Tag Archives: Residential Construction Council of Ontario (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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THE COUNCIL: Keesmaat’s 100,000 housing plan doomed to fail

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THE COUNCIL: Keesmaat’s 100,000 housing plan doomed to fail

By Richard Lyall

Toronto mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat’s goal to build 100,000 affordable homes over the next 10 years is bold but simply unrealistic.

Firstly, there wouldn’t be a shovel hitting the ground for those units for at least five years assuming blazing rollout speed.

Secondly, let’s say Keesmaat’s affordable homes are built after that five-year waiting period. By 2030, all new buildings will have to operate at net zero carbon, as per the C40 Cities agreement that Toronto signed onto last month in London, with another 18 global cities (including Montreal, Vancouver, New York, Paris and Tokyo).

Net zero is sexy but it would put taxpayers on the hook for homes that RESCON estimates would see construction costs rise by at least 15 per cent. This gold plating beyond the building code would be far too costly relative to its benefits. More unnecessary costs and fewer units available would relegate those knocked out of the market to sub-standard housing.

We must focus first on helping a greater number of people, including millennials – a generation we are failing – who struggle to get on the housing ladder.

The region is suffering from a dwindling housing supply chain. The only way you can solve supply issues is by adding to the supply and freeing up developments stuck in approvals purgatory. That’s why our latest report on streamlining the development approval process was released in July. (Go to http://rescon.com/reports/ for more.)

Government has proven incapable of fixing the housing crisis on its own, attempting to temper only demand – the industry stands ready to assist at any time.

One bit of advice I’m happy to provide to anyone: Toronto (representing Canada) can’t stay at 54th in the world for construction permitting, according to the World Bank, when Canada is a vibrant G7 nation.

Ontario has an evolving building code. Let’s stick to it so we can continue to build housing for more people, not create more barriers to housing production.

Richard Lyall is president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). http://rescon.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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A View From Inside – New Home Construction A Work In Progress

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A View From Inside – New Home Construction A Work In Progress

By Louie Morizio, Geranium

Industry still catching up after last year’s trades strike.

Last May, four unionized trades in Ontario went on strike: framing, trim, drywall and tile. On June 6, lowrise electricians joined them. Many workers were out for 46 days, essentially bringing the residential construction industry to a halt. It was the worst strike in the GTA and surroundings in 18 years, and caused unprecedented, unexpected delays.

Although the strike ended in mid- June, its effects were far reaching across the lowrise residential sector. Now, 10 months later, homebuilders are still trying to get caught up on the backlog and, unfortunately, homebuyers are the ones most impacted.

We spoke with Andrew Pariser, vice president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON), who has been involved in the dialogue between representatives of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA), the Tarion Warranty Corporation and RESCON to explore the issues and work on a communication program that will help set expectations for everyone affected.

At the end of the strike, RESCON recommended to Tarion that, under these unusual circumstances, builders should be able to extend possession dates from 12 to 24 weeks. Based on these guidelines and using best estimates from industry experience, builders gave their buyers new dates.

The industry’s supply chain has become increasingly complicated, and the strike affected it in direct and indirect ways. For example, a major window manufacturer laid off its workforce during the strike. When it was over, the company was inundated with orders but did not have the labour to fulfill them.

Market demand continued to be robust, so builders continued work on homes that were unaffected by striking workers. When the strike ended, there was a glut of homes at the same stage of completion and demand spiked for the pool of workers to finish them. As construction workers are specialized and follow where the work takes them, many had gone on to other things during and after the strike.

Builders have been encouraged to address individual situations with homebuyers to discuss various options and realistic timelines. On one hand, homebuyers want their new residences as quickly as possible; on the other, builders want to avoid jeopardizing quality through rushing.

While workers put in long hours last summer, which helped mitigate the problem, RESCON points out that the return-to-work process was slow – it finally reached 100 per cent by September.

The great news is that Ontario has one of the most efficient building industries in North America, if not the world. To make the best of a difficult situation, our industry is researching and documenting the supply chain, the effects of the strike on buyers and builders, and evaluating communications channels.

We’re also addressing enrolment in the skilled trades and young people’s desire for construction jobs, which have been on the decline for the past decade. Good work is being done by RESCON and other industry associations to attract more young people to what are stable and high-paying careers in the construction industry.

All of these efforts will ensure the industry is better prepared for 2019, or any other future years, when there will be other rounds of bargaining with unionized trades. For now, residential construction is working full force, and today’s homebuyers enjoy the best quality ever in new homes.

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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