While there were many trends and issues that made headlines time and again throughout 2022, breaking news on varied fronts kept our news gatherers hopping all year long. Here we compile the year’s top DCN newsmakers list.
Swing stage inquest takes place, 13 years later
After many years of stops and starts, the Ontario coroner’s jury looking into the deaths of four construction workers in the tragic Christmas Eve 2009 swing stage collapse ruled the deaths were accidental and produced seven recommendations for systemic reforms.
The inquest began Jan. 31 and wrapped up during the first week of February.
Some of the recommendations included pleas to boost training of supervisors of workers working at heights and using a suspended work platform; to use emerging technologies to reduce worksite injuries; to upgrade the tracking of the effectiveness of working at heights training; and to consider accelerating the frequency of refresher courses for using suspended access equipment.
Following the inquest, the Ministry of Labour and industry stakeholders issued statements, with the ministry saying how it supports the “significant” steps already taken to improve working at heights safety in Ontario since 2009.
“My overwhelming issue with the recommendations is that they are coming 13 years after the incident,” said Giovanno Cautillo, president of the Ontario General Contractors Association, at the time. “The industry is not in the same place that it was over a decade ago and some of the recommendations have not only been in existence but accepted industry practice shortly after the incident.”
Fighting the opioid crisis – naloxone kits on sites
According to a study, 2,500 Ontarians died of a drug overdose in 2020 and of those who were employed at the time of their death, 30 per cent were construction workers.
It’s a problem the industry has been trying to tackle for years, but in early spring the Ontario government passed legislation mandating naloxone kits be available in high-risk workplaces such as construction sites.
It was a welcome move to many industry leaders.
Naloxone is a fast-acting drug used to temporarily reverse the effects of opioid overdoses. It can prevent death if administered quickly.
In May, the Hamilton-Halton Construction Association hosted an event with two regional harm-reduction workers called Naloxone and Harm Reduction 101 in order to help those in the industry understand the new policy and the kits themselves.
Unions back PC agenda throughout Ontario election
While the results of Ontario’s June election weren’t shocking with the re-election of Premier Doug Ford, who supported him during the campaign was.
The Tories roared to a second majority June 2 with 83 seats, the New Democrats dropped to 31 seats but again formed the Official Opposition.
During the campaign period, a half-dozen Ontario construction unions endorsed the Progressive Conservative Party for re-election, including two of the largest in the province, LIUNA and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
It was a historic shift from the norm with Labourers’ international vice-president Joseph Mancinelli stating the union threw its support behind Ford because the government had invested heavily in infrastructure projects that he said are “desperately needed in Ontario”; Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton has listened closely to the industry and scrapped the Ontario College of Trades, significantly boosted skills training and funded training centres; and Ford worked to reverse a decision to kill the Hamilton LRT project.
Other unions shared similar views when asked how they intended to work with the Ford government shortly after the election.
Storms wreak havoc on Ontario, Eastern Canada
Several major storms ripped through Ontario and Eastern Canada in 2022, leaving a path of destruction.
In May, 10 people were killed after a powerful storm swept through Ontario and Quebec.
The scale of the destruction prompted Hammond, Ont., along with the town of Uxbridge, Ont., to declare a state of emergency. It was later determined the storm that hit Uxbridge was an EF2 Tornado.
In July, another storm hit towns north of Belleville. It was a mix of severe thunderstorms and another tornado.
But it was Eastern Canada that bore the brunt of Mother Nature after numerous storms culminated with post-tropical storm Fiona in September. The storm was one of the worst in Atlantic Canada’s history.
Rebuilding efforts were quickly hampered with challenges that were present before the trail of destruction occurred: the rising cost of construction material and widespread skilled labour shortages.
Duncan Williams, president of the Construction Association of Nova Scotia, said in October the demand for skilled tradespeople is extremely high. He estimated about 2,000 to 3,000 additional workers were needed for ongoing projects well before the storm hit.
The rebuilding efforts continue today.
Ottawa LRT debacle and the future of P3s
Throughout 2022 a public inquiry was carried out pertaining to Ottawa’s beleaguered phase one LRT project.
While it was no secret the project was riddled with problems from project delays to cost overruns, the actual findings of the inquiry were direct, placing blame squarely on City of Ottawa staff and politicians and on Rideau Transit Group (RTG), the consortium charged with carrying out the design, construction, financing and maintenance for phase one.
The final report, released Nov. 30, said the city and RTG lost sight of the public interest amid political pressure to rush the $2.1-billion project across the finish line.
It also noted two instances that stood out as “egregious violations of the public trust”: the project’s unrealistic deadlines and the fact information about testing was withheld from the public.
“We acknowledge that all parties, including RTG and its subcontractors, have work to do to restore the public’s confidence in the city’s light rail system,” the group, which is comprised of ACS Infrastructure Canada, EllisDon and SNC-Lavalin, said in a statement.
The inquiry has led to some questions about the merit behind the public-private partnership model and how municipalities execute megaprojects. The report recommended the province investigate how to develop the skills and capabilities needed to lead large infrastructure projects at the municipal level.
The Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships emphasized not all P3s should be painted with the same brush.
DCN 95th – All the building news, every building day
On Nov. 8, 2022, the Daily Commercial News (DCN) celebrated its 95th anniversary of providing all the industry news that’s fit to print.
Leading up to the milestone, the DCN team created stories, podcasts and compilation posts to celebrate the publication’s storied past.
A feature page was created in honour of the anniversary.
As we look to 2023, we must pay homage to those who helped shape this industry and those who continue to improve it. From our team to yours, thank you.