Summer 2018 – Article – #OCS25YEARS: A Story of Collaboration


In 1990, NDP Labour Minister Bob McKenzie, appointed then Professor George Adams (former Chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board) to undertake a review of province-wide collective bargaining in the Industrial, Commercial and Institutional sector of Ontario’s construction industry. Following a period of extensive consultation and industry collaboration, Bill 158 presented three amendments to the Labour Relations Act– one of which was the “establishment of a corporation, a tripartite labour-management-government agency, to gather, analyse and distribute data concerning collective bargaining and the economic conditions of the ICI sector in the construction industry”. (Hansard December 4, 1991)

According to Minister McKenzie “these amendments are designed to bring greater stability to Ontario’s construction industry and thereby improve the prospects for greater construction activity.” (Hansard December 4, 1991)

The vision for a collaborative organization in the ICI construction industry was realized in 1993 with the establishment of the Ontario Construction Secretariat. Looking back at that time, Adams recalls working with both labour and management stakeholders and their belief that the industry would benefit from a collaborative institution that would monitor key activity, provide objective and reliable data and be a resource to labour, management and government.

25 years later, the OCS continues to deliver on its mandate and Adams says it’s gratifying to see how successful the OCS has been.

Bill Empey and Bob Collins were engaged by the first Board of Directors to assist in the start-up of the organization. As with any new organization, there were logistical and relationship hurdles to overcome, but ultimately both viewed working with the OCS was a rewarding experience. According to Empey “We had our share of challenges in the early days. However, the unwavering commitment and dedication of the OCS Board of Directors was instrumental as the organization achieved its footing.”

In 1998, the OCS Board hired Scott Macivor as the organization’s first Chief Executive Officer. Macivor’s background in apprenticeship and training led to the introduction of Future Building – a hands-on exhibition aimed at promoting careers in the construction trades. First launched in 2001, Future Building continues to be key deliverable of the OCS. In speaking with the now retired Macivor, he looks back fondly at his time with the OCS. “This was an exciting time at the Secretariat. We were hiring new staff, creating new programs and continuing to build collaborative relationships among our labour-management-government stakeholders.”

Taking over the job of CEO in 2008, Sean Strickland focused on raising the OCS profile with industry stakeholders and branding the unionized construction industry. Initiatives such as the Tripartite brought together labour, contractors and owners to develop best practices and work collaboratively to ensure the delivery of high quality, construction projects, safely, on time and on budget.

Looking back, Strickland says the most apparent change in the OCS from his perspective has been the maturity of the organization.  He says the OCS and its partners have worked hard to further the ICI unionized construction industry, adding it has resulted in “greater trust between the labour/management partners which in turn has allowed them to work closely together to help the OCS be more successful in its mandate.”

As we continue on this journey of collaboration and providing value-added research to our industry stakeholders, the OCS Board of Directors and staff look forward to building on the successes of the past and addressing the important issues of the future. To our stakeholders, thank you all for your commitment to this unique organization. Let’s continue the dialogue and partnership!




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