29.9% the previous month’s survey) Andrea Horwath 20.3% (down from 22.8% the previous month), Steven Del Duca 24.1% (up from 17% the previous month), Mike Schreiner 4.0%, other 4.7% and unsure 8.7% 

Complete poll results are available by clicking on the following link: 
Liberal MPP Michael Gravelle Announces Retirement 
In 2017 Liberal MPP Michael Gravelle took time away from the legislature to deal with depression issues. He then returned to the legislature to continue his effective representation on behalf of the citizens of Thunder Bay-Superior North. Gravelle recently announced that he is now battling cancer and that he has decided not to seek re-election in order to fight the disease and take chemotherapy treatments. We wish him all the very best for a speedy recovery. 
Gravelle’s withdrawal leaves only two of the seven MPPs that were elected as Liberals in 2018 in the race, John Fraser and Mitzie Hunter.   

  • Michael Coteau resigned his seat in the Ontario legislature and was elected as an MP in the House of Commons in Ottawa; his seat in the legislature remained vacant until the legislature was dissolved to make way for the June 2022 election campaign  
  • Marie-France Lalonde resigned her seat in the Ontario legislature and became an MP in the House of Commons. Liberal Stephen Blais succeeded Lalonde winning a by-election 
  • Nathalie Desrosiers resigned her seat in the Ontario legislature to become the principal of Massey College; she was succeeded by Lucille Collard by way of a by-election 
  • Former Premier Kathleen Wynne is not seeking re-election 
Small business owner and two-term Thunder Bay city councillor Shelby Ch’ng will be the Liberal standard-bearer in Thunder Bay-Superior North in the upcoming general election.   
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COCA is the voice of our membership at Queen's Park.

We want to hear from you. All questions, ideas and comments are more than welcome.

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