The Ontario Construction Secretariat hosted its 2023 Annual General Meeting & Conference on October 4-5, in Muskoka at the JW Marriott Rosseau. This year marked the OCS’ 30th anniversary since its creation in 1993.
Opening the conference was keynote speaker Bill Carr. Bill is an actor, writer, and humourist with a strong understanding of the human mind and the ways in which we communicate with each other. He shared personal stories and insights on how to be a better communicator. The key takeaway being, to truly listen to what people are saying and actively see the wisdom in what differing perspectives offer.
Bill set the stage and warmed up the room for the next agenda item, a panel discussion on Building a Vibrant Unionized Construction Industry, with industry leaders, Graeme Aitken (Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario), Kevin Bryenton (Ironworkers International), Paul Daly (Carpenters Regional Council), and Margaret Taylor (Demolition Contractors Association of Ontario). The panel focused on the future of the industry and discussed where the industry is headed and what challenges it will face in the coming years. They touched on issues ranging from skilled labour supply challenges, to re-inventing bargaining, to enhancing labour-management relationships. It was a great start to a big topic that the OCS will continue to explore.
The following morning, after an evening dinner and fun at the OCS Bargaining Chips Casino, those in attendance were provided with industry updates. Hearing from George Gritziotis about the Demand Supply Forecasting Program that he is developing in partnership with the Provincial Building & Construction Trades Council of Ontario, the Construction Employers Council of Ontario, and the Electrical Power Systems Construction Association. Scott Ravary and Melissa Young then spoke about the Level-Up Program that the Ontario Government and Skilled Trades Ontario are running to attract more students into the trades. The program consists of a series of career fairs that promote the skilled trades.
The OCS Annual General Meeting was the final order of business. We heard from OCS President, Jodi Travers, who spoke to the mission of the OCS as an organization and the challenges that the industry will face in the coming years. Finally, CEO, Robert Bronk provided an update on OCS activities and set out a broad overview of projects and events for 2024.
It was wonderful to see such a large grouping of our labour-management stakeholders enjoying the beautiful weather, scenery, and camaraderie throughout our time in Muskoka. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year. Stay tuned to hear what we are planning for 2024!