Amina Dibe / RESCON
On June 12, Doug Ford’s newly elected PC government made its first throne speech which outlined a broad plan for Ontario and its future.
Election promises regarding respect for taxpayers were expanded upon, as the government emphasized its campaign slogan “for the people.” The throne speech set the wheels of policy in motion, and the Ford government has been moving quickly ever since.
At RESCON, we are a strong voice for residential builders in Ontario -- major high-, mid- and low-rise residential construction companies -- and already have been working on projects and reports that are pertinent to the government’s mandate. As we have with previous governments, RESCON will continue to strategically engage with ministers and ministries that affect the day-to-day and long-term business operations of our members.
While our advocacy approach is multi-faceted, there are specific issues that that fall under the jurisdiction of key ministries. The chart below details which ministries and issues are currently of relevance to RESCON.
Minister: Hon. Laurie Scott
Issue: Bill 148 – Changes to the Ontario Labour Relations Act and Employment Standards Act.
Our take: The former Liberal government’s expert reviewers and minister’s office indicated construction was not the focus and should be exempted from Bill 148. However, at the last-minute construction was included. Unintended consequences, including issues related to personal emergency leave days and scheduling requirements, have and will occur illustrating the need to exempt construction.
Ministry: Municipal Affairs and Housing
Minister: Hon. Steve Clark
Issue: Streamlining the development approvals process and removing unnecessary red tape.
Our take: As outlined in RESCON’s report “Streamlining the Development and Building Approvals Process in Ontario,” there are several initiatives the government can take to improve the supply of housing by removing regulatory barriers and meeting legislated timelines. This includes improving the permitting system by adopting a tech-centric approach and implementing e-permitting software in municipal offices across the province.
Ministry: Training, Colleges and Universities
Minister: Hon. Merrilee Fullerton
Issue: Improve pathways into the skilled trades and address the skills gap by promoting careers in construction.
Our take: Construction is facing a demographic crunch and employers, colleges, training centres and the government all have a part to play. Government should:
1. Promote and remove barriers to pathways into the trades.
2. Meet with employers to better understand the essential skills needed in today’s workplace.
3. Plan for the future to ensure future labour demands can be met.
Minister: Hon. Lisa Thompson
Issue: Increase in school resources for students, guidance counsellors and teachers to improve pathways into the construction industry.
Our take: There is a lack of information/resources about pathways and careers in the skilled trades compared to college and university. In a guidance counsellor’s office, there are walls for university and college opportunities, but never skilled trades opportunities. We need to fill this “Third Wall.”
We believe there should be more outreach with educators, parents and guidance counsellors regarding post-secondary pathways in the skilled trades. Employers and the education system need to foster relationship building to ensure parents, teachers and students get a better understanding of what a job in the skilled trades is all about. Trades jobs are good jobs.
Ministry: Environment, Conservation and Parks
Minister: Hon. Rod Phillips
Issue: Greater balance is required with respect to climate change initiatives and the impact they have on construction costs as well as housing affordability. All greenhouse gas reduction measures should undergo a rigorous cost-benefit analysis. Streamline the approval process for infrastructure projects.
Our take: Under the directive of the previous Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), as well as the policy framework set out by the Climate Change Action Plan, tremendous change was being thrust on the buildings sector through rapid progression and further proposed changes to the Ontario Building Code.
RESCON and an affiliated infrastructure group, RCCAO, have been working with the Ministry of the Environment to streamline the approvals process for infrastructure projects including water, sewer and watermain, and transportation projects. An unnecessarily lengthy class EA process results in additional costs. These municipal environmental assessments are in addition to the review and consultation process undertaken by municipalities for new official plan updates and amendments and for secondary plans. This delays construction of vital infrastructure; it can be substantially modernized and streamlined.
It is unknown what the direction will be of the newly formed ministry with respect to regulations affecting the building industry, as well as what will be the fate of many yet-to-be finalized policies initiated by the former ministry.
FOR THE PEOPLE
RESCON will continue to advocate on behalf of our members. A new government brings new opportunities to foster working relationships, and RESCON is eager to meet with the ministers and ministries to ensure we are all working “for the people.”
Amina Dibe is a policy and programs analyst for RESCON with a focus on training and apprenticeship, health and safety, and government relations. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.