We are pleased to present this issue of FRONTLINE the Ontario Construction Consortium Newsletter – for July - August 2021.

We are pleased to present this issue of FRONTLINE the Ontario Construction Consortium Newsletter – for July – August 2021. This newsletter will be published every two months – to update you on OCC initiatives and events. We hope you find it informative. Visit our website – it showcases our publications and activities and is regularly updated.

If you have any questions about OCC. Email –

The Ontario Construction Consortium – a new voice for quality work, a robust training sector and safe workplaces.

 Formed in 2018, the Ontario Construction Consortium is an organization dedicated to strengthening the construction industry through Advocacy, Education, Networking and Workforce Development.

The Other Pandemic – campaign progress

OCC’s campaign to raise awareness of the high rate of deaths by drug toxicity continued through the summer. On September 1, we will be presenting to a meeting convened by Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Eileen De Villa.

Here are the major points we will be making to the group on Sept 1:

  • The Ontario Construction Consortium and the Carpenters’ Union were hearing anecdotally throughout 2020 that construction workers in various parts of Ontario were dying of drug overdose

  • We were on a large-scale Zoom call in February of 2021. Over 2000 participants heard from Carpenters Union International President Douglas McCarron that data published by the Centres for Disease Control in the US showed that one-third of employed people who died from overdose in 2020 were construction workers

  • Mr. McCarron asked that all districts and locals do something to draw attention to this crisis. This was to be a priority.

  • OCC did a preliminary investigation and found that there were no comparable statistics available in Canada. But we believed the situation would be similar here.

  • We decided an information campaign directed at construction workers and the general public was needed.

  • This was the genesis of The Other Pandemic Campaign.

  • We started planning the elements of the campaign in March

  • The campaign was to consist of:

    • A news release and media interviews
    • A website:
    • Full page advertorials sponsored by the Carpenters’ Union in the Toronto Sun and The National Post
    • A video featuring comments by health experts and community leaders o Emails to construction industry stakeholders
  • We engaged the assistance of experts in the field – Dr. Andrea Sereda of The London Intercommunity Health Centre and Nick Boyce of the Ontario Harm Reduction Network

  • We received endorsements and offers of help from the Ontario Construction Secretariat, the Ontario General Contractors Association, The Ontario Residential Construction Association, the Central Ontario Building Trade Council and other industry groups.

  • Of those people who were employed at the time of their death 30% were employed in construction work. No other employment category even came close.

  • We launched The Other Pandemic campaign on May 31st – What were our key recommendations?

    1. Drug users should not use alone. They should either go to a supervised injection site, or at the very least use in the presence of another trusted individual with access to a Naloxone kit. We know that this ran counter to the overall Covid 19 messaging at that time to society as a whole – which was to stay at home, do not congregate with people outside your family etc. But for a hard drug user, this was not the best advice. They should not use alone.
    2. Because of the implications of recommendation 1, we urged all construction workers to get vaccinated against Covid 19 – to reduce the chances of becoming infected.
    3. Thirdly, contractors and construction unions must step up their education and counselling programs to inform all workers of the dangers inherent in using street drugs.
    4. Governments need to increase addiction and mental health counselling services to meet this unprecedented demand. We conveyed this message to Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton and Mental Health and Addictions Minister Michael Tibollo.
    5. Finally, we urged workers who are wrestling with addictions to seek help to try to stop. With a public health crisis manifesting itself in deaths in one hear, there has never been a better time to stop using hard drugs if at all possible.
  • We are pleased to report that the Ontario Government is taking some action on this situation.

  • On June 21st, Labour Minister McNaughton announced a research project at the De Novo Treatment Centre in Huntsville to study and provide support for addiction and suicide issues in the construction industry. This project will develop a report and create tools for training centres, unions and employers to better understand and address mental health. Funding is coming out of the government’s Skills Development Fund, which was part of the 2021 Budget.

  • At the time of the announcement, Minister McNaughton said, ‘The Other Pandemic Campaign helped focus attention on this important issue.’

McNaughton announces new funding for training

Labour Minister Monte McNaughton announced in late July that the Ontario Government is investing over $600,000 to help 390 urban youth train and secure apprenticeships in the construction sector.

This investment will open doors to lifelong careers as plumbers, steamfitters, electricians, elevator mechanics and refrigeration technicians through The Hammer Heads, a non-profit organization that supports underprivileged youth in partnership with the Pinball Clemons Foundation and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 353.

McNaughton said “Premier Doug Ford and I are laser-focused on helping young people pursue in-demand, well-paying and meaningful jobs in the skilled trades.


FRONTLINE is a publication of the the Ontario Construction Consortium – a think tank / lobby supported by unionized contractors and stakeholders from the province’s construction sector. We welcome your feedback. You can unsubscribe at any time by emailing with the word Unsubscribe in the subject line.