But we’ve never done it like that before?

Countless times throughout history the phrase, “but we’ve never done it like that before,” has been uttered. And an equal number of times, someone has demonstrated that it could be done, and this ultimately changed people’s perception and beliefs. It was also the impetus for new and exciting innovations that allowed things to be done better, faster and with more ease for individuals, organizations and society, as a whole.

So why bring up something so obvious to everyone today?

Because prior to any breakthrough being made and the subsequent societal paradigm shift in thinking taking root, the resultant benefit was not self-evident. It wasn’t among the group consciousness for it to be self-evident. Therefore, until you know it, you don’t. Crude as an analogy but effective. Let me demonstrate.

Prior to the Roman aqueducts being contemplated, designed, constructed and tested, indoor plumbing was not the norm. Yet today, the thought is so incredibly foreign to all of us that it would be laughable at best.

The same can be said about air travel. Prior to the contemplation, design, construction and experimentation of the airplane, that luxury was strictly limited to the purview of our fine feathered friends, the birds. And yet, today no one thinks twice about booking a flight thousands of kilometers away because air travel is part of our everyday lives.

So once again, why raise this topic today?

The rationale for my article today is to focus on what we as an industry can do when we come together; united and with a sense of direction and purpose. We would literally change the way things are done for the better.

Allow me to elaborate. Prior to this pandemic, a large-scale epidemic was something that had only occurred in history. Numerous generations had never witnessed anything of this magnitude and clearly didn’t have the tools in place to deal with something this crippling. This was completely new and unknown to us all.

Now look at how we as an industry responded. The ICI sector came together and started to talk and share policies and procedures and to discuss what was and wasn’t working on site. We were learning collectively from this negative event and becoming stronger because of that group interaction and dynamic. And yes, there were those that said “but we’ve never done it like that before!”

Fast forward to today. The ICI construction sector is looked upon as the leaders in health and safety, and we are being used as a shining example to other industries on how to get it right. The OGCA Safety Committee and the League of Champions worked tirelessly to inform, educate, and elevate the industry. Although this was not the norm prior to COVID-19, since its onset, the conversation has not stopped. We are still sharing information and experiences each and every chance we can. This is what has never been done before…the industry focusing on one single issue that affects everyone to the common betterment of all.

So why didn’t we do it before? In short, because it wasn’t necessary.

Inherently, contractors, like people, are creatures of habit and don’t change until it is necessary to do so. COVID-19 was the catalyst for change because no one was immune to the global effects that literally shut down all the developed nations of the world.

So now that the initial threat of COVID-19 has been dealt with, we can all go back to how we did business prior to the event, right? Not exactly.

Our industry has proven conclusively that we can come together and perform synergistically. The totality of a focused outcome can be more than the sum of the individual parts.

I propose that the OGCA now focus on the next challenge that we have seen as a resultant outcome from the pandemic. The unilateral downloading of a disproportional amount of risk onto the contractors. I fully understand that risk was something that our contractors dealt with on each project and with each tender, but the provisions being tabled have been worsening with time.

The OGCA is constantly involved in a number of active tenders and facilitates a dialogue, through the association, to the bidders to make them aware of questionable contract language. This language would translate into undue burdens to all of our contractors should it be accepted. And I know that some contractors accept this language either unknowingly, because they haven’t fully read the contract, or because they believe they don’t have the power to dissuade the owner. I would like to advise that as an OGCA member, you are stronger than you believe.

The OGCA is here to be the combined voice of all of our members, small, medium and large, and to advocate on behalf of your shared interests. Like COVID-19, poor contract provisions affect every contractor and if unopposed, will spell nothing but issues for contractors moving forward.

What can we do?

The moment you see questionable language in a tender document, contact the OGCA offices immediately. The association facilitates the communication to the other bidders, independently of each contractor, to ensure that the upmost professionalism and transparency are adhered to. The OGCA will then take the necessary steps to position our members to the best possible outcome. Clearly, this is different in each tender, but the wide scale qualification of a bid with the questionable language being addressed is incredibly effective. Ultimately, the more the OGCA pushes back on these matters, the more likely the language will not be tabled in subsequent tenders.

So, although some of you may be thinking, “but we’ve never done it like that before,” I want to advise you that together we can change the direction of things that affect this industry. The OGCA has been continually contemplating, designing, constructing and experimenting with ways to combat the use of unfair and disproportional language that downloads risk onto our contractors. Remember, we have proven that united our sector rises above even global challenges to be the leaders for others.

We as an industry can do great things when we come together; united and with a sense of direction and purpose. We would literally change the way things are done for the better.


Should any of our members have any issues with tender language or, or if you require any other type of assistance from the OGCA, please contact me directly at giovanni@ogca.ca or via phone at 905.671.3969.