2019 Conference Highlights

OPCA – Celebrating 25 Years of Industry Excellence

By Michelle Rae, Executive Director

2019 has been a milestone year for the OPCA as we reached our 25th year of incorporation and this past March our members joined us in Toronto for our annual conference to help us celebrate our anniversary. Our three-day event was held in conjunction with Ensemble IQ’s Convenience U/Carwacs Show, Canada’s largest petroleum trade show.

Looking back at the history of the OPCA, it was a challenging time for the industry and even more challenging for petroleum contractors to come together as not everyone always agreed what was best for the industry. But many persevered and the groundwork was laid in 1993 by a small group of contractors to not only come together as a unified voice for the petroleum industry but to develop a standard training program and in 1994 became a registered association.

OPCA BOARD AND STAFF 2019 – Front row: David Thompson, Elson Fernandes, Gord Thompson, Dave Ledingham. Back row: Bill Rathwell, Terry Ablett, Lance Mullett, Michelle Rae, Ken Jamieson. Absent: Lou Cerruti, Carmen Villeneuve

The OPCA was founded in 1994 by a group of contractors to not only come together as a unified group but to develop a standard training program for work on petroleum systems. Many are still involved to this day because they believe in the OPCA’s core value – Protecting the Integrity of our Trade!

“The organization continues to represent the members”, says OPCA founding president Gord Thompson. “Even in places where some of us don’t get involved, we still must consider what the other members might be interested in and what they’re concerned about and try to act on their behalf.”

Watch our 2019 AGM highlight video


The OPCA has persisted for twenty-five years by identifying areas or gaps in the industry where improvements are needed and developing programs for training and certification, a petroleum specific safety program, and best practices for our industry.

The OPCA is supported by over one hundred and thirty member companies comprising largely of petroleum contractors and service companies as well as a number of petroleum equipment manufacturers and distributors.

Eighty-five percent of our members are contractors representing thousands of employees across our Central, Eastern, Northern, Western and Metro Toronto regions of Ontario.

While we have seen the effect of merging and retiring companies within the OPCA membership over the last five years, we are also pleased to have also welcomed many new members in 2018.

Our associate members are industry related companies that have an interest in the activities of the OPCA and include consultants, engineers, equipment manufacturers, distributors, environmental companies, insurance companies and training providers.

The OPCA also represents members and industry on a number of regulatory groups and committees such as the Technical Standards and Safety Authority, ULC, CSA, National Research Council and CCME. OPCA Board members are committed to volunteering their time and expertise providing valuable input on industry related issues, assisting with development of new requirements and updating existing codes and regulations.

The OPCA values the relationships we have with industry and regulators. Many industry associations including the OPCA have knowledge, experience and consistency. Many of OPCA contractor members as well as members of our Board represent second and even third generations in the business. This is why we see the importance of working together to achieve common goals that protect the safety of everyone.  Current OPCA president Ken Jamieson agrees, “I believe the OPCA is as important today as it was 25 years ago.  It was started by a group of individuals to deal with a common issue facing the industry and we all know business evolves continuously and we are still facing issues that overlap us all. Sometimes, we think that it’s just us having these problems, but then we all come together as a group and start to talk and realize everybody is dealing with similar issues. And that’s what we try and do here at the OPCA, to address those issues that are common to us all and work together to find solutions for everyone’s benefit.”

Ken also reflected on OPCA’s 25th anniversary. “It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years. It’s been an honour to work together with a group of individuals, many of them from day one is still involved today. It’s incredible to see a group of companies who compete day in and day out on projects and tenders, put everything aside and work as a team toward common goals that benefit us all.”

Ken Jamieson addresses the membership at the OPCA Annual General Meeting

And so on these lines, we strive to offer our members activities and events that promote the theme of safety and education at our annual conference. On day one, over one hundred people comprising of members and their employees joined us for the manufacturer training that we fortunate to offer every year with the collaboration of the many companies that host the sessions including Containment Solutions, Icon Containment, Franklin Fueling, OPW, Veeder-Root, Red Leonard & Associates, PD McLaren and ZCL. Over twenty sessions were offered throughout the day. These sessions keep our members up to date on the latest petroleum equipment, such as tank installation and piping procedures and fuel management systems used throughout the industry.

Another important initiative for OPCA is the Petroleum Oriented Safety Training Program. POST was created with contractors working in the petroleum industry giving them the convenience of following one consistent safety standard when working on petroleum sites. Many contractors tell us POST has enhanced their company’s safety culture ensuring their workers have the best tools available to work safely.

POST is now widely used across Canada with thousands of companies adopting POST safety standards.

In 2018, POST has encompassed almost sixteen thousand workers representing over four thousand companies in every province and territory across Canada. We have also seen the continued support of POST remain steady over the last five years.

We are also proud to hold an annual POST safety forum with a variety of speakers discussing many issues relevant to our industry from safety engagement surveys to how to properly use and care for safety equipment, all to provide some positive insight on everyone’s commitment to safety.

This year, our guest speakers included Mike Papulkas of Shell Canada, Stasy Presutto of Suncor Energy and David Ardito of Industrial Safety Trainers. Mike discussed Shell’s global implementation of “Blue Zones”, a visual engagement tool for the frontline workers to discuss job related risks. Stasy discussed mitigating dropped objects on work sites such as using hand tools at heights and noted “dropped objects” is among the top three causes of serious injuries and fatalities in the oil and gas industry.

Our keynote speaker at the safety forum was David Ardito of Industrial Safety Trainers. David discussed impairment in the worksite, how standard drug and alcohol policies typical do not address this issue and provided tools to attendees on how to investigate incidences of impairment (stay tuned to the POST website as all of these presentation will be available to view and share with your staff).

OPCA Members and Staff at Dinner celebrating OPCAs 25th anniversary

The final day of the conference commenced with the OPCA Annual General Meeting chaired by OPCA President Ken Jamieson. We were pleased to welcome several guest speakers as well as provide an annual report of the association’s initiatives.

David Mason of Canada Brokerlink and representative of OPCA’s insurance program provided an insurance industry update. Canada Brokerlink has provided programs for auto, general and environmental liability insurance as well as personal insurance for members and their employees.  We are grateful to Dave and his staff for their continued service to OPCA and its members.

In keeping with the spirit of promoting a positive safety culture as well as paying it forward, the OPCA now hosts an annual golf tournament each fall supporting the Threads of Life organization.

Threads of Life brings hope and healing to Canadian families who have been affected by a workplace fatality, life-altering injury or occupational disease. It is a national charity connecting more than 2,700 family members through one-on-one peer support, links to community support services, and the opportunity to take action to help prevent similar tragedies to other families.

The OPCA is proud to be a sponsor of such an important organization and with our member’s support is thrilled to have raised almost forty thousand dollars to date through these events.

Our guest speaker from Threads of Life was Lorna Catrambone, Regional Development Coordinator for Central Canada. Lorna gave a presentation on all of Thread’s of Life’s many initiatives, showing how far their donor’s support goes towards these programs.

Marcus Cormier, President of the CPCA also said a few words congratulating the OPCA on their anniversary as well as their initiatives including the petroleum mechanic training program OPCA originally developed in 1994 that continues to be the highest standard for training not only for Ontario but for provinces across Canada that have adopted the standard through the CPCA.  Marcus acknowledged the work being done by everyone involved benefits many contractors across Canada.

Also in attendance were representatives from the Technical Standards and Safety Authority including President and CEO Bonnie Rose. Bonnie gave a presentation on TSSA’s transition to an outcome based regulator including implementing new business systems and processes and modernizing their evidence-based regulatory model.

TSSA CEO Bonnie Rose

The meeting concluded with a special presentation to OPCA’s long-time conference sponsors. Special recognition was given to the following companies for their continued support for many years:

  • Canada Brokerlink
  • KMD
  • National Energy Equipment
  • Waleco
  • Wayne Fueling Systems
  • PD McLaren
  • Hi-Sharp Products Inc.
  • ASI Fluid Management
  • Southwest Energy Control Systems of Canada

We thank all of our members who attended the conference and for their continued support. Save the date for 2020, the conference is scheduled for March 2-4. Stay tuned to the OPCA website at www.OPCAonline.org for details.