Guest column: New government moving too quickly?

Wayne Peterson, executive director of the Construction Employers Co-Ordinating Council of Ontario, write the following viewpoint in the council’s Dispatch newsletter before labour negotiations commenced. While some months have passed since he write these words, they remain relevant today.

By Wayne Peterson
Executive director, Construction Employers Co-ordinating Council of Ontario

While reflecting on past negotiations, it appears this session has commenced at a turtle’s pace with most trades not holding initial formal meetings until well past mid-February. I can foresee that it’s going to be an extremely busy time as we move into late March and April.

Through our various group discussions, we have determined that managements’ main concerns revolve around the new cannabis legislation and how employees report “fit for work,” alleviating ongoing labour shortages by allowing personnel to move from one area of the province to another in a timely and economical fashion, and ensuring any wage increase will not cripple the unionized contractor’s ability to secure work.

I believe the labour hierarchy understands the need for fair and equitable contracts, but may need to be reminded of the aggressive approach being taken by the non-union and alternate sectors. We must all lobby for legislative change and work hand in glove for the advancement of the unionized contractor.

Reviewing the first six months of our new Ontario Government at the helm, I wonder if they are moving forward with legislation at too rapid a pace? We understand the need to repeal a number of items instituted by the past Liberal Government, but we question the implementation of other initiatives.

For example, the recently introduced Bill 47 – Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018, repealed a number of sticking points from Bill 148 – Fair Workplace, Better Jobs Act 2017, namely the personal emergency leave (PEL) issue and the scheduling clauses that were to come into effect on January 1, 2019. However, the move to disband the Ontario College of Trades (OCoT) in the same Bill without full and formal consultation with the industry, or the provision of an industry-approved replacement, certainly raises the question of the government’s competency with regards to understanding our industry’s needs.

Then there is Bill 66 – Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018. Specifically, Schedule 9 of that Bill which is another questionable piece of legislation. We do not know the reasoning behind this legislation, but on the surface, it appears that it is the result of lobbying efforts by non-union and alternate union forces.

The government appears to be enamored with the propaganda released by CARDUS, a relatively small, faith-based research group. Their propaganda advises that open bidding would save the government as much as 40 per cent of a project’s cost. We know this is to be extremely inaccurate. The Provincial Government needs to slow down and do a proper investigation into cost differences, and take all aspects of a completed, well-performed project into account before enacting new legislation. CECCO lobbied for the positive changes that came with Bill 47, and we will continue to lobby in order to have a say in the Ministry of Training, Colleges and University’s structural governance and the replacement for the OCoT that will meet our needs. Additionally, we will lobby to have Schedule 9 removed from Bill 66 to ensure the health of the unionized sector is maintained.


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