Tag Archives: Andrew Pariser

THE COUNCIL: Keeping the trades satisfied

Keeping the trades satisfied: Labour crunch leads to survey

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Keeping the trades satisfied: Labour crunch leads to survey

Labour crunch leads to survey to learn how to keep construction workers happy on the job.

Ontario construction is facing a labour crunch in the next 10 years with almost 90,000 trades workers set to retire during that time, according to BuildForce Canada.

Learning about that figure triggered a conversation that led RESCON to join forces with Job Talks, an organization with a strong track record in academia and in construction. Together with the Ontario Residential Council of Construction Associations, they have launched a survey to learn what satisfies trades professionals day-to-day as they build Ontario.

“We’re thinking about the future,” said Andrew Pariser, vice president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). “We’ve seen labour shortages on and off in different trades for more than a decade. We must prepare for how this will affect all construction sectors including residential and infrastructure and how it will impact our ability to build in the future.

“Our goal is to better understand how we can retain current workers, recruit new workers, and build a labour force to match tomorrow’s needs. If we recruit the right people and provide them with the right opportunities, we can greatly improve all training and apprenticeship initiatives.”

The academically-based survey analysis will be carried out by Job Talks. Recent Job Talks projects include a national survey of workers in Red Seal trades and a complementary interview series on YouTube, as well as a national study that reveals new distinct segments of Canada’s working population.

“It takes at least 20 minutes and is open to any person who works on tools or owns a pair of safety boots in infrastructure and residential trades in Ontario,” said Jon Callegher of Job Talks. It has multiple choice and open-ended questions that “help us understand how construction workers really feel about their jobs and to gauge their happiness on the job.”

The results of the survey will inform a report on retention and job satisfaction of trades workers in construction. It is available here.

For more information, email dibe@rescon.com.

Richard Lyall is the president of RESCON.


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THE SAFETY PROS : Will legal cannabis threaten workplace safety?

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THE SAFETY PROS : Will legal cannabis threaten workplace safety?

By Amina Dibe and Andrew Pariser

With 1.4 million people in Canada working in construction, we would be naïve if we thought the use of recreational cannabis was a new issue for the industry. It isn’t. Among health and safety professionals, impairment always has been the top concern for construction sites across Canada, and that has come into sharp focus with the legalization of recreational cannabis.

As outlined by the Senate review, Canada is now the only country in the G7 to legalize recreational use of cannabis. That means it will have to take a unique approach to regulation and enforcement at the federal, provincial and municipal levels.

Legislative Overview
So, how did we get to this point?

Bill Bogart, a law professor with the University of Windsor and author of the 2016 book, Off The Street: Legalizing Drugs, says that the move to legalization stems from the general disillusionment with North America’s war on drugs, more acceptance over the right to accessing cannabis for medical purposes and evolving public opinion.

The real turning point was the election of the federal Liberal government in 2015, which ran on a platform that included the legalization of recreational cannabis. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau assigned the leadership of a task force, headed by former Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan, to develop a framework. The federal government introduced legislation largely based on the task force’s 80 recommendations in April 2017, and it was eventually passed by the House of Commons the following November. The Senate passed Bill C-45 in June, making Canada the first G7 country to legalize cannabis (although nine states, including California, Massachusetts, Washington and Colorado have legalized it), and the launch date was set for October 17.

While the federal government will oversee production, quality assurance and some enforcement issues through the RCMP, the provinces and territories are focused on retail sales, with most aspects of taxation and enforcement of the regulatory scheme by provincial and municipal police.

Cannabis will fit in as one of the legal vices with alcohol, tobacco, junk food and gambling for controlled consumption with the key words being “permit but discourage,” Bogart says. And, like tobacco, there will be restrictions on advertising and promotion of cannabis and related merchandise.

Campaigns have already begun to discourage driving impaired from cannabis use. With Canada having the highest rates of deaths attributable to impaired driving among wealthy countries, driving a vehicle — or operating heavy equipment — will be a huge concern for construction sites across the country. A recent Health Canada poll proclaimed 50 per cent of those who use cannabis think cannabis use does not impair driving. This is worrying and underlines the need for a fulsome and robust public education campaign.

There are myths and misconceptions related to the impacts of cannabis and how it will be regulated. All levels of government have a duty to ensure the safety of the public and all employers have a duty to ensure the safety of workers. This means education needs to be everyone’s priority and a first step should be the adoption of best practices from leading jurisdictions, including Washington and Colorado.

Impacts on Construction Sites
In construction, safety is everyone’s number one concern. Safe workers are happier, healthier, more productive and provide a higher quality of work. Impaired workers, regardless of the cause, are a hazard to themselves, other workers and the public. Not surprisingly, they are also more likely to be involved in an accident. Now that recreational cannabis has become legal, the obligations placed on employers seem endless. A survey by the Human Resource Professionals Association found that 71 per cent of employers were not prepared for the legalization of cannabis. A difficult balance must be struck between respecting an individual’s human rights and enforcing onsite mechanisms to ensure workers go home safely every night.

A major theme that has emerged is uncertainty. Uncertainty from the public as to what the rules and regulations will be, uncertainty for safety professionals as we continue to wait for final legislative and regulatory details, and uncertainty on how it could impair workers.

Specifically, impairment is impacted by an almost endless list of factors including potency (amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC), quantity and method of consumption (inhalation vs. edibles).

Cannabis already is being used by some people for medicinal purposes. However, these numbers will be dwarfed by recreational users, who will consume in an environment with less regulation and certainty.

Legalized cannabis use is simply the tip of the iceberg. To understand the future, we need to look at other jurisdictions where it has been legalized as well as other goods. We live in a consumer world where customization is the rule not the exception. In cannabis, with more than 100 chemical compounds called cannabinoids, the legalized market will see an innovative product that encourages customization — there is a multitude of strains which can create various levels of potency and impairment and, ultimately, a variety of products.

Employer Policy
In some ways, life will not change for employers after legalization. Employers have always had the duty and responsibility to keep workers safe. However, it does increase the potential for impairment and this means employers need to update their policies, education for employees and stay educated themselves as more information becomes available.

All employers in construction should have policies to guide and inform employees on what is and isn’t acceptable. Employers — if they haven’t already done so — need to update their drug or impairment policy. As outlined previously, impairment is impairment is impairment — the goal of all employers is to ensure workers are free from impairment.

One way to ensure a drug policy reflects this is by focusing on impairment and not specific causes. A broad policy, which encompasses employer-specific factors, is a prudent step forward. Industry, or sector-wide (a.k.a. blanket) policies should be avoided as health and safety obligations are unique for every construction site.

The Future
Despite cannabis’ historic presence in Canada, widely accepted academic studies and scientific information are lacking because cannabis has been an illicit substance. This means a flood of information will come after legalization. Employers and employer associations must stay vigilant and ensure leading studies on impairment, measurements and impacts are quickly put into practice.

While there are concerns — and there inevitably will be bumps along the way — Bogart expects the post-legalization era will be similar for cannabis as it was for gambling in the 1960s. “The path was not easy or straightforward but it was eventually cleared. With patience and lots of debate and discussion, much the same description will come to be applied to the legalization and regulation of cannabis.”

Work safe!

This article was based on the findings and discussions that took place as part of two symposiums on the impending legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada. RESCON joined forces with the Ontario Residential Council of Construction Associations and the Ontario General Contractors Association to put on the symposiums on cannabis in construction for construction leaders in the Greater Toronto Area. The article first appeared in ReNew Canada magazine, September/October 2018, https://www.renewcanada.net/

Amina Dibe
Andrew Pariser

Andrew Pariser is the vice-president of RESCON and chair of the RESCON health and safety committee. Amina Dibe is a programs and policy analyst at RESCON. http://rescon.com/


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Mikey Network one example of how homebuilders give back

Mikey Network one example of how homebuilders give back

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Mikey Network one example of how homebuilders give back

by Andrew Pariser

Every February is heart month and with it comes the annual heart health campaigns from various groups, including the Mikey Network. While their slogan is “The Beat Goes On,” their message is of awareness and preparation.

In construction, two important health and safety principles are awareness and prevention.

By studying near misses we can gain valuable information, which can be used to prevent future accidents or respond in the most effective way possible when an emergency situation occurs.

That’s why it is important to talk about a program like The Mikey Network, which provides portable defibrillators for all kinds of public spaces, including construction sites. It’s a registered charity that has distributed about 2,200 easy-to-use units across Canada, with 1,600 of those in GTHA schools, hockey rinks, golf courses, apartment buildings and shopping centres. We we even have one at RESCON headquarters.

Many in our industry have heard of Mikey and how it began after beloved Heathwood Homes marketing VP Mike Salem, 56, died in 2002 at the Bigwin Island golf course on Lake of Bays after suffering a cardiac arrest. That led Heathwood Homes’ founder Hugh Heron to spring into action.

However, few realize that 35 lives have been saved by Mikeys, including Archer Hackett of Renfrew, Ont.

In January 2015, Archer was three months old and suffering from an abnormal heart rhythm. His parents were driving him to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa when they had to pull over on the side of the road after he suffered a cardiac arrest. They put the pads on his tiny chest and re-started his heart.

Morty Henkle of the Mikey Network donates four Mikeys to the Halton Region Police Service.
Morty Henkle of the Mikey Network donates four Mikeys to the Halton Region Police Service.

“That is the youngest person that we have had the good fortune to have saved,” says Morty Henkle, executive director of the Mikey Network.

Archer was one of eight lives saved in 2015, the highest number in one year throughout the 12 years of the program.

Reading a letter from Archer’s parents, Henkle said the couple “cannot express how grateful we are. Archer wouldn’t have survived without your help. We’re so thankful to have him home.”

Henkle says saving Archer’s life was a big moment for the Mikey Network.

“I was truly amazed that we were so lucky to have placed a Mikey with a family that was able to save this child’s life,” Henkle says. “Every save is a big save. We’ve had teenagers, we’ve had young children, a person in their 70s, but when you can actually save a child that’s just coming into the world, it’s a pretty awesome feeling.”

Heathwood Homes president Hugh Heron admitted he got emotional when he heard Archer’s story.

“A three-month-old baby. Just imagine. There were tears in my eyes – just for a child to be given a second chance, it’s fantastic,” he said.

About 230 children in Ontario carry a Mikey – donated to families by the Network –Heron said. The Mikey Network also has a close relationship with both the Peel District School Board and the Toronto District School Board.

Heron said the Network is trying to put Mikeys in as many public spaces as possible, and he believes defibrillators should be on every residential construction site in the GTHA. “Builders owe it to their staff to have defibrillators. Everywhere there is fire extinguisher there should be a defibrillator. We want to make this a cardiac-safe city.”

Heathwood’s Bob Finnigan – president of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – agrees.

“When you’ve got a site with 100-plus people and it’s hot and they’re working hard, it’s important to keep them safe. Highrise builders should look at having those kinds of stations on every second or third floor.

“You look at those 35 direct saves, and who knows how many of those people would have had direct access to a defibrillator.

“It’s a tangible asset that gives you a chance to survive if you’re in cardiac arrest. There’s 2,200 places in Canada that are a whole lot safer than they would be without one.”

We are proud to say our office is one of them, and that the builder making the GTHA a safer region is a member of RESCON.


  • Cardiac arrest has no respect for age – whether someone is three months old or 80, anyone can suffer one.
  • If someone suffers a cardiac arrest, they will be unconscious. Here’s what to do: Call 911, then open the defibrillator unit. The machine gives simple, verbal instructions, monitors the person’s heart and assesses whether to shock it.
  • The Mikey portable defibrillator can jolt the heart back into a rhythm with up to 360 joules.
  • The unit can be used two to three times, but the battery and pads must be replaced after each use.
  • If the Mikey sits unused, the pads must be replaced every two years, and the battery must be replaced every five. The unit will last 10.

Learn more about this terrific program at mikeynetwork.com.

Andrew Pariser Andrew Pariser is the vice-president of RESCON and chair of the RESCON health and safety committee.

Reach him at pariser@rescon.com.


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