Government officials visit Local 793 head office

Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher welcomed newly elected Oakville MPP Stephen Crawford and Oakville North-Burlington MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos to the union’s head office and training campus in Oakville on Friday, Oct. 26.

The meeting with the Progressive Conservative Party members was an opportunity to raise issues and to establish a relationship with the new government.

Joining Gallagher was Local 793 vice president and government affairs representative Joe Dowdall, Local 793 director of Toronto area Dave Turple and OETIO director of training and apprenticeship Brain Alexander.

Amongst the subjects discussed was safety within the construction industry and the importance of mandatory training and compulsory certification.

Gallagher noted the union fought for mandatory training on the foundation rotary drills since Local 793 apprentice Kyle Knox lost his life when a drill rig collapsed at a subway construction site at York University in Toronto on Oct. 11, 2011. Gallagher said Knox was a young man with a promising career and the accident likely would not have happened if a licensed, qualified operator had been running the rig.

Gallagher gave another example why the province needs compulsory certification and mandatory training. In 2000, a 31-year-old man from Mississauga, Ontario and a 58-year-old man from Winnipeg, Manitoba died in the accident at a waste-water treatment complex in Oakville. North America Construction, the lead contractor, had a non-unionized member operating a crane and were fined $250,000. The operator was fined $25,000.

Gallagher also touched on the recent news about the proposed removal of the Ontario College of Trade (OCoT). Premier Doug Ford announced Tuesday that his government plans to remove the regulatory body that governs skilled trades in Ontario. If passed by Ontario’s Legislature, the province will develop a replacement model for the regulation of skilled trades and apprenticeships with a one-to-one journeyperson-to-apprentice ratio for every trade for which ratios apply.

Energy East, the largest oil pipeline project ever proposed in Canada, was brought to the attention of the MPP’s. Abandoned by TransCanada one year ago and opposed by many Quebec municipalities, the project was an example Gallagher used to stress the need for pipelines. Both Crawford and Triantafilopoulos agreed.

Gallagher also pointed out investments OETIO put into pipeline training in anticipation of projects like Energy East. OETIO had purchased two sidebooms and offered courses at the Morrisburg training facility before termination of the project.

The Renewable Energy Alliance of Ontario (REAO) was also brought to the table. Renewable energy makes sense for Ontario, Gallagher pointed out, saying that it provides reliable and affordable electricity to ratepayers. Combined with technological innovation, renewable energy can affordably address Ontario’s power needs in the coming years. Gallagher suggested that the Progressive Conservative government take another look at renewable energy.

He added that renewables and nuclear power are the safest, most economical, environmentally-friendly and healthiest way to produce electricity and are a vital part of the province’s energy plan.

The Ring of Fire, a large mineral resource-rich area in northern Ontario that contains potentially billions in nickel, copper and chromite was also discussed. As Gallagher pointed out, it has near limitless potential for future work and will make significant contributions to Ontario’s economy.

Following the informal portion of the meeting, Crawford and Triantafilopoulos had an opportunity to tour the world-class educational and training facility of Oakville’s OETIO. They also had a chance to sit in a simulator seat for first-hand experience on the state-of-the-art equipment. Special thanks to crane apprentice Ryan Tracy for chipping in to guide Triantafilopoulos on the rotary drill simulator and apprentice Tyler Thibault for helping Crawford on the conventional crane.

“We had a very productive meeting with Effie and Stephen,” Dowdall said. “It allowed us to promote our trade, establish a rapport with our local MPP’s and move forward with the new provincial government. With both Effie and Stephen in the Oakville and Oakville-North district, it’s important that they understand what we do at Local 793 and OETIO.”

Gallagher reiterated that Local 793 is prepared to work with the Progressive Conservative government and looks forward to future discussions on helping build Ontario. Both Crawford and Triantafilopoulos expressed an interest in scheduling future meetings on training and infrastructure jobs.