July 2017 – Article – Eyes on OCS at Halifax Construction Conference


An idea for the past 10 years, a day-long meeting of Provincial Sector Council and Secretariat representatives finally took place last month in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Among those in attendance was OCS Executive Board member Wayne Peterson, who was pleased to attend and called it a “great first conference”.

Hosted by the Nova Scotia Construction Sector Council (CSC), the conference was organized for labour (building trades unions) and management (CLRA’s) from across the country to discuss the various provincial priorities and strategies, current projects and share best practices.

Peterson says a lot of interest was shown in research the OCS has undertaken the past few years, specifically the underground economy and the safety effect.

“All of the provinces agreed the research was important and useful and spoke about how they would like to duplicate the work in their respective jurisdictions.  However, they had concerns about the level of cooperation they might receive from their health and safety associations as well as the costs of conducting such research.”

Other topics of discussion ranged from labour supply and worker mobility to group procurement and branding.  In his presentation, Peterson touched on Unionized Construction Works (UCW) – the OCS-developed brand for the unionized industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) construction sector in Ontario and several of OCS’s research initiatives.

Representatives from Saskatchewan suggested the provinces should collaborate to brand the unionized construction industry on a national level.  The Nova Scotia CSC has registered the name of their “Built Right” program in every province except Ontario as the Ontario Government has already registered this brand.  However, the Nova Scotia CSC is prepared to sign over the registration for any of the other provinces interested in using the name.

The OCS’s annual Future Building exposition also generated plenty of interest from the attendees.  In fact, the Nova Scotia CSC has its own version – a half-day affair which draws about 40 students per day, features approximately 15 trades in booths that are staffed by retired trade workers.

As much as the OCS received a lot of attention for its research, branding and events, Peterson says there was also an opportunity for the Secretariat to learn from others.

Since 2006, the Nova Scotia CSC has been studying the impact of technology on the construction industry.

Trent Soholt, the Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Construction Sector Council, says initially the focus was on where opportunities existed with a focus on foremen and supervisory workers.  In 2011, the Council began Phase 2 of the Function Information Technology (FIT) Program.  Soholt says it was all about acquisition and deployment of the technology and monitoring its impact on the job.

“Interestingly, it was the older workers who seemed to embrace the new technology the quickest.  It was because they already knew their trades and recognized that new technology provides an opportunity to do their job better and faster”.

Phases 3 and 4 followed in which training was developed for mobile technology and laptops and computers.  Peterson says it’s a topic the OCS may want to explore further.

All in all, Soholt was extremely pleased with the participation and discussion, and going forward, he says there is a “real appetite” to meet again.

“Winnipeg has already offered to host the conference next year.  There certainly is no shortage of issues to discuss.  But if this is to become an annual meeting, we will have to decide what our objective and plan is going forward.”





Fred Lehmann
Communications Coordinator,

Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS)
180 Attwell Drive, Suite 360, Toronto, ON M9W 6A9
P 416.620.5210 ext. 222
F 416.620.5310