FRONTLINE - The Ontario Construction Consortium Newsletter


We are pleased to present this issue of FRONTLINE the Ontario Construction Consortium Newsletter – for May – June 2020.
This newsletter will be published every two months – to update you on OCC initiatives and events. We hope you find it informative.

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.

COVID 19 – A Solid Safety Record

From the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic the Ontario Construction Consortium advocated strongly for the health and safety of the province’s construction workers. We were aware of many job sites where robust measures were not in place to minimize the spread of the virus – and we became a leading voice for putting solid protections in place. A record of our many statements and interviews on this can be found on our website – The Minister of Labour listened and many of the recommendations from construction labour and industry groups were put in place. As a result, there were very few cases of infections traceable to construction sites – we believe only 12 – 15 illnesses. This is a solid record of achievement – every worker and manager should be proud.
The Ontario Government issued guidelines for construction site health and safety during the crisis. These included information on how workers could raise their concerns, reporting requirements for employers and a comprehensive list of best practices. Physical spacing was emphasized as well as good hygiene practices. Job sites were to have adequate fresh water and FRONTLINE 2 hand sanitizer onsite, and workers were advised to wear gloves and facemasks. Here is the link to the government bulletin: Read More

The Best Laid Plans

In March of this year many construction industry members attended the Ontario Construction Secretariat’s excellent Outlook Conference at the Toronto Congress Centre. The presenters there painted a picture of the state of the industry – their projections based on the best research available at that time. With the explosion of the COVID 19 pandemic, much changed shortly after this meeting.
OCC Phil Gillies wrote an article for ReNew Canada infrastructure magazine published in early May. The question being – where were we in early March and where are we now?
The link to that article is here: Read Article

The Case for Infrastructure Investment

The impact of the pandemic on the construction industry is also a major concern. OCC has advocated for public infrastructure investment in the coming months – this has proven to be a solid stimulus in the wake of past national crises. In the wake of the near collapse of parts of the banking sector in 2008 the Harper government announced $182 billion in stimulus spending over the subsequent decade.
The question is – will such stimulus spending happen after the COVID 19 crisis has passed? There have been some mixed signals. In May the Ontario Government announced the cancellation of the $300 million Halton Region Consolidated Courthouse project. This caused considerable alarm in the construction sector. A broad coalition of trade unions, contractors’ associations and municipalities decried the project being axed – penning a strongly worded letter to Premier Doug Ford. This project was generally seen as a victim of the pandemic – but was the courthouse axed because of the pandemic or other factors?
This was the question OCC posed to Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips in a phone meeting held on June 11th.
We asked the Minister whether the courthouse cancellation heralded a wider belt tightening with respect to the Province’s capital spending plans. Minister Phillips said that we should not draw that conclusion. He said that the government had concluded there were new methods of dealing with legal matters before the courts that did not require the construction of brick and mortar facilities. We take from this that Ontarians can expect to see more proceedings held remotely through Zoom, Skype etc.
Minister Phillips assured OCC that he is looking at a good number of shovel-ready construction projects, and that some were the subject of ongoing discussions with the Federal Government. The Minister also reminded us that in early June the government announced contracts for the early stages of building the new Ontario Subway Line in Toronto.
There are also indications that the Federal Government is looking at ‘shovel ready’ projects that can be approved quickly and create jobs immediately. Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna appears poised to put out billions of dollars in construction projects to stimulate the economy.

This was the subject of an article in The Daily Commercial News by OCC Phil Gillies. Here is the link to that column: Read More

In this pre-pandemic photo, Phil Gillies chats with Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips.

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.