The Western Journal 2016 - (Page 15)
Updates from Alberta
hree years ago, MCA Alberta brought
together 10 other associations to form
the Alberta Trade Contractors Coalition
(ATCC). They developed a Memorandum of
Understanding whereby each member contributed dollars to an action fund, to be used toward
addressing issues that negatively impact on all
trade contractors. Of everything on the coalition's agenda, the
primary issue is prompt payment. MCA Alberta Executive
Director Russell Evans reports that his own association is
working to influence its provincial construction association
to address the issue. Meanwhile, he sees progress within
Alberta Infrastructure - Alberta's largest project owner, per
se. Contracts are starting to include the requested provisions
on prompt payment.
"Where the ATCC comes into play with Alberta
Infrastructure and the Alberta Construction Association
saying, 'With so many associations coming together, maybe
we'd better do something,'" Evans says. "If you just have
individuals around the table, you don't necessarily speak
with one voice. As a coalition you do."
The cost of Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) is another concern of the coalition. Under Alberta's current system, if a
worker seeks medical attention for an RSI, the related costs go
directly toward the employer's workers' compensation costs.
"What we're asking," Evans says, "is if that worker might have
only been with the company one year in a 20-year career, why
shouldn't the whole industry pay?" WorkSafe Alberta has
reportedly agreed to a study looking back through several
years of claims, to examine the issue.
The member associations also seek to improve the standards for drawings and specifications. As every mechanical
contractor can surely relate, the better and more complete are
the drawings and specifications, the better one can bid on
that job and estimate costs. Evans is optimistic about gaining
support from the architectural and engineering parts of the
industry. "We're in the early stages of raising awareness,"
he says," and discussion is happening at different levels.
"Of course, we work with MCA Canada and they've been
addressing some of these things on a national scale, which
allows us to piggyback on that."
Finally, an issue on the back burner is the Alberta Builders'
Lien Act, which has not been updated since the 1980s. The
coalition is closely watching what is happening in Ontario:
"They got a prompt payment bill put before the Ontario legislature a few years ago," Evans says. "It made it to second reading, was sent to a committee for study, and they decided to
open up the whole lien legislation for a comprehensive study
that is nearing completion. We're waiting to see the results."
Following last year's provincial conference,
MCA Alberta identified some fairly specific priorities through its strategic plan. A significant
outcome was to change how the association collects its membership dues. "In the past we had
always collected on a per-man-hour basis. We've
switched to a flat rate, depending on the size
of your company. And despite some trepidation about the
change, it was well received," Evans says.
This year's MCA Alberta conference will take place in
Canmore on May 12, 13 and 14. With the delicate state of
Canada's economy on everyone's minds, it will be a chance
to reconnect with peers and regroup.
Evans explains that while in this line of work it is common
to bid against three or four mechanical contractors in your
region, "I'm hearing now that you might be bidding against
seven or eight." It seems contractors are worried they won't
be busy for some time, so they bid on lots.
He says his members remain reasonably busy, the commercial construction sector being one of a few bright spots.
"But when you see the engineers and architects not working now," he says, "there won't be anything to bid on in six
months; and if you see them laid off, there's going to be
trouble down the road."
Granted, there have been many large projects of late.
These include the International Airport Expansion project
in Calgary; Rogers Place, Edmonton's new downtown arena,
on target to open in early September; Calgary's new National
Music Centre, opening in 2017; and high-rise office towers
such as Brookfield Place East, due for completion next year.
"Also, the government has invested in a lot of new infrastructure, such as schools and hospitals," Evans says. "We hope
those will tide us over. But they do need to keep rolling those
out to keep the economy going."
For project owners, the view is brighter. Whereas when the
economy was booming it was difficult to get competitive bids
on a project, today is an opportune time for those projects
to present themselves. "You can get better, competitive bids
and better quality work done today," Evans says, "because
guys are hungry for the work. We do see a lot of holes in the
ground, which is good news. Before, those projects couldn't
find enough manpower. Now they can."
MCA Alberta on the Web
Mechanical Contractors Associations of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan & Manitoba 2016
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Western Journal 2016
Messages: MCA Canada
Messages: British Columbia
Updates: British Columbia
Good Governance Creates Lasting Value
Medical Marijuana Cultivation: The Mechanical Needs
YYC: Growing to Meet Anticipated Demand
New Product Showcase
Index to Advertisers
The Western Journal 2016