Manitoba Heavy Construction Association

Apr 2020

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2 SATURDAY, APRIL 11, 2020 A SUPPLEMENT TO THE WINNIPEG FREE PRESS W e've heard the clichés about the tortured process of budget writing. I think Mayor Brian Bowman, his council colleagues and the administration would have had way more fun stu ng sausage casings this year. City council and administration pulled o a remarkable achievement with the 2020-2023 Operating and Capital Budget, approved March 20. First, revenues are stretched, as with most years. City administration was tasked with capping operating budgets and reducing capital expenditures to balance the budget, as is required by provincial legislation every year. Administration came back with some tough cuts for council. Maybe this happens every year, you say? Yes, but this year, the dra and redra tug-of-war was done in full view of the public. Last year, council adopted a new budget process for greater transparency, exposing these di cult decisions and negotiations to all Winnipeggers. And Winnipeggers engaged in droves as various groups, associations, businesses and individuals turned out to push back or o er advice. Councillors' phones and email boxes were lit up. And further, city council didn't just produce one year's budget – but four, balancing each one of them. at's a rst for Winnipeg's council and neither the provincial nor federal government do anything similar. As a 29-year association president and a former city councillor (9 years), I am impressed. What I saw play out was a rigorous exercise in discipline – tough choices, innovative solutions, an honest engagement with constituents who expressed ardent and competing positions on a wide array of services. e multi-year balanced budget was a feat. It was a painful but productive exercise that fully illustrated the city's challenges, and the need to prioritize investment, not spending, in core services. Not everyone ended in a happy place with the 2020 budget; has that ever been the case? How did street repairs fare? ere will be small cuts in the rst three years and larger ones in the 4th and 5th years. In six years, the total reduction is $30 million. at's hard to take. But, digging into the details shows just how hard the decisions were for council's Budget Working Group. e street repair budget was badly impaired by the provincial government's withdrawal in 2018 from a long-standing roads funding agreement. In response, council last year allotted about $40 million from a one-time federal top up of gas- tax revenues for municipalities. But this year's $20-million tranche became the focus of a pitched battle among councillors as some saw it as a resource to stave o cuts in other programs. Further, last year council decided to use the revenues from the 2% annual tax that was dedicated to street repairs to help fund bridges – a risky precedent. Sure enough, this year some councillors called to open that revenue source more broadly to fund other services. So that's just some idea how hard the ght was for Mayor Brian Bowman and Finance Chair Scott Gillingham, supported by a number of councillors who also recognize reinvestment in local and regional streets as a top priority, re ecting the perennial views of Winnipeggers. In the end, street repair budgets were cut. And the $20 million in gas-tax revenues originally tagged for use in 2020 was re-directed; council back lled the hole by borrowing $20 million, to be repaid by taking $1 million from the local street reserves over 30 years. Hard to swallow, yes. e MHCA ultimately supported the 2020 budget. And we congratulated city council on its accomplishment in producing a tough but reasoned nancial blueprint. e MHCA also told council, however, that we will continue to advocate for restoration of budget levels in the years coming and called on Winnipeg to lead municipalities to advocate for a better deal with the province and federal government for cost-sharing of expensive, core infrastructure. Winnipeg alone faces an infrastructure investment de cit of $6.9 billion, just under half of which is for streets, roads, bridges, and sewer and water. To address the revenue problem, the MHCA made four recommendations to city council: B Y C H R I S L O R E N C TOUGH CITY BUDGET, BUT LET'S APPLAUD, CONTINUE THE WORK A SUPPLEMENT TO THE WINNIPEG FREE PRESS THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2017 13 Celebrating 75 GROUNDBREAKING years in 2018 Manitoba's largest and most dependable Dust Control Provider for 27 Years 938 McPhillips Rd. | St. Andrew, MB 204.785-2180 | We invite applications for a Mechanic Supervisor for our Semi Truck / Trailer repair shop to join our sta COR Certified Gold Seal Employer Specializing in • Asphalt Paving/Concrete Paving • Site Development • Sewer & Water Services • Diamond Grinding 777 Erin St. Winnipeg, MB R3G 2W2 Phone: 204-783-7091 | Fax: 204-786-3106 I f there's a secret to shaping a strong culture of safety, it's this: ere are no secrets. Sharing information is key to success, and the heavy construction industry is unique in that its members are willing to collaborate, says Gord Lee, president of Nelson River Construction. "Whatever you've done really well in your own company, you're happy to share it with your competitor so that they don't nd themselves in a predicament that you could have otherwise helped them with," Lee says. "It's just amazing the cooperation you get on safety from people who could be your most erce competitor. ey're quite open about what they're doing to be safety-minded and you reciprocate." At Nelson River Construction, success rests on promoting a sense of "internal responsibility" as well as maintaining a long history of corporate responsibility. "Internal responsibility means that safety always starts with the individual," Lee says. "Each of us has a responsibility to act safely for our own sake and so we don't bring harm to the person next to you or even outside of your group." Lee says senior management has always provided unequivocal support for safety initiatives. "It's always safety rst, production second. I remember back right from the earliest days, 30 years ago, when I was working part-time here, safety always took precedence at Nelson River Construction." In the early days, only a few in the industry really paid attention to that element of operations, Lee says. "Today everybody thinks about it." e COR™ (Certicate of Recognition) safety program has become an industry standard. Currently, about 75 per cent of Manitoba's heavy construction companies are COR™-certied. Lee would like to see the industry itself move it upwards of 90 per cent. "You act on safety because it's the right thing to do and if you have a strong moral compass, which I believe most of the employers in our industry do. It's good for their people, it's good for their co mpany and it's the responsible thing to do." Inspired by the book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don't, by American business consultant Jim Collins, the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association (MHCA) is looking at ways to apply Collins' analyses to raising the safety bar. at means adhering to core values, maintaining focus and taking action because it's a responsibility, not a job. e rst step is to have the right people in the right place. People like Hugh Munro Construction safety coordinator Brent Good and Accurate HD safety coordinator Marc Rodrigue. e MHCA was among eight organizations that presented awards at the inaugural Safetys, co-hosted by SAFE Work Manitoba in September. Rodrigue received the rst MHCA WORKSAFELY™ safety leader award. Along with providing safety orientation for new workers, WORKSAFELY™ training sessions and "toolbox" talks, Rodrigue conducts inspections to ensure everyone on a job site is in compliance with sa fety protocols — everything from wearing personal protection equipment to conducting hazard assessments rst thing in the morning and reassessing potential hazards throughout the day. "Someone might notice a tree with a big wasp nest later," he says. "In the last year we have had two employees working for us that were highly allergic to bee stings… those things also have to be brought up to the crew." When in doubt, Rodrigue calls upon WORKSAFELY™ sta and other companies for advice, and he's happy to return the favour. Good has been with Hugh Munro Construction for more than 30 years, and since 2010, he has been teaching safety in formal classroom and workshop settings as well as in the eld. "If you're working with a subcontractor who isn't, say, up to par on their safety, we would make sure to help them out, give them some guidance, make them aware of things they should have in their safety program." Hugh Munro general manager Wayne Loo says it benets everyone to help smaller compan ies bridge any safety gaps and increase baseline knowledge throughout the industry. "e best thing we can do as an industry is make sure that everybody working in this industry is getting to the same standards and levels," he says. "Because we all have to work alongside each other and if everybody is held to the same standards that will help take safety from good to great." Earlier this year, Hugh Munro initiated a Behaviour-Based Safety (BBS) program as an incentive to encourage workers to focus on safety behaviours, both good and bad. Workers ll out cards and submit them in a ballot box, with the option to be entered in a draw for small prizes, or remain anonymous. Reported behaviours might be anything from noting that an equipment operator failed to use three-point contact while climbing o a machine, to acknowledging a worker who drove at a safe speed through a job site. e reports are not used for punitive response but rather as valuable feedback. Good has used some issues in his toolbox talks. Loo says the open communication contributes to a culture of safety from the top to bottom. Rather than laying blame, the company uses incidents for learning purposes, and shares that information with others. "Sharing what's been successful and not successful for companies is not going to create any unfair advantage competitive edge to contractors. It's all leading to growth." TAKING SAFETY FROM GOODTO GREAT BUILDING ON INDUSTRY SUCCESS B Y P A T S T . G E R M A I N Accurate HD safety coordinator Marc Rodrigue reviews safety logs. Photo by DARCY FINLEY Chris Lorenc is the president of the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association The multi-year balanced budget was a feat. It was a painful but productive exercise that fully illustrated the city's challenges, and the need to prioritize investment, not spending, in core services. • ask the administration to update the plan to achieve long-term sustainable funding for local and regional streets, and a parallel strategy for the city's bridges. • press Manitoba to renew the fi ve-year roads funding agreement that recognized the need for support and meaningful provincial investment in the city's transportation infrastructure. • rally Winnipeggers to demand of Broadway a review of the roles and a responsible sharing of the funding burden between Manitoba's municipalities and the province, and by extension Ottawa. • press Ottawa to permanently double the gas-tax fund revenues shared with municipalities. It made sense last year; the need is no less today. This is the message we took to City Hall. All Winnipeggers should echo the call, so our city can plan for the infrastructure it needs for a growing population, and to keep Winnipeg competitive and prosperous. The 2020 Winnipeg local street repair budget was helped through borrowing Colin Corneau photo

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