It was not long ago that if someone blew on a cake, no one would think twice about eating it.
But the tremendous impact of the pandemic has meant rethinking how we live, work and play.
For Ontario’s construction industry the changes are significant. Increased health guidelines, screening techniques for workers, contract tracing and how to respond to a COVID-19 investigation are just some examples of how job sites need to adapt.
“Our industry’s ability to work together in these unprecedented circumstances is critical to the future of our economy and the health and safety of our workers and the public,” said James Barry, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, IBEW CCO.
“Even during our most trying times through this pandemic, we found a way to make our industry better by improving the safety of construction sites. James and I both understand that the way through this is how we, as an industry, collaborate,” said Graeme Aitken, Executive Director of the Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario (ECAO).
Both Aitken and Barry have been named to a provincial advisory panel. The panel, which includes members from various sectors within the construction industry, was created prior to the pandemic by Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.
“The long history of the ECAO and IBEW partnership has taught me that to succeed you have to work together and that’s why we have such highly trained electricians, a great safety record and the highest completion rates for apprentices,” said Barry.
As formidable negotiators who may be on opposite sides of the bargaining table, Aitken and Barry are used to getting surprised looks when they meet with government as a team.
“Even before the pandemic, Graeme and I understood that when it comes to issues impacting our trade, we needed to work together,” said Barry.
They also knew that building consensus within the entire industry was the best way to achieve results when it comes to dealing with government. Last year, the IBEW and ECAO worked with other union and non-union organizations to develop several consultation papers to assist the province with its response to regulations and oversight for the electrical trade.
“We wanted to provide government with fact-based, data-driven information from industry experts to help them understand the complexity and risks within the trade, ” said Aitken.
Both Barry and Aitken believe their experience and ability to find workable solutions in challenging circumstances will be an asset to the government as the construction industry works to help build back Ontario’s economy.
“When you work in the electrical trade, you can’t make mistakes. Today, the stakes have never been higher for everyone and we all have to do our part to get this right,” said Aitken.
The IBEW CCO represents 18,000 men and women working in the electrical sector. The ECAO represents more than 550 electrical contractors in Ontario.
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The above was provided to QP Briefing as sponsored content.