Tag Archives: RESCON

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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Women In Skilled Trades (WIST)

Women are breaking barriers

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Women are breaking barriers

Tiffany Morin loves to solve puzzles. In fact, the new graduate from the Women In Skilled Trades (WIST) program says she considers every house she works on to be a puzzle.

“If that door isn’t closing right, you have to fix the puzzle – you have to find the missing piece,” said the 21-year-old from Baden (near Kitchener). “You see something that’s not working, you re-evaluate what’s wrong and try the first solution, then the next solution.”

Morin recently graduated from the program at the Centre for Skills Development in Burlington. It is an important cog to train and educate women to join the male-dominated construction trades.

“We’re chipping away every year to change the gender makeup of the trades,” says instructor Lawrence Farrell.

Among 19 women in the 22-week program, Morin was considered one of her class’s top problem-solvers. She has taken those skills and her new education with her to a job in Kitchener with Timeline Journey Renovations.

“It’s going really great. So far, we’ve put in a few doors, bathroom vents and a fence job where we replaced all of the old posts with new ones. Every day, I learn something new,” Morin says.

Farrell was not surprised to learn Morin was hired the Monday following her graduation in September.

“Tiffany is a very capable worker, and is an excellent problem solver with an eye for detail,” Farrell says. “She excelled in theory and was admired for her ability to grasp concepts quickly and apply what she learned for hands-on use. She is a leader, and that will shine through as she develops in her career in the trades.”

Because she excelled in leadership skills, academics and technical ability, Morin joined classmate Nico Varkevisser of Hamilton in being awarded with a $500 bursary from the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON).

Morin describes Varkevisser, a former daycare worker, as a quiet leader. “She was always so patient. All of the students got frustrated at different points but we all understood where people needed to take a second to catch their breath; no one was good at everything,” Morin says.

“Nico was definitely the most patient and understanding of all of us. She was always level-headed and if she ever got frustrated, it didn’t show.”

While she has plenty of patience, Varkevisser says she’s focused on improving her professional qualities. “I have a whole skill set that I didn’t have six months earlier, and I have the confidence that I can learn different skills if I didn’t learn them before.”

Varkevisser, 25, says that while it’s intimidating to be a woman stepping into construction, it shouldn’t be. “I think it needs to be more normalized so that women can be seen as being just as efficient as men in the construction world.” Couldn’t agree more.

Richard Lyall is president of RESCON.


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Builders constantly improve energy efficiency of new homes

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Builders constantly improve energy efficiency of new homes

Energy efficiency is a concern for homeowners, for the obvious reason of saving money on utility bills, but also the impact on the environment. In the home building industry, the Ontario Building Code (OBC) is updated every few years, often resulting in increasing energy efficiency standards in new homes.

It is important, as an industry, to achieve and exceed OBC requirements to create homes with increased sustainability. Participating in voluntary third-party rating systems, such as Energy Star and LEED, is one way builders improve energy efficiency. In addition, numerous builders create their own specific programs to ensure their homes are better built than the OBC.

Undertaking their own research and reviewing new technologies and materials that are cost and time saving, as well as reducing environmental impact, is an ongoing process for residential builders. It is important to keep an open mind when presented with new products while ensuring they are effective. This often requires extensive testing.

For example, Geranium is testing a new liquid tar material to seal flat roofs. The substance is poured into place becoming a puncture-resistant rubber membrane that seals roof edges and penetrations on the exterior more effectively against inclement weather. It is a durable product, requiring less maintenance and repair and decreases drafts, thereby contributing to overall energy saving.

HOME ENERGY RATING

Many builders devote time and energy to enhance their construction techniques to make sure homes are well sealed, incorporate good air flow and have minimal air leakage. These efforts are being acknowledged through industry recognition. The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), for example, includes a Green Home Builder of the Year category in its annual awards. The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) holds a Cross Border Builder Challenge and gives awards for the lowest Home Energy Rating System (HERS) score. The lower the score, the better it is for the environment. Recently, Geranium proudly received the award for the lowest score (HERS 42) in the Canadian midproduction category for a home in our Whitchurch-Stouffville Bloomington Woods community.

There are different ways builders may address energy efficiency. Other examples include using raised heel trusses providing consistent thickness and more space for attic insulation, Tyvek Air Barrier (a home wrap that performs as a superior air barrier), sprayed-in-place expandable foam insulation and Energy Star qualified windows, all of which Geranium uses. To inform people of the benefits of how we build and the process behind it, we’ve created an online video and hold events such as Hard Hat Tours led by the construction team in a home being built prior to drywall installation to help educate our homeowners on the building process.

In the GTA, the push to design more functional smaller spaces is encouraging lowrise builders to create higher density housing forms, and as a result, seek out innovative products. For example, installing a tankless water heater in combination with an air handler for space heating means the equipment takes up less valuable space while improving energy efficiency; a benefit to the homeowner.

Ontario’s builders are focused on offering top-quality energy-efficient homes that will take owners into the future in comfort and with confidence.

Louie Morizio is senior vice-president, construction, housing division for Geranium and a director of RESCON. Since 1977, Geranium has built more than 8,000 homes in fine neighbourhoods and communities throughout Ontario. Geranium.com

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THE COUNCIL: Bill 148 and new homebuyers

THE COUNCIL: Bill 148 and new homebuyers

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THE COUNCIL: Bill 148 and new homebuyers

For hard-working people who have scraped together a downpayment for a new home over the course of many years, Bill 148 is a tough pill to swallow.

by Richard Lyall
RESCON

For hard-working people, including millennials, who have scraped together a downpayment over the course of many years – extending their planned purchasing date by years – Bill 148 is a tough pill to swallow.

Also known as The Fair Workplaces, Better Job Act, 2017, Bill 148 was an omnibus labour bill introduced and passed by the provincial Liberal government. It was proposed to solve labour market issues outlined by the changing workplace review in Ontario’s service and retail sectors and assist vulnerable workers in the province’s emerging “part-time gig economy.”

Despite indicating that construction would be excluded, there was a decision by the Liberals to include all sectors of the economy – including construction – into the bill.

Numerous associations wrote to the previous government and outlined obvious concerns, including introducing sick days and scheduling requirements. To be direct, the construction industry pays relatively higher wages than virtually all sectors, including manufacturing, with the understanding that outside of vacation pay, workers are paid when they work and not paid when they don’t.

This longstanding agreement – which is reflected in virtually all industry collective agreements and with non-union constructors – has been turned on its head and continues to destabilize the entire industry. Meanwhile, the 2019 round of bargaining is coming up fast: both sides of the table are preparing for another long round of bargaining in the spring when most construction collective agreements will expire.

However, Doug Ford’s newly elected government still has a chance to exclude the construction sector, restore the industry to pre-Bill 148 legislation and begin unwinding the uncertainty it has caused.

Now is the time to act. Let Ford know you want to undo the problems Bill 148 is causing, which will give new homebuyers confidence as they step onto the housing ladder next year. There is simply too much on the line for the GTA’s new housing sector and the Ontario economy it drives.

Richard Lyall is the president of RESCON.

media@rescon.com


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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
RESCON

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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THE COUNCIL : U.S. tariffs on steel will hurt Canadian real estate

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THE COUNCIL : U.S. tariffs on steel will hurt Canadian real estate

By Richard Lyall
RESCON

The news of the U.S. government tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Canada is a serious matter for the construction industry and highrise building in Toronto and Vancouver, which uses enormous quantities of reinforcing steel. The tariffs amount to 25 per cent on imported steel, including rebar and construction steel. Trump had announced the tariffs in March (recently citing national security reasons, which as their closest ally, I don’t understand) but gave exemptions to Canada, Mexico and the European Union up to June 1. Other countries – including Argentina, South Korea, Australia and Brazil – are facing quotas or volume limits. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said the exemptions for Canada were tied to ongoing NAFTA negotiations, which have taken “longer than we had hoped.” Oddly, he also indicated that there was some potential flexibility on the tariffs. Perhaps the U.S. didn’t buy into Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s recent claims that Canada would make greater efforts to prevent foreign steel from being dumped into the North American market. Not really a big surprise there.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reached out to the provinces that will be hit hardest by these tariffs – including Ontario, Canada’s steel manufacturing heartland – before announcing upcoming tariffs on U.S. imports, including beer kegs, whiskey and toilet paper.

RESCON believes that Canada should have tread lightly and left construction rebar out of any responses that could hurt the Canadian economy. This didn’t happen.

A dramatic, and possibly continued hike in rebar and construction steel costs could have a serious impact on the highrise construction sector, condo projects and housing costs. We’ll have to live with the unintended consequences in highrise construction, whether that’s residential or ICI. And so will our economy, which is driven by construction.

The Canadian government recently provided relief to the drywall industry tariffs to offset injury to homebuyers and construction workers. The same consideration for the same reasons should be given here. We have to put the economy first.

Richard Lyall is president of RESCON. @RESCONprez, http://rescon.com/

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The View From Inside: Building A Rewarding Career

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The View From Inside: Building A Rewarding Career

Many builders are running programs to promote work in the trades

Prices of new homes today are affected by numerous factors, including the availability of skilled construction tradespeople. When there are fewer crews available to work on job sites, the total time required to complete the new homes may be extended.

In the GTA, we are experiencing a shortage of skilled workers – bricklayers and framers, to name just two. The good news is that the construction industry is working with unions and colleges through associations and affiliations to remedy the situation. Topping the list are efforts to educate and interest high school students, and to attract women, Indigenous peoples and new Canadians through specific initiatives.

“We are just starting a one-year labour market information study and video series that will promote trades, determine recruitment and retention best practices, as well as highlight the high job satisfaction of many tradespeople in the residential sector,” says Andrew Pariser, vice president of RESCON (Residential Construction Council of Ontario). “We will profile 25 different trades through the eyes of one man and one woman in each. The videos will help the viewer understand the components of each trade and demonstrate the tremendous opportunities available.”

Amina Dibe, project and policy analyst at RESCON, is implementing projects that promote recruitment and retention in the residential construction industry.

“By providing resources for school boards outlining what a job in construction entails and showing examples, we create broader awareness,” she says. “Most people have never heard of jobs such as a concrete finisher and drain-layout specialist.”

Another RESCON project includes a partnership with the construction management program at George Brown College. “Each year, we enroll 12 to 15 graduates for two semesters — one in the classroom and one placement in the field,” Dibe says. “On completion, the students are hired into positions such as junior project manager, junior estimator or site clerk.”

In addition, through Humber College’s Carpentry and Renovations Technician program, RESCON is implementing a pilot that will place 15 graduates into jobs in one of six residential trades including highrise and lowrise forming, concrete and drain, and tile. Starting in September, the students will have fourmonth contracts, with the hope that they will be kept on full time.

“We’d like to expand the program to other colleges and engage a higher number of graduates not traditionally seen in the construction trades,” Dibe notes.

By virtue of her own career, Dibe is an inspiration. Her presentations during the George Brown program have resulted in a spike in female participants. “Women are often detail oriented with exceptional fine motor skills,” Pariser adds. “They often outperform men in the finishing trades.”

Many builders are pitching in by running programs to promote work in the trades as well. In addition, the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) enables high school students to earn cooperative education credits through work placement in apprenticeable trades. Following graduation, they can become registered apprentices.

At Geranium, we are proud to be part of the construction industry, which is a major economic driver in Ontario. We support the efforts among government and the private sector to encourage more people of all ages and backgrounds to consider the building trades as a rewarding career choice.

Louie Morizio is vice president, housing for Geranium and a director of RESCON. Since 1977, Geranium has built more than 8,000 homes in fine neighbourhoods and communities throughout Ontario.

Geranium.com

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THE COUNCIL: Construction industry targets red tape

THE COUNCIL: Construction industry targets red tape

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THE COUNCIL: Construction industry targets red tape

by Richard Lyall, RESCON

There is no reason why Canada should be ranked 54th out of 190 countries measured by the World Bank for a routine building approval.

The year 2018 will be marked for big steps in cutting red tape and speeding up the development approval process.

Frankly, there’s no excuse that a wealthy country like Canada should be ranked 54th out of 190 countries measured by the World Bank for a routine building approval (construction permitting for a warehouse in Toronto).

I feel that this was an important topic for our debut contribution to the Builder Bites Newsletter as this is an unacceptable statistic for Toronto, Ontario and Canada that you should know about.

That’s why approvals are being targeted by both the builders council that I represent – RESCON (Residential Construction Council of Ontario) – as well as the cross-sectional construction organization that I’m proud to chair this year – CDAO (Construction and Design Alliance of Ontario).

This is a continuation of a lot of good work that RESCON and other CDAO members – including BILD and OHBA – took part in through the provincial Development Roundtable Action Plan. The 14-point plan unveiled last April includes implementing the use of e-permitting as well as streamlining development processes to boost the supply of new housing.

So, what does that mean for a new homebuyer? It’s simple; we’re trying to get more supply on the market to slow down the increasing costs of new housing. Supply inventory in the GTA has dropped to less than half of what it was 10 years ago while more than 100,000 people move into the region every year.

But there is no silver bullet to the GTA’s supply issue. It will take a multi-pronged approach to help free up supply for new homebuyers, including building with innovative new practices (including tall wood), off-site construction and panelization.

All three building practices will continue to grow in 2018 as pieces of panelized homes are constructed in a factory then shipped to sites around the GTA like massive bits of Lego. The actual on-site assembly time is reduced by months and this can save new homebuyers a lot of time.

Back to development approvals: read this space this spring when RESCON will write more about its latest published report on best practices to streamline and improve Ontario’s development and approvals process. The report will have three themes: streamlining routine planning and applicable law approvals; expanding e-permitting in Ontario; and enhancing the role of professionals in regulatory compliance.

The red tape problems we are looking for include those related to excessive delays; excessive costs; problems with accountability and corporate culture within regulatory agencies; unnecessary or unclear procedures, processes and requirements; as well as last-minute/surprise requirements.

Richard Lyall is the president of RESCON and has represented the building industry in Ontario since 1991.

Reach him at media@rescon.com or @RESCONprez.

Thanks for reading yet another great product by HOMES Publishing Group.


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25 Leonard Avenue

25 Leonard Avenue

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25 Leonard Avenue

Condo and homebuilders join forces to help house the homeless

(CNW) — As the weather turns cold for Toronto’s homeless population, the city’s Kensington Market neighbourhood is seeing construction begin on Toronto’s first purpose-built homes for homeless people in more than 10 years.

An excavator broke ground earlier this week in preparation for spring construction on the small strip of land beside St. Clare’s Multifaith Housing Society’s existing building at 25 Leonard Avenue, just east of Bathurst Street. This unique three-storey, 22-unit project was backed by neighbours and made possible with government and private sector support.

St. Clare’s construction partners — including home and condo builders, unions and construction associations — are stepping up to the plate in a $1 million fundraising effort.

The corporate donors are Aspen Ridge, Brown Group, Great Gulf, Greenpark, Heavy Construction Association of Toronto, Laurier Homes, Liberty Development, Lindvest, LiUNA Local 183, LiUNA Ontario Provincial District Council, Mattamy Homes, Menkes, Ontario Formwork Association, Silvercore, Tridel and Yorkwood.

Through its Open Door Program, Toronto is assisting the project with a $500,000 capital grant and waiving municipal fees and development charges.

“This was a must-do project for St. Clare’s. We are relieved to finally be through a two-year planning process and are grateful for the support of RESCON, Toronto Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão, Councillor Joe Cressy and our very supportive neighbours, said Andrea Adam, St. Clare’s operations manager.

“I applaud the hard work and vision of St. Clare’s to make this innovative project a reality,” said Bailão, chairwoman of Toronto’s affordable housing committee. “St. Clare’s is a model that works. Their partnership-based approach has created new opportunities for those seeking a safe, clean, affordable place to call home.”

“Ensuring access to safe and affordable housing for all our friends and neighbours is critical,” Cressy added. “We have a housing crisis in our city, and the new affordable homes at 25 Leonard Avenue are a crucial and welcome addition to our community.”

According to Michele McMaster, affordable housing consultant of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, “CMHC has investigated St. Clare’s operating model and found it to be replicable and scalable. We are delighted that St. Clare’s is inspiring private developers, and we hope to encourage more in the future.”

“We chose to support this project because we believe the construction industry should give back. St. Clare,s is a caring and effective organization that we respect, and we know that they have the right leadership to steer this project to success, said RESCON chairman emeritus Phil Rubinoff.

This latest intensification of the site follows the award-winning 2006 addition of 26 apartments to the roof of the building at 25 Leonard.

St. Claire’s is a charitable foundation and landlord responsible for 413 rental units in five buildings across Toronto to help get the homeless and hard-to-house into their own home to give them privacy and dignity.

RESCON is the non-profit association that represents more than 200 of Ontario’s residential builders. Its members build highrise, midrise and lowrise homes, including rental apartments and social housing.

stclares.ca



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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
RESCON

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.

 FIVE IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT MIKEY

  • 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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