Mechanical contractors group meets in Whistler

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Marijuana legalization causing concern among members

By Leah Den Hartogh

Around 235 delegates and companions attended the Mechanical Contractors of Canada’s (MCAC) 77th annual national conference at the Westin Resort and Spa in Whistler, B.C. Sept. 19-22.

Typical B.C. weather at this time of year meant it was a cold and rainy event, but that didn’t stop participants from trekking to the Olympic Park to participate in the infamous MCAC Games. At this year’s games, participants sawed logs, raced on skis, fired guns, threw axes, and shot hockey pucks. Members from MCA Saskatchewan took home the trophy for this year’s competition.

The conference kicked off with the opening backyard barbeque outside the Westin Resort where members dressed in their best lumberjack clothing as the new “voice of God,” Dan Milroy (Bradford-White Canada), commenced the conference.

Over the next few days, members participated in panel discussions, wine tastings, general meetings, business sessions, and general sessions. Right after the opening breakfast, Mark Gungor presented his “Laugh your way to a Better Marriage” seminar which, as promised, had everyone in the filled conference room laughing and giving knowing looks to their spouses.

Pot legislation in Canada

B.C. lawyer Chris Munroe spoke about marijuana in the workplace, explaining what rights employers have over their employees when it is legalized in Canada Oct. 17. Munroe began by informing the crowd that the “sky isn’t falling.” Employees who were already smoking before legalization will continue with the practice, he expects.

That didn’t leave the members in attendance more hopeful about what to do to stop their employees from going to a jobsite “stoned.” Many were concerned about the connection of smoking marijuana and addiction, and what they would be able to do in terms of terminating someone claiming to have an addiction.

Munroe suggested that employers set up a policy for all drugs similar to that in place for alcohol. Elements would include: purpose, applications to both recreational and prescription drugs, differentiations between safety sensitive and non-safety sensitive roles, prohibiting impairment, setting out roles and responsibilities of managers and employees, requirement to self-disclose an addiction and/or prescription, and consequences for breaching policy. The audience heard court case examples as to how to make sure that they aren’t put into a bad situation because of the new legislation.

Best practices

One panel that drew a larger crowd concerned best practices in mechanical contracting. A few issues were brought forward by the panel members. One that stuck out was the issue that installers don’t know exactly what they are installing “for instance, they know it’s a copper pipe, but they don’t know if it’s not a water designated pipe,” remarked Tim Padfield, Alberta director of MCA and owner of Pad-Car Mechanical, Medicine Hat, Alta.

The industry skills shortage also came up. This brought about a discussion on whether or not it is best just to simply get more people in the trades. Rod Yeoh, principal at Dialog, Vancouver, B.C., said the industry needs more intelligent people who go into the trades because they are passionate about it, rather than seeing it as a last resort option.

Changes to MCAC

This year, MCAC saw several changes. It was the first event for MCAC under CEO Pierre Boucher after former CEO Richard McKeagan retired in June.

Members elected Jack Bavis, G.J. Cahill, Mount Pearl, Nfld., as president, replacing Dave Flamand, Peak Mechanical Partnership, Saskatoon, Sask., who has completed his one-year term.

Three different categories of awards were presented. The Doug Crawford Memorial Award went to Milroy. Lifetime Awards were presented to Robert Hoare, Adelt Mechanical Works Ltd, Tom Vincent, president of Atlantica Mechanical Contractors Inc., Dartmouth, N.S., and James Derksen, Derksen Plumbing & Heating, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Gaetan Beaulieu, Beaulieu Plumbing & Mechanical Inc., Edmundston, N.B., received the Lloyd MacLean Memorial Award for his contributions to the organization.

The next MCAC national conference will take place on Oct. 2-5, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee at the Hilton Nashville Downtown.

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