September 29. 2020.
By Robert Kucheran
Chairperson, Canada’s Building Trades Unions
CANADA IS FACING unprecedented health, social and economic challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. The over half a million highly-skilled women and men that make up Canada’s Building Trades Unions are committed to continue working on building the critical infrastructure necessary to keep Canadians healthy and the Canadian economy strong as our nation weathers this crisis. From those in the province of British Columbia, out to the coast of Newfoundland, it has been the men and women of the Building Trades that have continued to go to work every day: building temporary health care facilities, maintaining the roads and bridges that get people to work, and driving the trucks that are moving the supplies we all need. The upkeep, maintenance and construction of critical infrastructure must continue and grow to face the increasing demands of Canadians and Canadian businesses, now, and as we move forward from this crisis and prepare for the future.
Below are the five pillars we have identified in order to maintain the ever-increasing and important demand for critical infrastructure, and to ensure Canada’s economy can recover quickly, for Canada and its construction sector as the country moves forward:
Building a Stronger Canada. Canada has the opportunity to utilize our highly skilled and trained workforce to help grow and build an even stronger Canada as the country works to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. This can be achieved with an emphasis on large shovel-ready projects, and by focusing on projects that employ lots of different skill sets.
Ensuring Community Benefits. Canada must ensure that projects benefit local communities, marginalized groups and apprentices and all Canadians by adopting Community Benefits Agreements on federally-funded infrastructure projects. The federal government is in the unique position to lead on this matter to ensure all Canadians benefit from these projects.
Training Canada’s Future Workforce. Canada must meet the growing demand for labour by providing support and assistance to the institutions and projects that Canadian apprentices rely on for their apprenticeships, in the classroom and on the job.
Investing in Critical Infrastructure. With a prepared shovel ready list of projects, Canada has the opportunity to invest in the essential infrastructure that keeps Canada, Canadians and our economy functioning and productive, and our nation strong and prosperous.
Raising the Bar on Health and Safety. Canada must keep Canadian tradespeople and all Canadian communities safe, as we continue to promote and raise the bar on safer workplaces now and into the future.