Anibal Valente, vice-president, corporate, for PCL Constructors Inc., is wrapping up his year as the Canadian Construction Association's (CCA) chair.
Valente said much of his time was spent travelling the country, visiting associations and hearing from localCCA members and partners.
"The time I have spent going across the country, visiting the local associations and meeting the local volunteers...to see their dedication to help the industry is amazing. It gives me a really good feeling that the industry is in good hands when there are so many willing volunteers out there," Valente said.
While he started his position as chair intending to focus on apprenticeships and the Gold Seal program, Valente found that the issue of payment was at the forefront of members' minds.
"While I am still interested in those topics, one thing started to become very apparent to me as we went around the country — the whole prompt payment and slow payment issue," he said. "The industry is being hijacked for some reason. We used to get paid in 15 days, then 30, then 45, then 60."
Valente noted he recently saw a letter showing a major supplier planned to pay its contractors in 120 days.
"We thought that this is ridiculous," he said. "That struck a chord with me and we devoted our annual summit with all our partners to that one topic."
A task force has been formed to look into the issue at the federal level. There are also reviews being done on construction payment in B.C. and Ontario that the CCA is watching.
Valente said he is proud of the progress made on promoting infrastructure investment, with all major national political parties making it a part of their platforms. Before the federal election, CCA staff met with party leaders to discuss the issue.
Justin Trudeau's Liberals, with the boldest portfolio on infrastructure, were elected.
"The whole infrastructure file, 10 or 15 years ago, if you mentioned infrastructure to a politician they couldn't even spell it, they had no idea what it was," Valente said. "We believe that infrastructure investment is good for the country."
The CCA has been promoting infrastructure investment intended to make Canada more competitive, in such sectors as transportation improvements and ports. Valente said he is eager to see what commitments the government makes when the federal budget is released in the coming weeks.
Valente is also proud of the CCA's role in establishing the Lean Construction Institute — Canada (LCI-Canada). LCI-Canada originated after discussions between the CCA and a group of industry members who were looking to create a formal lean construction body of some kind in Canada. LCI-Canada's special committee status within CCA is similar to the association's other special committees, such as the Canadian Design-Build Institute.
"I believe that it is the way of the future. It is not a fad, it's something that is going to take us a while to get everyone in the construction family to be involved in," Valente said.
"Engineers, architects, owners, sub-contractors, general contractors — everyone has to practise lean for lean to be effective."
Valente said significant progress was made on an industry ethics course and a best practices guide for aboriginal engagement. Both are expected to be released this summer.
The CCA also spent a lot of effort this year addressing the quality of design documents after concern about the deterioration of those documents. The CCA put together a team of staff to go around and hold sessions with stakeholders. A summary of these sessions is planned for the annual CCA conference in New Orleans.
"This is something that takes a long time to come up with suggestions to improve it," Valente said. "It is not a witch hunt or a finger point."
Valente said during his time with the CCA they were also able to reaffirm a commitment to Gold Seal as a core program. The program was reshaped slightly for effectiveness and the CCA plans to continue funding it.
"The year has gone by very fast," Valente said. "And I think that it is a good sign. I guess it shows it was an enjoyable time in my life."
Valente also thanked PCL for supporting him in being the first CCA chair from the company. PCL was founded in 1906, as E.E. Contractors, by Ernest Edward Poole. He was on the original CCA board and many other executives have also served.
"I have to thank PCL for allowing me to do this because obviously it's a big indication on their part of how much they support the association and the industry," Valente said. "They are a great company that likes to give back."