A Message from COCA Chair Don Gosen
Don Gosen joined the Board of the Council of Ontario Construction Associations January 31, 2008 and has sat on the Executive Committee since 2009. He was elected COCA Chairman on February 23, 2012. Don is a member of the Grand Valley Construction Association and served as their Chair in 2008.
When I look around our table at our COCA Board meetings, it's a little bit like being at a site meeting in a job trailer. Well, OK - the floor is a little cleaner, the place probably smells a little better, but the people at the COCA table represent a good cross section of our Construction Industry. I am proud to be a part of this team.
While your construction teams in the job trailer are focused on projects, we at COCA are focused on creating a smoother path for our Construction Industry in Ontario. This often involves working with various branches of the Government, MOL, WSIB, AG, Training, and IO. We also have an obligation to encourage and support the work of our local district Construction Associations.
The Grand Valley Construction Association recently hosted the Building Excellence Awards in
Kitchener. This event is an opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of the Grand Valley contractors, trades and trades people. The projects featured during the course of the evening are a tribute to our industry, our teamwork, and to our people.
I had the privilege of meeting with the Ottawa Construction Association in late April. The OCA has a history going back to 1886. Their archives and pictures are a testament to well over 100 years of serving and supporting the construction industry. The day following my visit to Ottawa, I attended the Ontario Skills Competition at RIM Park in Waterloo. This event is an inspiration for anyone in skilled trades with the Construction being particularly well represented. It is especially encouraging to see the enthusiasm of our young people as they learn about careers in the trades.
The Construction Industry in Ontario is an engine for the growth, prosperity and success of our province. It is a great industry as evidenced at the GVCA Building Excellence evening, we
have an incredible heritage as seen at the Ottawa Construction Association and we have a fantastic and exciting future as evidenced at the Skills Ontario, Skills Canada event.
Witmer Nominated as WSIB Chair
Premier McGuinty recently announced that Tory MPP, Elizabeth Witmer, is his choice to succeed Steve Mahoney in the role of chair of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board when Mahoney's term expires on May 16th. Witmer's nomination is subject to a review by the Legislative Standing Committee on Government Agencies before her appointment if finalized.
Mrs. Witmer brings to her new position a superior intellect, an even disposition and a willingness to listen to the diverse views and perspectives of a wide range of stakeholders. In her 22 years in the Ontario Legislature, which included a stint as Minister of Labour in a government that ran on WSIB reform, Witmer was always respectful, thoughtful, balanced and moderate and she worked across the aisle to get things done. Her quiet elegance and class will be missed in the chamber.
We expect as chair, Mrs. Witmer will focus her attention on governance issues to ensure the WSIB has a high performing board of directors to confirm the organization's strategic direction and hold management accountable and that operations will remain in the hands of the WSIB's senior management professionals.
We congratulate Mrs. Witmer on her appointment and look forward to working with her to ensure the sustainability of Ontario's workers compensation system and to make it a competitive advantage for the Province.
WSIB Funding Review Report Finally Released
The long awaited report of the WSIB's Funding Review titled Funding Fairness was finally made public on Friday, May 4th. Click on the link below to find a document titled "Funding Fairness - Overview". It was developed by the WSIB and is reproduced here with their permission. It's a good summary of the key recommendations made by the Funding Review's chair, Professor Harry Arthurs, in his 188 page report. It's intended only as a summary of the Funding Fairness report and does not contain any analysis nor is it a critique. That will follow.
At the same time Funding Fairness was made public, the Minister of Labour announced the following commitments pursuant to Arthurs' recommendations in a news release:
- a new regulation will be established under the Workplace Safety and
Insurance Act, to require the WSIB's insurance fund to reach sufficiency of 60
per cent funding in 2017, 80 per cent funding in 2022 and a full 100 per cent
funding by 2027.
- benefits to injured workers on partial disability will be increased by 0.5
per cent in 2013 and another 0.5 per cent in 2014.
COCA is pleased with the government's commitment to achieve full funding by 2027 but is surprised with the increases in benefits to partially disabled workers. In Funding Fairness Arthurs recommends that benefits to partially disabled workers be fully indexed for inflation which would add approximately $2 B to the WSIB's unfunded liability. COCA cautioned against such a move and thought at worst the government might delay full indexation until the system is 60% funded and at best ignore the recommendation. It appears the delay in the public release of the report may have been due to negotiating a meeting of the minds at the WSIB and the Ministry of Labour.
Comprehensive College of Trades Update
There have been a a number of developments on the College of Trades file. A comprehensive update is available here.
Shifting Legislative Sands
Last fall's provincial election produced a Liberal minority government with the Liberals holding only
53 of the 107 seats in the Legislature, and the PCs 37 and the NDP 17. This left the opposition parties together with 54 votes, one more than the governing Liberals.
With the election of Liberal MPP Dave Levac as Speaker, the Liberals were effectively reduced to 52 seats. (The Speaker votes only to break a deadlock and traditionally votes with the government).
As a result of her appointment as chair of the WSIB, Tory MPP Elizabeth Witmer resigned as the MPP for the riding of Kitchener-Waterloo. A by-election must be held there within six months.
Many have said that Premier McGuinty would not have selected Witmer if he was not confident that his party has a very good chance of winning Kitchener-Waterloo and has a strong candidate waiting in the wings. It's been reported that Ontario Construction Secretariat CEO and Waterloo Regional Councilor Sean Strickland is considering seeking the Liberal nomination. A Liberal victory in the K-W riding would give the Liberals 54 seats (53 when you account for Speaker Levac) and the opposition parties combined with 53. Both the Liberals and PCs are expected to throw everything they've got at the by-election. A Liberal victory would tip the Liberals from
"Major minority" status into "minor majority" territory and would deal a serious blow to the PCs and their leader Tim Hudak. Stay tuned.
Construction fatalities and critical injuries continue to track better than 2011
Preliminary data from the Ministry of Labour (provided at the Provincial Labour Management
Health & Safety Committee) reports that the construction industry has improved its occupational health and safety performance over the same period last year.
From January 1 through April 30, 2012 the industry experienced 6 fatalities and 35 critical
injuries versus 8 fatalities and 42 critical injuries during the same period in 2011. Preliminary
data from the Ontario Ministry of Labour indicates that to date, the construction industry has an improved OH&S performance.
April saw one fatality, when a worker in the Road sector was run over by a dump truck on a
construction site. There were also 8 critical injuries during the month. Seven of the incidents were fall related and one was the result of a worker being struck by machinery. These critical injuries took place across the Commercial Building Construction (4), Residential (3) and Sewer Watermaine (1) sectors.
Though the data displays a modest improvement these injuries demonstrate the industry's struggle to make improvements reducing workplace injuries and deaths from slips, falls and strikes or crushes by equipment or materials.
unding Fairness - click here