Eastern Ontario cheese factory to be rebuilt by local contractors

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Ottawa Construction News staff writer

The eastern Ontario cheese factory destroyed by fire earlier this year hopes to break ground on rebuilding a new, larger operation next month to help the small town that relies on its business CBC has reported.

The St. Albert, Ont. co-op lost almost everything to a massive fire on Jan. 3.

The new structure will be larger and cost about $25 million to build, Réjean Ouimet, the cheese factory’s former general manager, told the CBC. The new plan has had input from many different people, which has made the process a little more difficult, he added. The co-op also has required help from many different businesses.

The co-op hopes to begin digging and building the new foundation after Canada Day and plans to finish the structure by October. It then hopes to have the factory up and running in time for the one-year anniversary of the devastating fire.

The co-op wants to hire numerous local contractors, Ouimet said.

“We want people from this area,” said Ouimet. “If you hire one contractor, if he’s far from this area, he don’t know all our people … we want to give jobs to our people.”

IBEW Local 586 business agent speaks up about Ontario College of Trades (OCOT)

James Barry, business agent for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) local 586 says in a note to his members that he has “received a number of calls” from members about the OCOT, indicating that some are concerned about the organization’s higher registration fees.

“For this reason, I felt it was important to communicate with you why the IBEW across the Province of Ontario has supported in principle the concept of OCOT,” Barry wrote. “Outside of eastern Ontario, very little was done to catch people doing electrical work without the proper certification.  Even with the excellent work being done the Jobs Protection Office (JPO), we still found almost one contractor in every four cheating on their ratios or using unlicensed workers to do electrical work.  This is terrible for the consumers as they are subject to poor workmanship that could lead to electrical and safety problems, it is bad for workers because they risk electrical injuries and it is worse for the economy because many of these people work in the underground economy.  You should also be aware that because of the government’s fiscal pressures, there was a very strong likelihood that the Jobs Protection Office would close as a government cost saving measure.”

“One of the most important things we possess as an electrician is the license in our pocket,” Barry wrote. “It is the public’s assurance that we are a highly skilled tradesperson, who can perform electrical work in a safe and efficient manner.  If the integrity of your license is not protected, it will diminish your ability to work, it will also have a direct impact on your income and it could lead to an increase in electrical injuries.  For this reason, the IBEW/CCO support for the Ontario College of Trades was contingent on OCOT becoming very active in enforcing trade certifications.  Our contractors can compete with the non-union when they follow the rules on ratios and using registered apprentices and certified tradespeople.  Without an effective enforcement strategy, I will not support the Ontario College of Trades on any level whatsoever.”

(The OCOT has not yet reviewed nor recommended on changes to electricians’ apprentice ratios.)

“The enforcement role being undertaken by the Ontario College of Trades is a significant reason why the fee for your license has increased,” Barry writes. “If industry is to have a greater say on how it runs its affairs, then industry must pay for the privilege.  We have seen what a poor job governments of all political stripes have done on our training files.  If we want the responsibility to have a say on important matters like enforcement and other matters, then we must accept the responsibility to pay for the infrastructure to support it.

“The Ontario College of Trades has the potential to be the most important positive change  involving skilled trades since the introduction of compulsory certification,” he wrote. “I would respectfully ask that you give the Ontario College of Trades your support during its early growing pains for the long-term benefit of the electrical industry.”

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