The best associations offer three pillars of benefits to their members: Education, Information and Advocacy. MCABC has, since its inception, been a leader in all three areas. Of the three pillars, advocacy is the least tangible benefit of MCABC so it’s often forgotten, but is arguably the most important.
MCABC’s education program grew out of a need for specialized training. While public institutions do a great job of providing general training in construction management and construction technologies, they did not and largely still do not provide the specialization required by the mechanical sector. We stepped in and filled that void.
We also sift through information distributed by governments, affiliated agencies and other industry groups, repackage it, and deliver it to you. Here again, you get something specific for your money.
Advocacy: the intangible benefit
Advocacy is perhaps the one service or benefit that you cannot readily put your hands on. Yet the advocacy role is probably the one need of membership that lies at the core of an organization’s reason for being. If the Mechanical Contractors Association did not exist today, would it be created? The answer is, absolutely. The reason is simple. The world in which the mechanical trades operate requires a collective and united response. Mechanical contractors need an advocate and we are that advocate.
MCABC advances it members’ interests through relations with both government and industry. The association has a proud history of presenting its issues and defending its members’ interests. Some issues make it onto public platform and are covered by the media. However, most of what we do happens quietly, in collaboration with government agencies and ministries.
Successful relationships with industry
MCABC was a founding member of COCA (Council of Construction Associations), created to lobby what is today WorkSafeBC. Its success is evident in lower premiums and improved on-site safety. Our relationship with WorkSafeBC led to the creation of the BC Construction Safety Alliance, which provides specialized safety training and assistance to construction industry. We were there at the inception of the various industry training entities that grew out of the old Apprenticeship Board, which today is known as the Industry Training Authority. We are represented on the ITA’s Construction Associations Sector Advisory Group: CASAG.
MCABC has had a seat on the Public Construction Council since its creation; the PCC facilitates dialogue with public construction purchasers. Here, we discuss the specifics of public construction contracts and give guidance and input to the entire government procurement process.
In addition, MCABC has contributed to the Plumbing Code amendment process during every code amendment cycle, and through the Plumbing Industry Advisory Council, which was founded by the association. MCABC ensured the National Research Council had representatives amending the Code who present BC industry requirements.
Working with government
MCABC regularly takes contractor cases to municipalities on issues regarding permits or regulatory requirements. One such matter recently arose with the City of Vancouver concerning the use of concrete insert anchors and applications for piping and equipment installations. Communications and meetings with City officials obtained clarification of, and favourable changes to, the new regulations.
This advocacy work happens regularly: member companies present their issue to us, work with staff to articulate their concerns, then we advocate their position with governments or agencies.
Less frequent but more public are the BIG issues where governments are asked to create legislation to address a trade or industry concern. We typically work with other industry associations on these. For example, we worked with COCTA to lobby for a provincial Contractor Licensing Act to establish a contractor qualification baseline and to reduce the red tape required to become a contractor.
A current example of MCABC’s advocacy is our leadership in bringing Prompt Payment legislation to British Columbia. Since this is an issue of national interest, it is getting the attention of both provincial and federal governments. Federal Prompt Payment legislation is currently before the Senate in latter stages of approval.
While these larger issues may be controversial and political in nature, MCABC has not, in recent history, endorsed a political party. Instead we work to de-politicize its issues, arguing for reasoned greater good. Indeed, success when advocating for legislation often lies not with any political party but in the uncontrollable: timing, elections, competition with other priorities and, of course, the strength of the lobby.
Staying connected on your behalf
Industry relations are just as important as government relations and MCABC has strong relationships with its construction partners. COCTA has served as both a sounding board and discussion forum for the trades. The BC Construction Association and its regional affiliated members (i.e. VRCA), Independent Contractors and Businesses Association, and the Construction Labour Relations Association, are our sister associations. Likewise, the work of architects and consulting engineers impacts what contractors do. And we cannot forget our customers at BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association), UDI (Urban Development Institute) or the BC Business Council – the work of all of these affect how MCABC members conduct their businesses. For all the stated reasons, MCABC stays connected to ensure our members’ interests are being met. Advocacy can be effective – advocacy works!