October 2022

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

Ministry Dragging Its Feet on Health and Safety Proposals 

Occupational health and safety is among the highest priorities on construction sites, and ensuring that all workers return home at night safe and sound after a day’s work is of paramount importance. But despite the industry’s commitment to health and safety, every year, between 15 and 30 workers in the construction industry die from traumatic workplace causes, and another approximately 300 suffer life-changing critical workplace injuries. 

More than twenty years ago, the Provincial Labour-Management Health and Safety Committee (PLMHSC) was established under Section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act to advise the Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MLITSD) on matters relating to occupational health and safety in the construction industry. Comprised of equal numbers of labour and management representatives, advised by senior staff from the MLITSD (policy, operations and prevention branches) and resourced and supported administratively by the professionals at the IHSA, the PLMHSC takes its mandate seriously and meets diligently every month to consider ways to reduce fatalities and injuries on construction sites. 

One of the most impressive qualities of the PLMHSC is that it is both proactive in developing and advancing solutions to make construction workplaces safer on its own initiative and is reactive by responding thoughtfully to formal ministry consultations and initiatives.   

There are currently ten proposals that will improve workplace health and safety on construction sites that have been proactively thoughtfully developed and thoroughly vetted by the PLMHSC through its extensive network of regional, trade and sector committees that have been advanced to the ministry, on which no action has been taken. These proposals seem to have fallen into a black hole or some great abyss, and no reasons for inaction have been given, no explanations offered.  

Some of these proposals are more than five years old (debris netting, tower cranes) 

Among the proposals developed proactively by the PLMHSC, some more than five years old,  are the following: 

  • Debris Netting – High Rise Construction (October 2015) 
  • Tower Crane WG (2015) 
  • Power Elevated Work Platform (Feb 2019) 
  • Raised Box Indicators (Dump Trucks) (Feb 2019) 
  • Rodworkers Fall Protection (May 2019) 
  • Dismantling of Formwork (Sept 2020) 
  • Demolition Regulation Changes – Demolition Sections (May 2021)  
  • Occupational Disease Designated Substances - Section 30 of the Act (Feb 2022) 
  • Narrow Framed Scaffold Section 70 (Feb 2022) 
  • Scientific diving operations - O. Reg. 629/94: Diving Operations (Feb 2022)  
COCA recently joined a coalition of industry leaders to urge the government to respect the hard work of the PLMHSC and, at the very least, give serious consideration to adopting the industry-approved proposals that the PLMHSC has recommended in order to reduce injuries and fatalities on construction worksites.
Celebration to Honour Martha George 

Few people have made a greater contribution to the success of the construction industry over the last twenty years than Martha George. Martha recently stepped down from her role as President & CEO of the Grand Valley Construction Association (GVCA), the association she inspired, mobilized and led for 16 years. So, a big celebration is being planned, details are as follows: 

Date: Thursday, November 10, 2022 
Time: 5:30 – 9:00 pm 
Location: Tapestry Hall, 74 Grand Avenue S, Cambridge, Ontario  
To recap Martha’s remarkable background and impressive accomplishments: 
  • Initially, she worked in the industry alongside her husband Doug as Vice President of George Masonry for many years, where she became a Gold Seal Certified Estimator 
  • As a volunteer, she served actively on the Board of Directors of the GVCA, where she served a term as Chair and on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Construction Association (CCA) 
  • When the position of President & CEO of the GVCA became available,  she decided to take on the new challenge as an association executive and needless to say, she hit the ground running. 
  • Over her 16 years at the helm of the GVCA, she has strengthened the membership, introduced new and innovative programming, and elevated the association’s profile in the local industry, in the community it serves and across Ontario and Canada. 
  • For many years Martha was an extremely active participant in the affairs of the CCA, serving in many different capacities; the GVCA and its members were annual award recipients at CCA conventions, including winning the CCA Gold Seal Award, the CCA Outstanding Association Award and the CCA Safety Award. 
  • Martha has also been very active with COCA as a member of our Board of Directors, the Executive Committee, the COO Committee and various policy task forces and committees; Martha is both an enthusiastic ambassador and a champion for our provincial construction federation and she has received every COCA recognition available to her including our highest honour, the COCA Hard Hat Award of Excellence. 
  • In 2012 Martha was awarded Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her important contributions to the construction industry, and in 2022, she was named Community Leader of the Year by the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce. 
  • She was appointed by the government of Ontario to serve on the Appointments Council for the Ontario College of Trades, an Order In Council appointment to the body that appointed individuals to OCoT’s governance structure. 
  • In her community, Martha has served on the Board of Governors of the University of Waterloo, the Board of Governors of Conestoga College and the Board of Directors of the Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation. 
  • Martha is a truly outstanding association executive, arguably the most imaginative, creative and energetic in the country; she is a role model for every association leader, maybe the best. 

Please consider attending the celebration to give Martha the kind of send-off she truly deserves.   
Construction Employment Declines in September – Statistics Canada 

Here are the highlights copied from Statistics Canada’s Labour Markey Survey for September: 
  • After dropping in August, employment was little changed (+21,000) in September, with both full-time and part-time work holding steady. 
  • Employment declined for a second consecutive month among young women aged 15 to 24 but increased among male youth and core-aged women in September. 
  • Gains in educational services and health care, and social assistance were offset by losses in manufacturing; information, culture and recreation; transportation and warehousing; and public administration. 
  • The number of employees in the public sector rose in September, partially offsetting declines recorded in July and August. Employment was little changed among employees in the private sector and among self-employed workers. 
  • Employment increased in four provinces, led by British Columbia, while there were fewer people working in Ontario and Prince Edward Island. 
  • Year-over-year wage growth remained above 5% for a fourth consecutive month, with the average hourly wages of employees rising 5.2% (+$1.57 to $31.67) compared with September 2021 (not seasonally adjusted). 
  • Total hours worked were down 0.6% in September. Despite declining by 1.1% since June, total hours worked were up 2.4% on a year-over-year basis. 
  • After increasing 0.5 percentage points to 5.4% in August, the unemployment rate dropped to 5.2% in September. 
  • The adjusted unemployment rate—which includes people who wanted a job but did not look for one—was little changed. 
  • In September, there were just under one million (983,000; 57.5%) people aged 55 to 64 who cited retirement as their main activity. 
  • While the employment rate among core-aged mothers was at a record high in September, those with a child under 16 were twice as likely (14.9%) to have decided not to apply for a job or a promotion over the previous 12 months than their male counterparts (7.1%). 

For Ontario, StatsCan goes on to report that: 

  • In September, Ontario’s unemployment rate was 5.8%, the employment rate was 60.8%, and the participation rate was 64.6% 
  • 31,500 fewer people were working in Ontario in September than in August, a drop of 0.4%; however, there was a 1.8% increase in the number of people working in Ontario in September 2022 over September 2021 
  • Construction employment fell 0.2% across Canada from August to September and declined in Ontario by 0.4%   
  • Construction employment increased from September 2021 to 2022 across Canada by 6.0% and in Ontario by 8.1% 
Minimum Wage Increased to $15.50/Hour 

Starting on October 1, 2022, the minimum wage in Ontario was increased from $15.00 per hour to $15.50.   

From January 1, 2018, to September 30, 2020, the minimum wage in the province was $14.00 per hour. It was increased to $14.25 per hour on October 1, 2020, then to $14.35 on October 1, 2021, then to $15.00 on January 1, 2022. 

For details, click on the following link:  
What’s Up With Skilled Trades Ontario? 

Has Skilled Trades Ontario (STO), the not-so-new agency established by our provincial government to promote careers in the skilled trades and to modernize apprenticeship, been given a free pass? 

Where are all the critics who were calling for the head on a plate of the former Ontario College of Trades’ registrar every time an attempt was made to modernize? What is going on? What progress is being made? The STO website says that they “have hit the ground running to improve trades training and simplify services tradespeople, employers and people across the province,” but most observers would suggest they hit the ground like a turtle on Nytol. 

Nothing but radio silence from STO to explain.  I have no reason to think that STO leadership is not fully competent and up to the job. In fact, I have only heard good things about the accomplishments made in the Atlantic Provinces. But communications and stakeholder outreach and engagement may not be a strength or a priority.   

  • What’s happening to apprentice registrations and completions? 
  • What’s happening on equivalencies? 
  • Where’s the one window into the skilled trades? 
  • Are apprenticeship learning standards/curricula being modernized? 
  • Any new initiatives to promote skilled trades careers? 
  • Is doing nothing the better option rather than doing something and risking criticism? 

Am I asking too much? Haven’t we simply lost four years on the apprenticeship modernization file at a time when there’s a critical shortage of skilled tradespeople. Are there any other stakeholders frustrated at the lack of communication if not the absence of any signs of progress? 
TSSA Safety Inspectors Ratify Contract 

The Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) is a self-funded not-for-profit corporation established in 1997 to promote and enforce public safety on behalf of the government of Ontario. The corporation is governed by a board of directors comprised of 13 directors, and management and administrative operations are carried out by a staff of approximately 100.   

On behalf of the government of Ontario, the TSSA provides safety inspections in three sectors: 

  • Boiler and pressure vessels and operating engineers 
  • Elevating devices, amusement devices and ski lifts 
  • Fuels 
The TSSA’s effective and timely inspections can be important to the success of construction projects, especially those involving the inspections of various workplace elevating devices. 
In early 2021 the TSSA’s 170 safety inspectors were certified by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union as OPSEU/SEFPO Local 546. Because collective bargaining to achieve a first agreement were unsuccessful, the inspectors went on strike on July 21st. After 11 weeks on strike, which caused disruptions to a number of construction projects, the representatives of the workplace parties finally reached an agreement which was ratified by the inspectors on October 8th.   TSSA inspectors are back on the job.
Could Bevilacqua Be the Next Liberal Party Leader? 

In an article posted on October 7th, City News suggests that Maurizio Bevilacqua may be considering a run at the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party. Here’s the skinny on Bevilacqua: 
  • He is 62 years of age 
  • Came to Canada from his native Italy with his family at age 10 
  • He earned a BA from York University and an MA from Fordham University 
  • First elected as a Member of Parliament in 1988 with a margin of only 77 votes; that election was nullified but he was re-elected in a 1990 by-election and again in general elections in 1993 (by a record margin of victory of more than 51,000 votes), 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2008 
  • Ran unsuccessfully for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada in 2006 
  • Resigned as MP in 2010 to successfully run for mayor of Vaughan; was re-elected Mayor of Vaughan in 2014 and 2018 
  • Earlier this year he announced that he would not be seeking re-election as mayor of Vaughan 
  • When asked by City News, Bevilacqua did not deny that he was considering a run for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal party 
Government Hopes to Extend Life of Pickering Generating Station 

Ontario Power Generation has responded to an enquiry from the province’s Energy Minister, Todd Smith, saying that it can safely maintain the operation the Pickering Generating Station until 2026. The plant was scheduled for closure in 2025 but with the province facing an electricity supply shortfall, Smith had asked OPG about the continued safe operation of the plant.    

Here’s what you should know: 

  • Constructed by Ontario Hydro in stages between 1965 and 1986, the Pickering Generating Station is among the oldest nuclear plants in the world. 
  • It originally was comprised of 8 reactors that operated as two distinct plants - Pickering A: unit A1 (commissioned July 29, 1971), unit A2 (commissioned December 30, 1971), unit A3 (commissioned June 1, 1972) and unit A4 (commissioned June 17, 1973); and Pickering B: unit B5 (commissioned May 10, 1983), unit B6 (commissioned February 1, 1984), unit B7 (commissioned January 1, 1985) and unit B8 (commissioned February 28, 1986) 
  • A2 was decommissioned on May 28, 2007, and A3 was decommissioned on October 31, 2008; both are in a safe shutdown state and defueled; the management of the six remaining reactors was streamlined into a single operating unit. 
  • In 2021 the Pickering Generating Station supplied 14% of the province’s electricity supply. 
  • The extension of the licence to operate Pickering requires the approval of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and OPG has applied to the CNSC to keep A1 and A4 operational until December 2024 and B5, B6, B7, and B8 operational until December 2026 
  • Pickering Generating Station directly employs about 4,500 people. 
Ontario’s electricity supply crunch is due in large part to two factors: 
  • Reduced supply as a result of refurbishment projects at Darlington and Bruce nuclear power plants that have taken reactors offline  
  • Increased demand for power from electric vehicles, electrification of transit systems and other pressures to electrify in order to reduce carbon emissions 
The government has also asked OPG to examine whether the Pickering B units are worth refurbishing, a process that can see a plant produce power for another 30 years. 
Other facts: 
  • Shortly after its election in 2018, the Ford government cancelled 750 green energy contracts 
  • The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) recently awarded six new electricity generating contracts (4 contracts that accounted for 90% of the new generation are natural gas, and two were for wind power and storage) that were supposed to replace the generation lost when the Pickering Generating Station was shutdown 
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.

COCA Corporate Partners
HUB is a global insurance brokerage that puts you at the center of everything we do. Our reach and resources mean you have the insurance you need when you need it — and before you know you need it.

HUB provides complete protection: property, casualty, life and health insurance products; employee benefits and business risk management; and wealth management products and services.
Visit us at www.hubinternational.com to learn more.
Sherrard Kuzz Logo
Sherrard Kuzz LLP is one of Canada’s leading employment and labour law firms exclusively representing the interests of management. 

Recognized as a leading provider of strategic advice and effective employment and labour relations representation within the construction industry, our team is consistently named among Canada’s Top 10 Employment and Labour Boutiques

Visit us at https://www.sherrardkuzz.com/ to learn more
TwoGreySuits (TGS) is a fully loaded on-line Human Resources Department specifically designed to meet the people management needs of small and medium sized enterprises. 

TGS has created a seven module core training product.

This core program will be enhanced over time with information webinars of specific interest and benefit to small and medium sized businesses. 

Visit us at https://twogreysuits.com/ to learn more

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