OGCA president’s report: Highlights of the year ahead

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By Clive Thurston

President, Ontario General Contractors Association

I would like to wish everybody a very happy new year and hope that you had a good break over the holidays.

The OGCA will be involved in a number of key things in the coming year. Here are some of the highlights that we will be working on.

Tendering

We will continue to engage with Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario in their joint committees to help improve procurement wherever possible. In particular, we are working with the current PMSPs on a joint presentation to I/O to help improve the procurement system.

We have joint meetings with the 3P partners to address concerns regarding risk and capacity.

We continue to work with the CDAO on a number of procurement issues across the board – everything from environmental approvals, soil disposal, noise and access problems within major municipalities, and general procurement practices.

We’ll be rolling out training on the new CCDC2, highlighting the changes that have been made which are not insignificant.

We are continuing to give input with regards to the updating of other documents, in particular to do with construction management.

One of the most important items, at this time, will be to spearhead an industry-wide opposition to the use of reprisal clauses by public buyers. Members will see much more on this in the near future.

Government relations

We will once again be hosting our Lobby Day on May 6. This has been an exciting and positive event each year and has gotten better and better. More details will become available shortly and members will see just how strongly your organization is representing you at Queen’s Park.

We are working with the government and our industry partners in the Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance to keep the skilled trades shortage a priority with the government. The changes that have been announced to date closely reflect our recommendations. Last Friday, Minister Monte McNaughton launched a media campaign promoting the trades to young people, a welcomed initiative. In the next few weeks, we expect to receive the final details of the wind down of the Ontario College of Trades.

OSTA is now preparing a policy paper and recommendations for the government on Training and credentials.

Health and safety

We are preparing for meetings with the WSIB to confirm the separation of the residential and ICI sectors in the new G1 classification. We are working towards a 2021 change that will reduce the industry cost for non-residential builders.

On February 12, we are running a half-day seminar on the new safety programs and incentives. The focus will be on the new SOSE accreditation program from the Chief Prevention Officer, a presentation of the new COR 2020 by Paul Casey of the IHSA, and the Health and Safety Excellence Program by the WSIB.

The old programs have been replaced and there is opportunity for contractors to improve their safety program and receive financial recognition.

On March 6, we will hold our annual Leadership Conference. This year, we will focus on your fit for duty program with presentations on mental health, the results of a survey on the use of cannabis in the workplace, and recommendations on managing your program.

Construction Act

We are actively involved with other stakeholders to bring to the attention of the government the need for some fine-tuning within the current Construction Act. We are working with a number of organizations and hope to make a presentation to the government within the next few months, so that these changes can be made to help smooth out the operation of this very important Act and its impact on our industry.

We are involved with the GCAC (General Contractors Association of Canada) on federal prompt payment and adjudication regulations. Consultations on this will be occurring shortly and we will be actively involved.

The OGCA has completed the issuance of two manuals to assist contractors and subtrades on practices they should be looking at adopting to ensure a smooth transition to the new system.

There is no doubt, by what we are already seeing, that a number of municipalities and public buyers are inventing ways to try to get around the rules and stretch them to their ultimate breaking point. We, along with our partners, are aware of these attempts and are documenting them. We will be issuing warnings to not only the owners who are trying this, but to our members to be careful when bidding these owners.

In general

Members will see an increase in promotional information and webinars that will be provided free of charge to members on key issues impacting our industry and how you do business within it.

Our newly-formed Technical Committee will become more engaged in identifying new and interesting innovations that can be used to improve your business.

Preparation for the 2021 symposium will begin this year, again to be held in Collingwood.

The announcement of the new President is expected to be made during the first week of March. This is an exciting time for the organization as we move into new leadership.

These are but some of the highlights of the top issues that will be engaging your organization over the coming year. There is much more, and members can keep up to date through the newsletter which we encourage you to circulate to all of your employees, and our website.

Thank you for your continued support. Together, we are making a difference in improving this industry, not just for general contractors for all stakeholders.

Clive Thurston is the OGCA’s president.

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