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SKCA’s ‘lean in’ approach an exciting opportunity
By Jim Timlick

 

Throughout its history, the Saskatchewan Construction Association (SKCA) has undergone numerous changes and transformations.

Still, it is difficult to imagine any bigger shift in its 56-year existence than the one the organization underwent last year. On Oct. 1, the SKCA adopted a “lean in” approach to the way it operates that will see the provincial association and its four regional partner groups pool their resources as part of a new effort to be more integrated and less siloed.

“It’s exciting,” said Megan Jane, provincial manager of marketing and communications for the SKCA.

“At an operational level, there were so many opportunities for us to save resources and combine forces and technology platforms. Those kinds of things will all be streamlined to produce a better product or service for members, better educational opportunities and more concise communications. This way, we have the entire resources of our network to pull on. Everything we do … will be with the whole team behind it.”

The SKCA and its four regional partners (Moose Jaw Construction Association [MJCA], Prince Albert Construction Association [PACA], Regina Construction Association [RCA] and Saskatoon Construction Association [SCA]) will continue to maintain their own separate identities, staff and boards of directors as part of the new operations model.

The main difference, says Jane, is that their operations will be far more efficient because the new operation model will allow each association’s staff to share their specialized skillsets and eliminate costly redundancies. For example, last year the MJCA’s golf tournament received organizational support from the SKCA and the four partners.

“We’ll be doing the same things as always, but we’ll be able to do them better because we won’t have to do them multiple times,” she said.

The foundation for the SKCA was originally laid in 1964, when representatives of MJCA, PACA, RCA and SCA came together to discuss the formation of a new provincial association to advocate on behalf of the industry. The Federation of Saskatchewan Construction Associations was formed in 1965, and became the SKCA a year later to be the collective voice of these four independent associations.

SKCA members are scattered throughout the province with the bulk of membership coming from the province’s two largest centres: Regina and Saskatoon. Any company is eligible to join the SKCA, but must join through one of the organization’s local affiliated partners. 

As part of its new integrated operations model, the SKCA is led by an executive leadership team comprised of Mark Cooper, president and CEO of the SKCA; Shannon Friesen, CEO of the SCA and Kevin Dureau, executive director of the RCA. Cooper is responsible for advocacy, marketing and communications, Friesen oversees events and education and Dureau is responsible for technology and non-dues revenue.

Cooper says the primary mandate of the SKCA is to provide a unified voice for the Saskatchewan construction industry, and to help develop the business environment and regulations that impact its members to be more favourable to the success of their businesses.

“Our vision is to provide collaborative and trusted leadership that sustains a prosperous construction industry and a better quality of life for the people of Saskatchewan,” he said in an email interview. A major component of the SKCA’s efforts is its advocacy work. Since its inception, it has advocated to the provincial government and the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board on behalf of its members on a wide range of issues including employment rates, premium structures and service delivery. Those efforts, Jane says, help member companies focus on what they do best: building.

“We do the work that your company would never be able to do on its own,” she said of the SKCA’s role. “You would never have the time and resources to change the law … or to advocate to government bodies about why a certain tax or policy is problematic for the industry and Saskatchewan’s economy. Members can pick up the phone and call us if they have a concern. If we don’t know the answer, we know who does and we can connect quickly with them.”

One of the SKCA’s most recent advocacy efforts was its work on getting prompt payment legislation enacted for the Saskatchewan construction industry. Last October, the Saskatchewan government passed the Builders’ Lien (Prompt Payment) Amendment Act, which will officially come into effect March 1, 2022. As part of the legislation, owners and developers will be required to provide payment within 28 days of receiving a proper invoice for construction services, and contractors will have seven days to provide payment to subcontractors after receiving payment from an owner or developer. The changes are similar to amendments recently introduced in other Canadian jurisdictions including Ontario and Nova Scotia. 

The SKCA and its members let out a huge collective sigh of relief when the news was announced in mid-
October after nearly six years of negotiations on the issue with the provincial government.

“It’s not perfect. It’s not going to solve every single issue and there are still a couple of industries that are exempt, but it’s a huge step forward and this is going to protect a lot of contractors from not being paid for work they’ve already completed on time,” Jane said.

In addition to its advocacy work, the SKCA provides regular online and in-person training and education courses tailored to the needs of members and focused on industry trends. Some of the topics covered include understanding construction documents, productivity, field scheduling, contract workshops and construction law. Cooper says many of the programs are eligible for points towards obtaining Gold Seal accreditation through the Canadian Construction Association.

SKCA partner agencies also have a number of mentorship programs in place for members. The RCA offers Future Construction Leaders, an informal communication network through which members can promote networking within the industry and exchange information on industry activities and opportunities. As well, the SCA offers Young Executives, an opportunity for up-and-coming professionals to expand their networks and get more involved in SCA training and social activities.

Cooper says while the SKCA has accomplished much over the last few years, it still has a lot of work to do. It will continue with the development and enhancement of SupplierLink Saskatchewan, it’s very own technology platform that connects vendors with buyers of construction services. It also plans to continue monitoring supply chain disruptions and material price escalations and provide recommendations to members on how to address these issues. It’s also identified continuing labour shortages and how to address them as a top priority.

Membership in the SKCA is not limited solely to construction companies and includes a wide range of affiliate and associate members, including hotel owners and law firms. Jane says new members, including piling and deep foundation businesses, can join the association at any time by joining one of its four regional partners, which automatically gives them membership in the SKCA. Membership, in this case, definitely has its advantages.

“We’re fairly uniquely positioned in Saskatchewan. We’re small in numbers, but mighty in terms of our influence. Everyone is able to pull together … and talk about the collective good of the industry when needed,” she said. 

 

 

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Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.