For 93 years the Ontario Electrical League (OEL) has represented open shop electrical contractors, electricians, municipal utilities, electrical inspectors, distributors, manufacturers and their representatives, consulting engineers, educators and service companies. Through more than 20 chapters province-wide, OEL represents more than 12,000 members.
OEL’s website says it fights “for a 1:1 apprenticeship ratio, less bureaucratic red tape, fair and democratic labour laws and other changes that will benefit the electrical industry.” The OEL represents its members before “multiple government authorities and industry partners including the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA); Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB); Ministry of Labour (MOL); Electrical Contractor Registration Agency Advisory Council (ECRA); Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU); and Ontario College of Trades (OCOT); Construction and Design Alliance of Ontario (CDAO); and the Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance (OSTA).”
Member services representative Cathy Frederickson says OEL ensures open shop workers are represented at the tables where discussions and decisions are being made. “We got involved recently with WSIB to have changes made to its classifications and are working closely with ESA on the new Electrical Safety Code.”
She says the association is also working closely with ESA on new licensing that will delve into how contractors are licensed and what they require. They also work with local ESA inspectors.
Frederickson says it has always been a challenge for open shop contractors to bid on closed projects. The OEL is currently working with individual municipalities to open their closed-bid projects. She says there has been some success in Ottawa but that Toronto is still a challenge.
Saying the work of OCOT is still a concern, she says OEL is working with the Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance (OSTA) to voice its concerns and to monitor and follow its progress. “It’s difficult for smaller businesses to take on apprentices. We don’t want it to be more difficult for them to meet ratios.”
Over the coming months she says OEL will be watching for the Dean Report to be released, awaiting a final proposal regarding the WSIB rate framework, the implementation of the new Electrical Safety Code changes to licensing under ECRA and the current review of the proposed Construction Lien Act.
Frederickson says small business owners and contractors are inundated with these and other requirement and regulation changes. OEL works to ensure members are aware of updates such as these that affect them, as well as other issues including Workplace Electrical Safety Training and the new Working at Heights Training. “We work closely with the relevant agencies to ensure we have the information our members need and that it gets to them in advance.”
OEL also supports members through benefit programs and member partners who can offer everything from legal advice to vehicle finance and lease advantages.
The association provides both online and in-person training opportunities to support members as well.
Frederickson says over the past 12 months OEL has also enhanced communication with the hiring of a dedicated communications representative, Huong Nguyen, to handle weekly newsletters, bulletins, and event communications.
She was brought on as well to help grow and support OEL’s membership.
There are many reasons to be involved, she says. “Giving back is something inherent in contractors across the board. Belonging to OEL gives our members – from the manufacturing, distribution and contractor side – that opportunity.”
She says change is constant and coming. It is important, in whatever way they can manage, for everyone in the industry to come together to be heard as one voice. Otherwise, decisions are made by people who don’t know and lack the right information, she said. And once decisions are made and changes put into place, they won’t be undone.
Through its 20 chapters, Frederickson says OEL makes membership convenient and accessible. People can participate locally to get information, hear relevant speakers, and be part of the larger provincial voice.
For more information, visit www.oel.org.