ARHCA members respond to COVID pressures with determination, ingenuity and flexibility
As Canada's largest heavy civil construction association, the Alberta Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association's (ARHCA) members construct, maintain, and rehabilitate roads, bridges, sewers, water systems, and other infrastructure for residential commercial, oilfield, energy and forestry projects. Now, it's no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic made roadbuilding and construction work a little more difficult. In fact, as soon as COVID-19 hit our province, government and contractors knew immediately that Public Health Orders would impact businesses everywhere. Everyone needed to act to keep workers safe and projects going. As a responsive association, the ARHCA worked quickly to help our members. Most notably, we acted on three things:
Working for Albertans
Though it was only a few months ago, the beginning of the pandemic in Alberta was a chaotic time. No one knew how bad it would get, but both the public and government recognized the critical importance of transportation, and of highway maintenance contractors to the province's supply chain in securing the necessities of life for all Albertans. As essential businesses, our crews had to work to procure enough PPE, but also to develop stringent protocols and guidelines for its use. The ARHCA supported this work, communicating with government, and sharing messaging.
Working with each other
With a membership as diverse as ours, it is important for the ARHCA to recognize – in everything we do – that we need to provide value to all members, big and small. Providing COVID-related support is no exception. Through our Safety Committee, the ARHCA pooled the best health and safety practices from committee representatives and shared them with both members and government. With the massive amount of information available, it was important to ensure our members had high-level, construction-related health and safety guidelines.
Working with government
After securing the government's commitment to keep highway maintenance and road construction open, the ARHCA turned to advocacy for economic stimulus spending on infrastructure and risk mitigation in contracts. At the outset, the ARHCA made several suggestions to reduce risk in these unprecedented circumstances so that contractors have more certainty as to what they can expect, should changes in government policy to fight COVID-19 cause delays and additional costs.
As a result of our advocacy efforts, and the Alberta Government's added $410 million investment in roads this year, the ARHCA is proud to announce that the Alberta Government has agreed to strike the Fairness Advisory Panel so contractors can work directly with government to seek relief for unforeseen COVID-related disruptions in both time and costs. Alberta Transportation Minister Ric McIver appointed two ARHCA nominees to the six-member panel. Contractors can enjoy less anxiety in bidding projects knowing that there is recognition by government that these unprecedented times require new thinking. This is a major achievement. Government is now recognizing that risk must be shared and appropriately allocated to have a well-functioning and competitive market to deliver value to taxpayers.
The ARHCA is the largest heavy construction association in Canada. We represent contractors who work on the construction and rehabilitation of highways, municipal roads, bridges, sewer and water projects, as well as the suppliers (such as equipment dealers, finance companies, aggregate suppliers, law firms, etc.), and consulting engineers who work with them. ARHCA member companies can also be found constructing streets, curbs and gutters, sewer and water systems, and other infrastructure for residential, commercial, oilfield, oil sands and forestry projects.
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