People Moves: July 2023

Philippe Adam will be Pomerleau’s new CEO starting this August. Pierre and Francis Pomerleau will gradually withdraw from their operational roles. In addition to remaining the company’s principal shareholders, they will continue to play an active role on the Board, with Pierre serving as Executive Chairman and Francis as Executive Vice-Chairman. Philippe Adam joined Pomerleau in 2021 as executive vice-president and chief financial officer.

From left to right : Philippe Adam, Francis Pomerleau and Pierre Pomerleau. – Pomerleau

Chris Erbus has joined Graham‘s Winnipeg office as operations manager. Erbus’ project experience includes museums, galleries, historical buildings high rise towers, renovation and hospital/healthcare. He also has a background in carpentry.

Jesse Unke has been named president and CEO of Maven Consulting Limited. Unke will succeed co-founder Trevor St Germain who will continue to act as a member of the board. Unke is an engineering and construction executive with over 20 years of experience.

“I am excited to take Maven to the next level by driving our strategy, strengthening and developing our corporate culture, and further building on Maven’s profile in our industry as a leader in engineering, project management, and construction services for power utilities and municipal infrastructure.” 

– Unke

Russ Wlad will be Allnorth‘s chief growth and strategy officer. Wlad has than 35 years of experience in public and private sector consulting. He was key to leading Stantec’s canadian operations, working strategically with business partners to achieve growth in new sectors, markets and geographies. Allnorth stated that he will play a pivotal role in enhancing Allnorth’s organic and acquisition growth.

Fiona Blondin has been appointed director of High Frequency Rail‘s board of director. She currently serves as vice president, Indigenous strategy at Cormorant Utility Services. High Frequency Rail is the largest transportation infrastructure project that Canada has seen in decades, and would be the biggest investment in Canadian passenger rail in a generation.

Steve Saddleback has been hired at the senior advisor for external affairs at the First Nations Major Projects Coalition. Saddleback is from Samson Cree Nation, where he has played an instrumental role in fostering economic growth and empowering Indigenous communities. He also a partner at Opimoyaso Group, a 100% owned Indigenous Firm.

Andrew Hall has joined Wildstone Construction Group‘s Whitehorse office as vice president of Yukon and business development. Hall said he will be focusing on growing Wildstone’s business in the energy, renewables and infrastructure markets.

Clarissa Wong is starting a new role as Graham‘s vice president of finance (industrial) and financial services. Wong is a financial professional with global accounting, finance and leadership experience including financial planning and analysis, reporting and forecasting, controllership, internal controls and audits, merger integrations, public filings, system conversions, implementation and integration of shared services teams.

Joe Williams is retiring from Lafarge Canada after 47 years of service. Williams is a millwright worker at Lafarge’s Bath Cement Plant. Williams said he’ll definitely miss daily interactions with colleagues from various teams and the tight-knit community at the plant. Lafarge officials stated that his commitment to teamwork and troubleshooting has significantly impacted its operations.

Joe Williams stands in front of the Bath Cement Plant in Loyalist, Ont. – Lafarge Canada

Nigel Shrive, PhD,  a professor emeritus at the Schulich School of Engineering, member and former head of the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health, was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada for groundbreaking contributions to structural mechanics, notably his translational and multidisciplinary research in both biomedical and civil engineering.

Sean Strickland has been elected chairman of BuildForce Canada‘s board of directors. Strickland says he looks forward to continuing his work with his colleagues on the board to advance the organization’s strategic priorities and to ensure BuildForce Canada continues to support the construction industry with up-to-date labour market data, development, and training.

Ted Davis has been appointed CEO of Avison Young’s Canadian operations. The company stated that since joining the firm in 2010, Davis has been instrumental in bringing teams together to create value for clients in his market, and they are excited to see him do this at the national level.

Dan Baxter is joining the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada as its new regional director for B.C. Baxter has served as president and CEO of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, as well as policy analyst, director, and interim CEO at the B.C. Chamber of Commerce. 

Dan Chyzowski has been promoted to vice president of construction at ETRO. Company officials stated that Chyzowski has been instrumental in building ETRO into what it is today. The added that he’s a natural leader with an innate talent for project management in a truly collaborative manner and has been a fantastic mentor to many.

ETRO Construction’s team celebrates reaching 100 employees in seven years in business. – ETRO Construction

Eduards Miska has been tapped by Aecom to be its director of engineering for B.C. Miska spent 30 years at B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation, eventually serving as its acting assistant deputy minister. He has held leadership and support roles with the Transportation Association of Canada, Intelligent Transportation Systems Canada, and the Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineers.

Amir Abd El-Halim has joined WSP’s Canadian leadership team as the new regional leader for Ontario and the Atlantic. WSP stated that El-Halim will use his 20+ years of industry experience to provide invaluable leadership to its teams in those regions.​

Sean Smithson has joined Pomerleau‘s Toronto team as the new regional vice president. Smithson previously spent 11 years with Modern Niagara, reaching the role of executive vice president for the GTA and Southwestern Ontario region.

With the Toronto team, I’ll be continuing my adventure in the construction industry, in a market where the possibilities are endless. I am looking forward to working with my new colleagues, to shape the future of the GTA Region building the infrastructure our growing region needs! Let’s do this! 

– Smithson

Paul Halliday is taking over the role CEO at NorLand Limited as Dave Reynolds enters retirement. Officials noted that Reynolds played a pivotal role in driving the company’s unprecedented growth and establishing a shared purpose and corporate vision.

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Axiom Builders

The first tower crane is up and ready to go at Neighbourhood Two by SHAPE as part of the The Amazing Brentwood development in Burnaby. Two tower cranes that will be erected for this phase. The crane currently standing at 180 feet but it will eventually reach 740 feet as the tower is built.  New Firmus, Rapicon West and Mammoet assisted with the crane erection.

Erik Millette

Ontario crane operator Erik Millette shows his view from high above Toronto.

SkilledTradesBC / Construction Foundation of B.C.

Youngsters learn to measure twice and cut once at the Discover Trades Summer Camp for Young Women in North Vancouver, B.C. The free camp was led by Red Seal Electrician Lisa Scott. Participants used various tools to create beautiful copper bracelets, aluminum bowls, extension cords, corn hole boards and more.

Lafarge Canada

Crews oversee a pour for the Ottawa Midtown Rapid Bridge Replacement Project. The team utilized a time-sensitive concrete solution from BMQ.  

British Columbia Institute of Technology / Derek Klassen

Carpentry Instructor Derek Klassen takes a selfie with Carpentry Foundation students as they celebrate the completion of their final project, a suspended slab framework.

Graham Construction

Graham’s crew complete a complex concrete pour for the structural slab of a new wastewater equalization tank in Gimli, Man. The pour took several weeks of planning as well as collaboration with the project owner, design team, trade partners, suppliers and Graham’s in-house forces.


Despite the name, Ledcor crews were treated to some clear skies this month in Rainy River, Ont. The team is busy constructing stages 4 and 5 tailings dam raises at a mine site.

Fort Modular

Fort Modular crews treated a statute to a fresh new look while supporting 150 West Georgia, a 17-storey office tower at B.C. place in downtown Vancouver.


Crews are making progress on Calgary’s RISE at Point Trotter project. The project team is on track to deliver the first of two state-of-the-art industrial buildings by the end of the month.

True North Scaffold & Insulation / Mathias Jonsson


 Sunny skies, still water and scaffolding – what more could you ask for? True North Scaffold & Insulation have completed scaffolding for a bridge-widening project in Fort Fraser, B.C.

Syncra Construction

Workers dismantle a crane at The Fifteen,  a four-storey mixed-use concrete development in Vancouver’s Dunbar neighborhood by Wave Developments.

Pitt Meadows Plumbing and Mechanical Systems / Take Off Photography

Crews lift district energy system components into place at the Gilmore Place development in Burnaby, B.C.


A drone captured the early stages of Shindico‘s work on Winnipeg’s Water Tower District. The 165-acre mixed-use development includes multi-family housing, retail, office, parklands and industrial.


The Site C Dam near Fort St. John B.C. is nearing the finish line. Aecon showed off some of the recent construction progress.

Norland Limited

A behemoth excavator reaches deep on a site in Vancouver.

The Shot of the Month goes to:


This 80 metre clearspan timber footbridge in Banff has been shortlisted in the Project & Technology awards from the IABSE – International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering – Pedestrian and Cycle Bridges division. The project team designed an extremely shallow, pure arch using stepped Glulam girders and weathering steel haunches. The bridge was prefabricated and assembled into two sections, placed simultaneously.

Madrid, Spain: home of singer-songwriter Enrique Iglesias, paella and La Lloreria, otherwise known as “The Crying Room”.

In 2021, La Lloreria was a project that aimed to remove stigma around mental issues in the country. It was a pink-hued warm room, an open space that anyone could weep into.

That same year I was working as a property manager in Vancouver. A colleague and I would often joke that our office needed a designated Crying Room because there weren’t enough papers floating around to wipe our tears with. If we knew about La Lloreria then, I would have booked us one-way flights. 

Could Canada adopt Spain’s idea of “The Crying Room” into our own real estate developments? If not literally, at least in any figurative sense? Is it possible to construct a “Mental Health Conscious” building?

Density (of the brain)

Living in a city can have its shares of pros and cons on mental health. While there is generally better access to health care and amenities, research also shows that the risk of mental illness is higher in cities than it is in rural areas. 

In April 2023, the City of Vancouver proposed an increase in density bonus rates in popular areas such as the Cambie Corridor, False Creek and Mount Pleasant. So if more people are moving here, then why is it still so impossible to make new friends as an adult? 

Developers seem to be attempting to answer this call by designing more inclusive community-oriented spaces such as rooftop communal gardens, lounges and commercial spaces for people to come together and connect. Will it be enough to save our mental health? I guess we’ll have to wait for the 2060 study on millennials and loneliness to find out.

Noise and the city

If I had a dime for every noise complaint I received from residents during my tenure as a Property Manager, I’d have like, $50. According to a podcast that I listened to recently (probably at too high of a volume), the average level of car noise in a city is the equivalent of having your TV on at high volume… all the time. But with all the city noise, municipal noise bylaws and soundproofing building processes, are we actually hearing each other? 

My husband and I recently moved to a condo in Port Moody. When we moved in, we complied with all strata bylaws and never did any unpacking before 9am or after 9pm. Still, we were greeted by a wonderful card from the neighbours below asking us to “kindly stop digging our heels in” and advised that “this is a nice community and if we wanted to be a part of that, we should be mindful of our noise”.  What a difference it could have made in welcoming us if we were greeted with compassion and understanding rather than assumptions and accusations. If they just knocked on our door, introduced themselves and talked to us, we would have actually listened. 

There have to be better places to cry than inside a portable toilet

A 2020 study once found that every year more construction workers die from suicide than every other workplace-related fatality, combined. That needs to change, now. We cannot continue to allow real estate development to be subsidized on the backs of the labourers that makes it all possible. As a predominantly male industry, construction is even more vulnerable to the antiquated ideas, thoughts and opinions on mental health care. 

It is every real estate development professional’s responsibility to help fight the stigma and increase the availability and accessibility of mental health resources for their teams. Our communities are counting on it.

So no, I can’t imagine we’ll be seeing “The Crying Room” as a featured amenity in a pre-sale marketing brochure anytime soon. But what I can imagine is a world where, little by little, brick by brick, the real estate development industry can tear down the walls of stigma and make it ok to not be okay. Mental health awareness can’t increase the cost per sq.ft. that much, can it? 

Key Takeaways:

  • The plan calls for creating a separate, spinoff business that focuses on pipelines.
  • TC Energy will focus on natural gas infrastructure and expand its power and energy solutions business.
  • The deal expected to be finalized on a tax-free basis during the latter half of 2024, after shareholder and court approvals.

The Whole Story:

TC Energy plans to separate into two distinct, publicly listed companies, both investment-grade entities, through the spinoff of TC Energy’s liquids pipelines business. This decision follows a two-year strategic review and is expected to be finalized on a tax-free basis during the latter half of 2024.

The company explained that the primary objective of the strategic spinoff is to unlock shareholder value and enable each newly-formed company to focus on its growth objectives while maintaining disciplined capital allocation, efficiency enhancement and operational excellence. TC Energy stated that by becoming independent entities, these new firms will be better equipped to pursue specific opportunities, ultimately benefiting their shareholders, customers, and the communities they serve.

Following the completion of the spinoff, TC Energy will emerge as a diversified, natural gas and energy solutions company. The new entity will be uniquely positioned to address the increasing demand for reliable, lower-carbon energy by leveraging its complementary business sets.

On the other hand, the liquids pipelines company will be established as a critical infrastructure entity with strategically positioned assets that connect supply routes to high-demand markets. The company aims to drive incremental growth and value creation opportunities in this space.

“This transformative announcement sets us up to deliver superior shareholder value for the next decade and beyond,” said François Poirier, president and CEO of TC Energy. “Fundamentals have always driven our strategic direction, and as a result, we have grown into a premier energy company with incumbency across a wide range of energy infrastructure platforms. As we have become the partner of choice for a magnitude of accretive, high-quality opportunities, we have determined that as two separate companies we can better execute on these distinct opportunity sets to unlock shareholder value.”

He emphasized that the decision was grounded in fundamental considerations and that the separation into two companies would enable them to execute distinct opportunity sets more effectively, thereby maximizing shareholder value.

Upon the completion of the spinoff, TC Energy will focus on natural gas infrastructure, backed by strong, long-term fundamentals. The company will also expand its power and energy solutions business, including nuclear, pumped hydro energy storage, and other emerging energy opportunities. TC Energy, with its extensive energy infrastructure network spanning over 93,700 km (58,200 miles), is expected to deliver about 30% of total natural gas supply for LNG export from the U.S. Additionally, it will play a pivotal role in providing Canada’s first direct connection to LNG markets through the Coastal GasLink project.

Poirier further emphasized TC Energy’s commitment to a strong balance sheet and the continuation of its efforts to achieve deleveraging goals, reinforcing the company’s focus on delivering sustainable value to shareholders.

The liquids pipelines company, as an independent entity, will be led by Bevin Wirzba, who will serve as president and CEO. This entity will operate a crude oil pipeline infrastructure covering 4,900 km (3,045 miles) and will supply crude to over 14 Mbbl/d of refining and export capacity, transporting 16% of crude exported from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (WCSB).

TC Energy intends to capitalize the liquids pipelines company in a manner that aligns with its business model and growth plans, ensuring the new entity maintains its investment-grade credit ratings.

The proposed Transaction is expected to be tax-free for TC Energy’s Canadian and U.S. shareholders. The company plans to seek shareholder approval for the spinoff in mid-2024. In addition to shareholder and court approvals, the transaction is subject to receiving favourable tax rulings from Canadian and U.S. tax authorities and meeting other customary closing conditions. The completion of the transaction is anticipated in the second half of 2024.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Ontario announced it will spend $5.4 million to build and deploy three cutting-edge mobile tech classrooms.
  • The units will include hands-on stations and simulators the help young people experience welding , crane operation, electrical work and other trades.
  • The first Trades & Tech Truck was rolled out last year and reached around 40,000 people. The new trucks are expected to reach nearly 500,000.

The Whole Story:

Trades training is hitting the road in Ontario.

In a move to address the province’s labor shortage in the skilled trades sector, Ontario announced it will spend $5.4 million to build and deploy three cutting-edge mobile tech classrooms. These innovative classrooms, a collaborative effort with Skills Ontario, will traverse the province, imparting essential knowledge and practical skills to students and young individuals interested in pursuing careers in the skilled trades.

The mobile classrooms, named Trades & Tech Trucks, promise an immersive learning experience through hands-on stations and simulators, offering training opportunities in a diverse range of disciplines, including:

  • Electrical systems
  • Welding
  • Crane operation
  • Auto-painting
  • Tire and brake work
  • Heavy machinery

“By 2025, one in five jobs in Ontario will be in the skilled trades,” said Monte McNaughton, minister of labour. “These are rewarding, well-paying careers that you can build a family and a life around. That’s why our government will continue to invest in cutting-edge programs that give students the chance to experience the 144 trades and life-changing opportunities available to them.”

Experience a virtual tour of a Tech & Trades Truck. – Skilled Trades Ontario

The province is relying on tradespeople to help with its ambitious infrastructure plans that include constructing 1.5 million homes by 2031. To meet this goal, Ontario will require over 100,000 new skilled trades workers within the decade. The Trades & Tech Trucks, each measuring 12 meters in length, will serve as platforms for students to explore the skilled trades while engaging with industry professionals, discovering local training opportunities, colleges, and potential employers.

Ian Howcroft, CEO of Skills Ontario, spoke about the impact of their existing mobile classroom program, saying: “Since rolling out our first Trades & Tech truck last year, our mobile classroom has provided thousands of students with hands-on learning experiences. This program ignites an awareness of opportunities in the skilled trades and tech field that inspires more young people to pursue these careers. We want to thank and recognize Minister McNaughton and Premier Ford for the leadership and investments they have provided to build the skilled workforce of tomorrow.”

The efforts by the Ontario government have already shown promising results, with a 24 percent surge in apprenticeship registrations in the past year alone. This increase, which includes a 28 percent jump among women, is attributed to the government’s significant investment of over $1 billion in the skilled trades sector over three years and the establishment of the dedicated agency, Skilled Trades Ontario.

On the education side, the province intends to go even further. Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, announced plans to make technology education courses mandatory for all high school students starting September 2024. The new mobile tech classrooms will further complement this initiative by supporting 150,000 students annually, equipping them with the critical skills needed to secure well-paying jobs and thrive in the competitive job market.

The Trades & Tech Truck program was launched as a pilot in 2022. It reached over 40,000 students and young people across more than 50 events throughout the province, from Toronto to Ottawa and Thunder Bay.

Funded through the government’s Skills Development Fund, the new mobile classrooms are set to be fully operational by the summer of 2024, welcoming an annual footfall of 150,000 visitors.

There is no green energy transition without doing some digging. 

As the backbone of the green and digital economy, minerals are essential for technologies like batteries, electric cars, wind turbines and solar panels. Building resilient critical minerals value chains with high ESG standards is vital for global sustainability, and Canada aims to lead the way.

According to the federal government, Canada is home to almost half of the world’s publicly listed mining companies and has a market capitalization of $520 billion.

To seize these opportunities, Ottawa recently released the Critical Minerals Strategy backed by a $4-billion budget. The comprehensive strategy not only promises economic growth and job creation but also seeks to strengthen Indigenous reconciliation efforts and foster collaboration with allies. 

Of Canada’s 31 critical minerals, six are initially prioritized in the strategy for their distinct potential to spur Canadian economic growth and their necessity as inputs for priority supply chains. These six minerals are lithium, graphite, nickel, cobalt, copper, and rare earth elements.

Here’s a list of mining companies that are searching for these minerals and others.

Teck Resources

Teck is Canada’s largest diversified mining company. – Teck Resources

If you are driving around in an electric car, it’s likely thanks to Teck Resources. The century-old, diversified natural resources company headquartered in Vancouver is engaged in mining and mineral development, including coal for the steelmaking, copper, zinc, and energy. Their products are critical for making solar panels and electric vehicles. They are also on a mission be carbon-neutral by 2050 and in the last decade, they have reduced GHG emissions by more than 411,000 tonnes. Their name comes from Teck Township in Kirkland Lake, Ont. where the company developed a gold mine. The mine produced gold until 1968. In addition to Canada and the U.S., Teck has major operations in Chile and Peru.


Nutrien is the largest phosphate producer in North America. – Nutrien

Nutrien is all about putting food on the table. Formed in 2018 from merger between PotashCorp and Agrium, they are the world’s largest provider of crop inputs and services, playing a critical role in helping growers sustainably increase food production. They produce and distribute over 27 million tonnes of potash, nitrogen and phosphate products for agricultural, industrial and feed customers world-wide. A major focus of theirs in recent years has been shifting to automated and tele-remote mining and other digital technologies to safety performance, lower production costs, increase production and reduce emissions.

Barrick Gold

Crews survey mining operations in Nevada. – Barrick Gold

Toronto-based Barrick Gold owns six tier one gold assets, the most in the world. They also have been building a strategic copper portfolio to support the transition to clean technology. Their CEO, Mark Bristow, recently said that he believes that mining is the “flywheel of development” and mining companies will be critical for reaching the world’s sustainability goals. The group’s current key focus areas are: using its purchasing power to drive down emissions from suppliers; developing a tool to measure its contribution to the conservation and regeneration of biodiversity; continuing to provide ESG raters with the latest sustainability-related information; and progressing the environmental and social studies at the giant Reko Diq project in Balochistan, Pakistan.

First Quantum Minerals

The Botswana United Nations Development Programme visit’s Quantum’s Kansanshi mine in Zambia. – First Quantum Minerals

With likely the coolest name on this list, First Quantum Minerals is a Canadian-based mining and metals company whose main activities include mineral exploration, development and mining. Its primary product is copper, which accounts for 80% of revenues. Their team produces copper in the form of concentrate, cathode and anode, and has inventories of nickel, gold and cobalt. They operate long life mines in several countries and employ approximately 20,000 people around the globe. Just this month, Quantum announced it has started production at the Enterprise mine in Zambia, which is set to become Africa’s biggest nickel mine. Nickel is a key component for electric vehicle batteries.

Agnico Eagle Mines

Agnico’s team celebrates the company’s 60th anniversary. – Agnico Eagle

Toronto-based Agnico Eagle Mines has a legacy that traces back to 1957. It has operations in Canada, Finland, Australia and Mexico and exploration and development activities extending to the United States. The company’s flagship LaRonde mine, located in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region 62 kilometres west of Val-d’Or in Quebec, has produced 6.6 million ounces of gold since 1988 and remains a consistent engine of earnings and cash flow for the company.

Pan American Silver Corp.

2023 has been a big year for Pan American. The Vancouver-based mining company has operations in Ontario, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. Earlier this year, they completed a massive deal added four Yamana Gold mines to its assets: the Jacobina mining complex in Brazil, the El Peñón and Minera Florida mines in Chile, and the Cerro Moro mine in Argentina. The multi-billion-dollar deal also required Yamana to sell its share of the Canadian Malartic mine to Agnico Eagle Mines.

Lundin Mining

Lundin recently acquired a majority interest in the Caserones Copper-Molybdenum Mine in Chile. – Lundin

Toronto-based Lundin Mining Corporation has a global presence. It owns and operates mines in Sweden, the United States, Chile, Portugal, and Brazil. These mines are focused on the extraction of essential base metals like copper, zinc, and nickel. The company’s headquarters are based in Toronto, and it was initially established by Adolf Lundin, later operated by Lukas Lundin. Originally, the company’s primary interest was in a diamond mine located in Brazil. However, it later underwent a restructuring phase and successfully raised funds to develop the Storliden mine in Sweden. Over time, Lundin Mining Corporation expanded its portfolio by acquiring significant assets.

Avalon Advanced Materials

Avalon Advanced Materials, formerly known as Avalon Rare Metals Inc., is a Canadian mineral development company based in Toronto. They have a unique focus on rare metals and minerals that play a crucial role in emerging technologies. Among their key assets are the Nechalacho Project located in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, the Separation Rapids near Minaki, Ont., the East Kemptville in Nova Scotia, Lilypad Cesium near Ignace, Ont., and the Warren Township in Ontario. Avalon recently Announced $63M strategic investment by Sibelco to create a vertically integrated lithium strategic partnership.

Hudbay Minerals

Hudbay’s team explores a mining site in Arizona. – Hudbay

Hudbay Minerals has a rich Canadian history spanning over 90 years. It has been a key player in mining copper concentrate, which includes valuable deposits of copper, gold, and silver. Flin Flon, Manitoba, has been a focal point of its operations for decades. Presently, Hudbay operates in both Manitoba and Peru. Additionally, the company is actively engaged in establishing a copper mine in the southern region of Arizona.

Key Takeaways:

  • Its Richmond plant now only produces ECOPlanet cement.
  • ECOPlanet cement emits no more than 400kg of CO2 per ton.
  • Standard Portland cements typically emit upwards of 900kg of CO2 per ton.

The Whole Story:

A Metro Vancouver cement plant just secured a major sustainability achievement. 

Lafarge Canada, a member of Holcim Group, announced its conversion to the production of 100% ECOPlanet cement at its Richmond Cement Plant. ECOPlanet, Holcim’s brand of low-carbon cement, offers a minimum 30% reduction in CO2 emissions per tonne in comparison to ordinary portland cement.

This accomplishment makes it the first cement plant within the Holcim Group worldwide to qualify 100% of its cement production as ECOPlanet.

“This is a proud moment for our organization,” said Brad Kohl, president & CEO of Lafarge Canada (West). “This conversion in Lafarge’s Western Canada division highlights our strong commitment to accelerating green growth. As leaders in sustainable building solutions, we take pride in having a positive impact on building solutions across its lifecycle without compromising the quality and long-term durability of our products.”

Lafarge officials noted that the Government of BC and CleanBC Industry Fund have been instrumental in facilitating decarbonization projects efficiently. Through the Innovation Accelerator Fund, the Richmond Plant received funding to assist with the addition of supplementary cementitious materials to cement and has been the key to decreasing the greenhouse gasses per tonne of cement produced on site.

“Globally, Holcim is a leader in sustainable building materials, and ECOPlanet is a great example of our innovative solutions,” said Toufic Tabbara, region jead of North America at Holcim. “By adopting low-carbon cement processing additions like at the Richmond plant, we continue to lower the embodied carbon in our building materials.”

According to Lafarge, the ECOPlanet range of low-carbon cement is designed to meet the most stringent performance specifications while upholding the highest standards of sustainability. With compliance with all industry standards, this cement is suitable for various applications regardless of performance requirements.

ECOPlanet cement isn’t the only environmental moves Lafarge is making at the plant. This May, officials announced a tri-party agreement with Svante Technologies Inc., and Dimensional Energy, Inc to bring a demonstration of Dimensional Energy’s carbon dioxide utilization technology to the facility.

Key Takeaways:

  • The 12-storey structure will add more health capacity for the region, including 469 single patient bedrooms.
  • EDIH (EllisDon Infrastructure Healthcare) secured the $3.6-billion contract to design, build, finance, and maintain the hospital.
  • Work is expected to wrap up in 2028.

The Whole Story:

Crews have broken ground on 1.3-million-square-foot South Niagara Hospital in Ontario. 

“Today’s groundbreaking event for the new South Niagara hospital brings us one step closer to connecting the people of the growing Niagara region to more convenient care close to home for generations to come,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Right across the province, we’re investing nearly $50 billion over the next 10 years to support more than 50 major hospital projects. When it comes to your health, we’re building a healthcare system that all Ontarians deserve.”

The South Niagara hospital, strategically located at the intersection of Montrose and Biggar roads, is poised to bolster regional healthcare capacity. Its design aims to meet the burgeoning demands of Niagara’s aging population, encompassing centers of excellence dedicated to complex care, aging wellness, and stroke care.

Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Sylvia Jones called it a “historic milestone” for the residents of the Niagara Region.

Excavators turn dirt at the site of the South Niagara Hospital. – Niagara Health

Lynn Guerriero, president and CEO of Niagara Health had this to say: “Niagara residents have been planning, wishing, and waiting for this hospital for more than 10 years. I am thrilled that today we have officially broken ground on this exciting new facility. The hard work, planning, fundraising, and dedication from our teams and the community is making this dream a reality. We are one step closer to building a state-of-the-art hospital that will transform how we deliver healthcare in the region and allow Niagara residents to get the care they need right in our own community.”

The 12-storey structure will add more health capacity for the region, including 469 single patient bedrooms, eight operating suites, 42 hemodialysis stations, and two MRI machines. Its services will span emergency, critical care, diagnostic, therapeutic, and surgical domains.

The South Niagara hospital aspires to become the first WELL-certified hospital in Canada, with design features prioritizing the health and well-being of hospital users, including staff and physicians. This approach aims to create a more positive workplace environment. 

Additionally, the hospital will feature an Indigenous healing space and garden, designed with input from Indigenous partners to foster culturally safe and welcoming areas for Indigenous Peoples.

EDIH (EllisDon Infrastructure Healthcare) secured the $3.6-billion contract for designing, building, financing, and maintaining the hospital back in February. Teams have been collaborating with Niagara Health staff, physicians, and patient and community partners to ensure the hospital design addresses the complex requirements of this state-of-the-art healthcare facility. 

The project team has chosen to prioritize the engagement of local sub-contractors and workers to bolster the local economy, generating multi-year economic benefits and fostering employment and community growth in the Niagara region. EDIH has already been awarding early sub-contracts to local entities and labor unions.

Decew Construction (Rankin Construction) has commenced site work, preparing for the installation of the construction trailer complex, which is expected to be completed in the coming weeks. Excavation is scheduled to commence by the end of the summer, and the entire construction process is estimated to take five years, with the hospital slated to officially open its doors in the summer of 2028.

Key Takeaways:

  • Officials heard feedback from 1,450 people regarding the international credential-recognition process.
  • Respondents said they want a faster, simpler and more accommodating process to recognized foreign skilled workers who want to work in Canada.
  • Feedback gathered from the public engagement will be used to help make adjustments to the program.

The Whole Story:

Stakeholders in B.C. want an easier process and more supports for international tradespeople to get their credentials recognized.

The province released the results of a survey of more than 1,450 people who gave feedback on the international credential-recognition process.

Feedback from the province’s engagement is available online and will be used to inform future legislation to improve credential recognition for newcomers to B.C.

In spring 2023, the province asked internationally trained professionals, educational institutions, immigrant-serving organizations, business associations, health-care associations, regulatory authorities and members of the public for their feedback about international credential recognition through a series of roundtables and an online survey.

“We’ve heard from regulators, post-secondary institutions and internationally trained professionals that the system isn’t working,” said Andrew Mercier, minister of state for Workforce Development. “This is a question of fairness and about making sure that internationally trained professionals have the support they need to succeed and practice in B.C.”

More than 1,450 British Columbians participated in this public engagement through roundtables and an online survey about how to improve the credential recognition process and remove unnecessary barriers for newcomers to Canada.

“Mosaic would like to express its appreciation to the Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills and the Minister of State for Workforce Development Andrew Mercier and his team for taking the time to hear directly from the many immigrant professionals we work with, whose direct experience with the barriers to credential recognition will inform improvements to these processes,” said David Lee, director of employment at Mosaic, an immigrant-serving organization. “We look forward to how we can support newcomers to B.C. in connecting to employment in a way that takes full advantage of their skills and experience.”

The report identified eight themes for improvement:

  • improving the accessibility, consistency and transparency of information about the licensure process and requirements;
  • streamlining complex processes and shortening timelines;
  • exploring alternative pathways for credential recognition;
  • exploring more flexible approaches to demonstrate language proficiency;
  • introducing performance standards for data and reporting;
  • increasing financial and other supports for internationally trained professionals and regulatory authorities;
  • improving co-ordination between government and regulatory authorities at the provincial and federal levels; and
  • strengthening collaboration between regulatory authorities, educational institutions, employers and immigrant-serving organizations to support licensure and integration.

Feedback gathered from the public engagement will be used to help streamline the international credential-recognition process and work toward new legislation.

Key Takeaways:

  • The RFP is expected to launch in September.
  • The project would connect Toronto, Peterborough, Ottawa, Montréal, Trois-Rivières and Québec City with electrified and dedicated tracks that extend over 1,000 km.
  • The procurement process is being overseen by a fairness monitor.

The Whole Story:

The Government of Canada has announced the next stage of its High Frequency Rail project, the country’s largest infrastructure project.

Following the the launch of the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) in February, officials have invited following groups to move to the Request for Proposals (RFP) stage:

  • Cadence (CDPQ Infra, SNC-Lavalin, Systra Canada, Keolis Canada)
  • Intercity Rail Developers (Intercity Development Partners, EllisDon Capital, Kilmer Transportation, First Rail Holdings, Jacobs, Hatch, CIMA+, First Group, RATP Dev Canada, Renfe Operadora)
  • QConnexiON Rail Partners (Fengate, John Laing, Bechtel, WSP Canada, Deutsche Bahn) 

The project aims to connect Toronto, Peterborough, Ottawa, Montréal, Trois-Rivières and Québec City with electrified and dedicated tracks that extend over 1,000 km. Travelling speeds could eventually reach 200 km per hour.

Once the RFP launches this September, participants will be asked to present their proposal, including a technically and commercially feasible solution, a business plan and a management plan for the co-development, construction, and operations phases of the project. Officials say that this approach will incentivize respondents to identify and prioritize the benefits to Canadians in their proposals, while also providing them with the flexibility to take innovative approaches to meet or exceed the desired project outcomes.

Budget 2022 provided Transport Canada and Infrastructure Canada with close to $400 million over two years, starting in 2022-23, to continue advancing key project activities and undertake the procurement phase of the project.

The entire procurement process is being overseen by a fairness monitor. This fairness monitor is an independent consultant that acts as an objective, third-party observer, who monitors the procurement process and ensures that it is conducted in a fair manner.

Advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples is a priority for Ottawa, and officials stated that this is why early engagement with Indigenous communities is already underway. As part of the RFQ process, respondents were required to demonstrate their capacity to work with the government to create mutually beneficial, socio-economic development opportunities for Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous reconciliation is critical to the success of the HFR project and will be integrated in all phases of the project.

National security and related risks will also be assessed throughout the project, along with measures to address such risks. Selection of the chosen private developer partner will depend on several conditions, including national security.

High Frequency Rail is expected to change how Canadians travel in southern Ontario and Québec.

“I am thrilled that High Frequency Rail — the largest infrastructure project —is advancing to the next stage of the procurement process,” said Omar Alghabra, minister of transport. “This exciting initiative will require strong collaboration between Transport Canada, VIA HFR, and the selected private developer partner to create a sustainable foundation for the design and development of the project. I look forward to the next phase of this project.”

Currently, passenger rail service represents only 2% of all trips in the region; cars account for 94%. 

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Canadian investment and advisory firm Hillcore continues to make major moves in the construction space this year.

Just weeks after purchasing Alberta-based Thompson Construction Group, Hillcore announced it has acquired Ruskin Construction Ltd.

Founded in 1989, Ruskin Construction has worked for 34 years with construction service clients across North America. Ruskin specializes in temporary resource bridges, as well as permanent and highway structures, a variety of foundation options, marine construction, railway refurbishment, aerial pipeline installation and heavy civil construction.

Ruskin currently employs over 250 professionals and provides construction services to the oil and gas, forestry, transportation, and mining industries. They have locations in Delta, Prince George, and Mill Bay, B.C., as well as in Grande Prairie, Alberta.

Ruskin currently has partnerships with several First Nations in Northern BC, including the Haisla Nation, Saulteau, and Tsimshian Nations.

Hillcore invests predominantly in the life sciences, real estate, seniors living, financial, industrial, logistics, forestry, and energy sectors. they have offices in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary. Through its various groups and portfolio companies, they employ more than 5,000 people throughout Canada. The firm says that entities under its management have an asset value in excess of $5 billion.

The future looks bright for Canadian solar projects.

Just this month, federal officials announced $160-million in funding for Alberta solar projects. Zooming out, Canada’s federal government has outlined a six-year investment tax credit that puts a 30% tax credit in place for solar, wind and energy storage projects deployed through March 2034.

On the ground, this means remote Indigenous communities and power plants can transition off fossil fuels, businesses can make their operations more green and the nation can expand its power capacity without further contributing to the global climate crisis.

Here are some projects that highlighting what the power of the sun can do.

Travers Solar

Let’s start the list off with a bang. The massive Travers Solar Project began development in 2017 and it started operations late last year. It includes approximately 1.3 million bifacial solar PV modules on 3,330 acres of land in Alberta’s Vulcan County. It was funded by Greengate Power Corporation and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP). CIP sold all of its stake in the project to Axium Infrastructure in Canada earlier this year for an undisclosed sum. According to the project’s builder, PCL, Travers Solar incorporates a tracking system with steel helical piles that rotate the solar panels to follow the sun’s path as the day progresses from dawn to dusk.

Mytilineos projects 

This one comes as a bundle. Greek industrial and power company Mytilineos Energy and Metals recently announced plans to embark on a $1.7-billion project to build five solar energy plants throughout central and southern Alberta. The company stated that the province is easily Canada’s leader in solar energy. Mytilineos says its plants will generate 2.1 terawatt-hours (TWh) per year of renewable energy, enough to power 200,000 Canadian homes for a year. The plants are Georgetown, in Vulcan County; Sunnynook, in Special Area No. 2; Dolcy, in the Municipal District of Wainwright; Eastervale, in the Municipal District of Provost; and Red Willow, in Stettler County No. 6.

Lathom Solar 

Lathom Solar (the Project) began development in 2017 and includes close to 1,000 acres of land located approximately 15 kilometres southeast of the Town of Bassano, in the County of Newell. The project will be 120 megawatts (MWac) in size. In 2021, Amazon announced they have entered into a long-term power purchase agreement for 80 MW of capacity from the site. According to the project’s owner, Greengate, construction could begin sometime this year. The estimated project cost is $170 million.

ACFN-Concord Solar Partnership

Officials celebrate the opening of solar energy projects in Southern Alberta. – Green Planet Energy Analytics

The Coaldale, Monarch and Vulcan solar farms in Southern Alberta went into service last year after receiving traditional Indigenous blessings and a ceremony. The projects are part of a $145-million partnership between Concord Pacific and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN). The projects are expected to deliver 150-gigawatt hours (GWh) a year to the Alberta power grid and capture about 26 GWh of electricity annually once the 2023 battery storage component has completed construction.

Nunavut projects

Solar panels line a building in Grise Ford, Canada’s most northern community. – Government of Canada.

Communities and projects in Nunavut (Arctic Bay, Clyde River, Pond Inlet, Whale Cove, Grise Fiord Solar) are splitting more than $4 million funding that will go towards solar infrastructure. The funds flow from the Northern REACHE program which aims to support Indigenous communities in their transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies.

kīsikāw pīsim solar farm

Last fall, the kīsikāw pīsim solar farm went into operation – generating renewable electricity to help power the E. L. Smith Water Treatment Plant. The solar farm will provide up to half the energy required by the plant, which supplies 65 per cent of the water required by Edmonton and surrounding communities. With 30,350 solar panels capturing energy from the sun, the solar farm will generate enough power to cut greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 14,000 tonnes every year. A key element of the project is the Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) connected to the solar farm. The more than 1,000 batteries are arranged in two separate sea-can style containers to store energy for later use.

 Fox Coulée

The Fox Coulée solar project team break ground in Alberta. – Goldbeck

This June, French renewable energy producer Neoen started construction on a 93 MW solar power plant in Starland county, Alta. The company awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the $130-million Fox Coulée plant project to Germany’s Goldbeck Solar. Once complete, it will connect to the 24.5 kV distribution network operated by local utility ATCO Electric. Work is expected to wrap up next year.

Sunnynook solar

Construction on Sunnynook Solar Energy’s Sunnynook solar plus storage project is expected to start this year after getting the green light from provincial officials in Alberta. It will have a battery energy storage system (BESS) of 200 megawatt-hours. The solar plus storage project in Southern Alberta is expected to generate enough clean energy to power 45,000 households.

Saddlebrook Solar

TC Energy’s first foray into solar power will soon have shovels in the ground. The energy company announced that it will begin pre-construction activities on the $146-million Saddlebrook Solar Project located near Aldersyde, Alta. It has the capacity to generate 81 megawatts, enough energy to power 20,000 homes annually. The initial construction includes installing solar panels on TC Energy property in the local industrial park.

Loyala Residence

Loyala Residence – St. Mary’s University

Solar technology isn’t just for the open plains. Work is underway in Halifax to create the tallest solar-sided building in all of North America. The work is being done as part of a retrofit on the side of the Loyola residence building at St. Mary’s University. After inspecting the 30-year building’s concrete façade, engineers decided it need to be replaced and the school took the opportunity to include some sustainable components.

Edmonton Expo Centre

Edmonton Expo Centre – Delnor Construction

Last fall, crews began work on the largest rooftop solar array in Canada. Phase one of the Edmonton Expo Centre upgrades includes the installation of 5,754 solar panels across 193,735.5 square feet above Hall D through H. The electricity generated is expected to equal the power consumed by 375 residential homes. The city believes the energy generated will yield operational savings of $290,000 to $460,000 per year. The project was built by Delnor Construction in one of the city’s first ever IPD contracts.

Key Takeaways:

  • The parties announced that a deal was in sight after 13 days of striking, but it was voted down.
  • Federal officials stated that they believe the strike is not legal and are exploring all options to end it.
  • The union explained that they voted the deal down as they felt it would not protect their jobs now or into the future.

The Whole Story:

*Editors Note: This story has been updated as of 8 a.m., July 20, 2023 as the union’s strike notice has been rescinded.

Federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan Jr. and Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra say they are “looking at all options” and to resolve a reignited port strike on Canada’s west coast.

Just when it seemed that a deal was in sight, collective bargaining negotiations between the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Canada collapsed. 

“Last week, after 13 days of work stoppage, Minister O’Regan asked federal mediators to provide recommendations on the terms of a settlement between the BCMEA and the ILWU Canada,” said government officials in a statement. “Both parties tentatively agreed to this settlement to bring an end to the strike.”

Ottawa received formal notice from the BCMEA that their membership had accepted this deal in full. However, they were also informed that, despite initially agreeing to recommend the Terms of Settlement, the ILWU Canada’s leadership had decided not to recommend ratification of the terms to their members.

The ministers stated that workers and employers across Canada cannot face further disruption and they are looking at all options. They added that there would be further announcements this week. 

“We should not be here,” said the ministers. “The deal presented to the parties was the result of a constructive and substantive collective bargaining process. It represented a fair and balanced deal. It was informed by weeks of collective bargaining and drafted by third-party mediators in the interest of both the union and the employer. We have been patient. We have respected the collective bargaining process. But we need our ports operating.”

O’Regan Jr. also noted that the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) – an independent body created to keep industrial peace – ruled that the ILWU Canada cease and desist from participating in any strike action because the union did not provide 72 hours notice.

The ILWU Canada Longshore Caucus explained that it voted down the mediators Recommended Terms of Settlement because it does not believe the recommendations had the ability to protect their jobs now or into the future.

“Our position since day one has been to protect our jurisdiction and this position has not changed,” said the group. “With the record profits that the BCMEA’s member companies have earned over the last few years the employers have not addressed the cost of living issues that our workers have faced over the last couple of years as all workers have. The term of the collective agreement that was given with today’s uncertain times, is far too long. We must be able to readdress the uncertainty in the world’s financial markets for our members.”

Key Takeaways:

  • The funds will go towards Skills Canada’s competitions program.
  • Skills Canada has delivered the Skills Canada National Competition across Canada over the past 29 years in over 40 skilled trades and technologies.
  • Skills Canada’s efforts focus on youth and underrepresented groups including women, persons with disabilities, newcomers to Canada, individuals identifying as 2SLGBTQI+, Indigenous people and racialized individuals.

The Whole Story:

Let the games begin. 

The federal government will contribute more than $27 million over five years to Skills Canada under the Canadian Apprenticeship Strategy. The funding supports the organization’s efforts to engage youth in the skilled trades through competitions and career exploration.

“Young people want to help build Canada’s future,” said Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough. “With the nature of work changing fast, today’s investment will help young people develop the skills they need to take advantage of future career opportunities in the skilled trades.”

Skills Canada provides hands-on experience to youth and underrepresented groups including women, persons with disabilities, newcomers to Canada, individuals identifying as 2SLGBTQI+, Indigenous people and racialized individuals in the skilled trades and technology.

Skills Canada undertakes a number of promotional activities and events including Skills Canada provincial and territorial competitions, national competitions, WorldSkills competitions, and National Skilled Trades and Technology Week.

Each year, the Government of Canada invests nearly $1 billion in apprenticeship supports through grants, loans, tax credits, Employment Insurance benefits during in-school training, project funding and support for the Red Seal program. Further to providing supports in the skilled trades, the Government of Canada is helping to increase awareness, through an advertising campaign promoting the skilled trades as a first-choice career option for young people.

Skills Canada has delivered the Skills Canada National Competition across Canada over the past 29 years in over 40 skilled trades and technologies. The 2023 Skills Canada National Competition, in Winnipeg, drew over 500 competitors and over 13,000 visitors.

Artemis Gold is working on plans to resume normal construction operations at its Blackwater Mine after evacuating due to an uncontrolled B.C. wildfire.

As the fire approached, Artemis Gold took proactive measures to temporarily reduce the number of non-essential staff and contractors early last week and all company staff and contractors are safe and accounted for.

The company said that the Blackwater Mine site infrastructure remains intact, including the construction camp, process plant area, construction fleet and contractors’ fleets. Damage to property has been minimal.

“Safety is our top priority, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the proactive, organized approach our team took to reduce non-essential workers at our mine site days before the wildfire reached our site. Our second priority was securing the asset, and our emergency services teams implemented very effective protective measures across the site,” said Steven Dean, Artemis Gold Inc. chairman and CEO.

The company said it is now focused on plans to ramp back up to normal construction activities in the short term, subject to provincial regulation. Artemis Gold does not anticipate the incident will have a material impact on the Blackwater Mine construction schedule, and the Company continues to target first gold pour in H2 2024.

The project is located in centralB.C., approximately 160 km southwest of Prince George and 446 km northeast of Vancouver. It is accessible by major highway and access/service roads.

According to the B.C. Wildfire Service there have been 1192 fires so far this year. These fires have burned 13,900 square kilometres of land, breaking the record of just over 13,500 square kilometres set in 2018.

Key Takeaways:

  • To win the work, Ledcor created a limited partnership with construction and engineering firm Dragados Canada, under the name Bowmanville Construction Partners.
  • The project will extend the Lakeshore East GO Line nearly 20 kilometers to Bowmanville in Clarington, Ontario.
  • In the coming months, Ledcor and Dragados will support the design process, provide construction advice, identify risks as well as opportunities to streamline major civil works, obtain more accurate cost and schedule estimates, and more.

The Whole Story:

Ledcor’s Infrastructure team has been awarded a $1 billion to build the Bowmanville Extension transit project.

The project will extend the Lakeshore East GO Line nearly 20 kilometers to Bowmanville in Clarington, Ontario. With nearly 17,000 daily trips expected by 2041, the extension will connect more of Durham Region to fast two-way, all-day rail service. This project includes new track signal infrastructure, seven new bridges (including a new rail alignment over Highway 401), bridge reconstruction and existing bridge modifications, utility relocations and at-grade crossing upgrades.

The Bowmanville Extension is a complement to the larger GO Expansion program, which is transforming the GO rail network into a modern two-way all-day, rapid transit system.

Ledcor attributed the award of the contract to Ledcor’s trusted relationship with its repeat client, Metrolinx. Ledcor’s recent projects with Metrolinx include the Barrie Rail Corridor and Lakeshore Packages B/C transit project.

To deliver this extension, Ledcor created a limited partnership with construction and engineering firm Dragados Canada, under the name Bowmanville Construction Partners. 

“During a competitive bidding process, our combined expertise helped secure this contract, and reflects Ledcor’s position as a leader within the infrastructure industry,” said Ledcor in a press release. 

Now that Bowmanville Construction Partners (BCP) has been awarded the contract, the next step is the development phase. During this phase, BCP will support the design process, provide construction advice, identify risks as well as opportunities to streamline major civil works, obtain more accurate cost and schedule estimates, and more.

Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton doesn’t quite remember when he first got a taste of construction and the trades because he was probably too young to remember.

He grew up in a small, southwest Ontario town where his family owned and ran a hardware store for decades. 

“At a young age I was sweeping the floors, stocking shelves and loading trucks for contractors. And at a young age I saw families in our community make a damn good living in the trades,” said McNaughton. “Our family owned a home hardware store and I can’t remember what age I started loading drywall and two-by-fours. I really gained an insight into the trades and I had respect for the men and women in the trades.”

“It became clear on day one that it all had to do with stigma. We have spent years sending a message to parents, guidance counsellors, young people and others that careers in the skilled trades are meaningful and lucrative.”

Monte McNaughton – Ontario Minister of Labour

Decades later, McNaughton is now presiding over an unprecedented boom in apprenticeships in the province. This June, the province reported apprenticeship registrations have increased 24% in the last year – from 21,971 to 27,319. Officials stated that in order to help deliver Ontario’s infrastructure plans, including building 1.5 million homes by 2031, Ontario will need over 100,000 new skilled trades workers this decade.

The increase comes after years of challenges. According to Statistics Canada, the largest drop in recent memory happened in 2020. New apprenticeship registrations declined almost 29% across the country. In Ontario, they were down 37%.

How has McNaughton pulled off this burst in apprenticeship registration? The story goes back to 2019 when he was appointed minister of labour by premier Doug Ford. His first task was hitting the road with his ears open. 

“I met with apprentices, employers, union leaders, visited training centres, colleges and really got an understanding of the challenges with our apprenticeship system in Ontario,” he said. “It became clear on day one that it all had to do with stigma. We have spent years sending a message to parents, guidance counsellors, young people and others that careers in the skilled trades are meaningful and lucrative. These are careers you can build a family around and you can be damn proud of these careers.” 

These trips haven’t stopped. When he spoke with SiteNews, McNaughton was was on the road to meet with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Construction Council of Ontario.

Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton meets with workers to discuss issues with job site bathrooms – Monte McNaughton / Twitter

After conducting their research, McNaughton and his team devised a three pillar plan:

  • End trades stigma
  • Simplify the training system 
  • Encourage employers to take on apprentices

McNaughton noted that ending stigma has been one of the biggest focuses of his strategy. 

To attack some of the cultural attitudes directed towards the trades, McNaughton sought to take his message straight to young people. 

“Around stigma, we had to be clear in saying that we don’t need every young person going to university,” said McNaughton. “I have been critical of the government in the past when they told every young person that the only way to be successful was to go to university. In the trades you can start your own business, travel Canada – the possibilities are endless.” 

He explained that the education system has been built around sending every young person to university. He made it his mission to make sure all students were presented with the option of trying a career in the trades. 

“When I think of how we got to the point this year with the nearly 25% increase, it’s because we’ve promoted the skilled trades, and invested heavily making sure, starting in grade one, that every student is learning about the skilled trades,” he said.  

The ministry sent dozens of trades recruiters into every high school in the province to compete with university recruiters. And the conversation went both ways. 

“Before we rolled out our $1.5-billion skilled trades strategy, we had the ministry do research and we interviewed hundreds of millennials and did focus groups,” said McNaughton. “Unprompted and unscripted, they said they would rather work for less if they were safe at their job. This highlighted the importance of health and safety. We have invested more in health and safety in Ontario than at any point in its history. We’re hiring a lot of health and safety inspectors.”

The province also embarked on a widespread crackdown on job site bathrooms. In 2022 ministry inspectors visited 14,000 construction projects and issued nearly 2,000 orders to upgrade facilities. McNaughton also passed new laws that require better sanitation and  at least one women’s-only washroom where the size of the site warrants it. The legislature also requires women in construction and workers with diverse body types to be outfitted in properly fitting gear, including uniforms, boots and safety harnesses.

To simplify the apprenticeship process, McNaughton launched Skilled Trades Ontario, a new Crown agency tasked with to promoting and marketing the trades, developing the latest training and curriculum standards, and providing a streamlined experience. One of the agency’s early actions was to digitize apprentice log books to make things easier for workers. 

To entice employers, McNaughton is offering $17,000 for them to train apprentices. He’s also led a blitz of job fairs highlighting careers in the trades.

Looking ahead, McNaughton said he plans to double down on his strategy and that he believes some of his tactics are set to bear even more fruit in the future. As students enter high school and graduate, he believes that the new curriculum and recruitment efforts will have produced even more apprentices. 

He also is leaving no stone unturned. McNaughton has struck deals or is creating new policy to help skilled immigrants, residents with criminal records and underrepresented groups get careers in the trades. 

“For far too long, people have looked down on people in the trades,” he said. “It’s an injustice and we’ve turned that conversation around in Ontario. I believe that has led to our success. We have a long way to go but it’s a good start. It will take years to fill labour shortages.

If you are looking to build your all-star team, try posting your role on the job board or connect with our specialized recruitment experts to find industry-leading talent for your business.

And if you are seeking a job, check out the full list of available positions.