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It’s a job title that you rarely see, but Jeff Sample believes it is necessary. As an industry evangelist he promotes collaboration and the transformation of preconstruction to help project teams reach their potential.
We spoke with Sample about his unique position at Join, a collaborative project delivery platform, and how he transitioned from a more traditional tech career into the construction sector.
Be sure to catch Sample in Vancouver, B.C. for 2023 Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) Construction Innovation Summit on October 30th and 31st. He and many other industry experts will be discussing how to push the construction sector forward.
SiteNews: How do you get involved in the construction sector?
Jeff Sample: I accidentally found my way into it. By trade I am an IT architect and I spent some time in the development world building software. As it goes with software, that company was acquired a couple of times and I was looking for a new job. A large masonry contractor contacted me and said we need you. I jumped on board and spent three years there. After some initial struggles getting my head around the business, I fell in love. I saw opportunities ahead and the struggles and honestly I got a wicked taste of the gratification that comes from building things, even though I don’t put the work in place. I helped the people who put it in place and it inspired me and connected me with those people and I want to make their lives easier. It’s a tough job and we don’t respect it enough.
What is an industry evangelist?
It’s part of the maturation of any industry. When I got involved in technology for construction it was very new and the tools were very new. And there is a curve every industry goes through where you have the peak of inflated expectations and the trough of disillusionment and then companies make their way from there. To really do it you need people who are passionate about both sides of the industry and can connect them. I became the head of communications at Join to bring the product to life in the preconstruction market. Once we built that up we realized that we needed to evangelize the change that Join was built for. We were built to solve a problem. Modern delivery methods are changing into more collaborative methods, teaming up earlier together to achieve more predictable and reliable products for owners. To do that we needed a whole new set of tools and Join is one of them. But we realized that the more that idea grew, the more we could grow with it. But it had to be about the industry. The role of “evangelist” was built to raise awareness about the problems and to realize that the boundaries don’t exist, rather than to just sell a product. If someone wasn’t evangelizing the power of this new kind of delivery model for all the stakeholders, it could continue to stall out.
How can the industry bridge the gap between the jobsite and technology?
Since I came from an organization that put work in place, and masonry is one of the last pieces of work put in place, I had this view of the entire process and how technology can help it. But tech can’t just be for tech’s sake. It can make a really bad process suck more efficiently. If your process is broken, it doesn’t matter if I make it faster. The idea is we have to understand your process and see where you are starting from, what is the goal and how we can help you achieve that goal. You need somebody who has free reign and isn’t tied to selling you something or handing something over. If I help them get set up for better, more collaborative delivery models, it plugs into what Join is doing. The difference between selling technology and partnering with an industry is having an evangelist.
What is the future of preconstruction and how do we get there?
It’s the most critical component of construction and that’s why I’ve bet my career on it. Being with trade contractors and working with them so much let me see the impact that happens downstream from poor planning. I had a stint at a project management platform for trade contractors and had this idea of doing integrated labour delivery. Other models have all players at the table at all times, but that is antiquated and expensive. That’s just a bad business model. The reason those contractors are there is because they are waiting for that one thing that’s going to help them be efficient and that they can give input on. And this can have a really high impact on the overall success of a project. But some of these models are like asking everyone to come to Thanksgiving dinner to have a conversation about politics, nothing gets done. But if the team can align early, can trust one another, and they can be empowered to know that when they are needed to collaborate they will be brought in and listened to, and have good decisions made that reduce risk, this can increase the predictability and move the means and methods forward. But ultimately none of this gets done if we don’t break down the barriers and expose the unconscious biases we have had for years. We have operated with our cards up our sleeves for so long, we do it without even knowing. Something will always go wrong on a project, whether that’s rain, late materials, or whatever. If the construction team hasn’t begun with trust at the earliest inception, they have no hope that they can lean on each other to deliver differently. If you want that to happen at the latest stages it has to start in the earliest. That’s why pre-construction is the future. It’s the future because with these labour shortages, we can’t build the same way. We are headed for a cliff of people leaving the industry
What is holding the industry back when it comes to innovation?
One of the barriers we have is that we are profitable this way. I don’t know many contractors that aren’t buying new trucks and beach houses and making money. It’s not as much as they should be making and it’s not sustainable. How many family construction companies have built wealth from generation to generation? That wealth is about to start going away if they don’t innovate and can’t deliver. One of the barriers is business as usual. I think the other is culture. Change is hard. Anyone telling you this is easy probably has a bridge to sell you too. The funny thing is, we are culturally built for this anyways. We bring new people into the industry as apprentices, turn them into journeypeople. We have changed, trained and molded people for years. We just have to look at our entire operations and change management strategies and apply that.
Advice for companies wanting to innovate
The first step is admitting you have a problem. The second step is asking for help. I don’t expect the owner of a construction company to understand innovation and technology at its core. You don’t have to. You have to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable and leaning into an uncomfortable space is the most powerful thing you can do. You have to be ready to fail. You will fail far more than you succeed but the key to succeed is taking the swing. The other thing is everybody is waiting for the perfect time. That doesn’t exist. There is no perfect time or project. Everytime you say that, you fall behind even more. Do it now. You don’t have to understand innovation or technology. AI is a perfect example of this. I get asked about AI all the time. AI is like a new engine in a car. It’s a cool, fancy thing like a supercharged car engine. But all you have to understand is how that changes driving down the road and how to get your vehicle where it needs to go.
The name AtkinsRéalis is a coined term that combines Atkins, a legacy brand, and “Réalis,” inspired by the city of Montréal and the company’s French-Canadian roots. “Réalis” also resembles the verb “to realize” or “to make happen”.
Company officials noted thatEdwards explained that in recent years, the company has been deliberately repositioned and has exited parts of the business that were not profitable or didn’t align with its strategy.
They have also worked to correct underlying performance issues, doubled down on high-growth global markets and embraced digital transformation.
The Whole Story:
SNC-Lavalin is SNC-Lavalin no more.
The fully integrated professional services and project management company based in Montreal announced that it is rebranding to AtkinsRéalis.
The name AtkinsRéalis is a coined term that combines Atkins, a legacy brand that is well-established across the company’s international markets, and “Réalis,” inspired by the city of Montréal and the company’s French-Canadian roots. “Réalis” also resembles the verb “to realize” or “to make happen” which emphasizes our focus on outcomes and project delivery.
The 36,000-person company stated that the changes build on more than a century of history from brands such as SNC-Lavalin, Atkins, Faithful+Gould, DTS and Atkins Acuity, AtkinsRéalis and bring the whole organization together under one single brand.
“AtkinsRéalis is a new name for a new transformed company: our ability to draw upon such breadth and depth of global capabilities will maximize our ability to work seamlessly and provide one integrated offering for our clients and partners,” said Ian L. Edwards, president and CEO of AtkinsRéalis. “Everything starts with our people; they care about each other, this Company and most importantly, they care about the work we do and believe in our purpose to engineer a better future for our planet and its people. I could not be prouder of our team’s dedication to the success of this company.”
Edwards explained that in recent years, the company has been repositioned and has exited parts of the business that were not profitable or didn’t align with its strategy. He added that the company has also worked to correct underlying performance issues, doubled down on high-growth global markets and embraced digital transformation.
He stressed that the most important change has been redefining the company’s purpose and strengthening its culture.
“We have reached an inflection point so now is the right time to rebrand to AtkinsRéalis and reflect the exciting future ahead of us,” said Edwards.
As of Sept. 13, the company’s new brand and associated visual identity will be used on all communications materials. The Company’s common shares will begin trading on the TSX under the new ticker symbol (TSX: ATRL) prior to market open on Sept. 18, 2023. SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. will not change its legal name until the Company obtains shareholder approval, as required by law, at its 2024 Annual Meeting of Shareholders.
SiteNews competition showcases construction trailblazers
The list of winners, which can be found here, cast a wide net over many different fields. They include some of the largest general contractors in the country, tech startups, materials manufacturers, homebuilders, environmental champions and more.
When the competition was envisioned, the SiteNews team sought to create a way to highlight and encourage companies that are blazing a trail for others.
“The 25 Innovators in Construction award serves as a platform to celebrate trailblazers in a sector often perceived as slow-moving,” said Brett Rutledge, SiteNews co-founder. “The truth is, there’s a surge of innovation happening, and we’re delighted to showcase these companies and their achievements.”
The winners were chosen by a panel of five judges who assessed applicants based on five criteria:
Sustainability and environmental impact
Collaboration and partnerships
SiteNews Editor Russell Hixson, who has been covering Canada’s construction sector for nearly a decade, was part of the judging staff. He noted that the submissions showed significant breakthroughs in environmentalism, material development, worker health, digitization, training and other areas.
“This isn’t just about our industry,” said Hixson. “Many of these companies are doing things that are addressing the biggest issues our country and our planet faces: CO2 emissions, housing supply, workforce training, safety and more. These leaders are not only elevating construction, they are making society better.”
RAM Consulting co-founder and CEO Joe Di Placito, who also assisted in the judging, was equally impressed by the applicants.
“I was blown away by the innovation that’s occurring across our industry,” he said. “There were some interesting themes when reviewing the submissions from well known general contractors implementing new technologies to new products being created that reduce carbon footprint. My biggest take away was that now is probably the most exciting time to be in engineering and construction as we see innovation disrupt so many aspects of what was previously accepted practices or products.”
Dom Costantini, a 19-year veteran of Bird Construction who now has his own consulting firm, found it challenging to narrow down the submissions to 25.
“The variety in the businesses, the services, products, and technologies were much broader than I expected,” he said. “I am very excited to see the list of 25 Innovators and to meet them in person at the celebration event later this month. Thank you to SiteNews for giving me this opportunity to learn more about the construction industry.”
You’re never too young to give heavy equipment a try. Kiewit employees in Western Canada celebrate Family Day by checking out some of the company’s machinery fleet.
Wildstone Construction Group
This project is a blast from the blast on the banks of the Yukon River. Crews are hard at work restoring the Canadian Bank of Commerce which was originally built in 1901.
Corry Anderson-Fennell / LiUNA Local 1611
Patrick Smalls, 18, practices cement work as part of LiUNA Local 1611’s Training PLUS (Professional Labourers’ Union School) program. After 120 hours of classroom and practical experience, students wrote a final exam and were then dispatched to B&B Contracting.
West Metric JV
Crews install culverts at the Kitselas housing development in B.C.
Gordie Howe International Bridge
Demon is a black lab who patrols the Gordie Howe International Bridge construction site to prevent birds and other wildlife from nesting where they might be impacted by work. Great work, Demon!
Jacob Bros Construction
This month the Musqueam Gathering Place was unveiled at YVR featuring Jacob Bros‘ Musqueam YVR Canoe Build project. The project team collaborated with a team of eight Musqueam Indian Band members, including two artisan carvers, to carve a traditional Musqueam Journey Canoe out of a 35ft section of red cedar.
Indigenous elders mark the start of construction at the Ho’-kee-melh Kloshe Lum project in Vancouver. The name means “to gather, good spirits”. The facility will include 143 low-to-moderate-income rentals, 25 supportive housing units and 80 shelter beds.
Double Black Construction / John Lohan
Crews prepare the steel bones of the new 25,000 square foot Waywayseecappo’s Community Centre. Located 30 kilometers east of Russell, Manitoba, Waywayseecappo First Nation Reserve is a community of slightly more than 3,100 people close to Stony Lake.
Crews working under a blue and orange sky at the Portage la Prairie Bypass project in Manitoba.
Youth learn construction skills at Durham College as part of Skills Ontario’s summer camp program.
The Sam Ibrahaim Building project team sign the last steel beam before it is hoisted into place at the University of Toronto Scarborough.
Par Six Golf
Next time you get a hole in one, thank this bulldozer. Crews carry out work at the Edmonton Country Club.
Does this count as topping off? Faber Construction’s team celebrates reaching the peak of Mount Baker. From top to bottom, the active volcano a 3,288 metre climb.
The Shot of the Month goes to:
Finning celebrates International Dog Day with some furry friends and Caterpillar machinery.
The extra funding aims to help get at least 100,000 workers free training.
The funding will prioritize programs that propose innovative training solutions to help people on social assistance and with prior criminal records.
It will target critical industries like healthcare, auto-manufacturing, information technology, hospitality and the skilled trades.
The announcement brings Ontario’s total investment in the Skills Development Fund Training Stream to over $860 million.
The Whole Story:
The Ontario government wants to make sure those with a criminal record can get a second chance at life with a career in the skilled trades.
Officials announced plans to invest an additional $160 million in the Skills Development Fund (SDF) to tackle the labour shortage and help at least 100,000 workers get free training. The funding will prioritize programs that propose innovative training solutions to help people on social assistance and with prior criminal records find meaningful employment in critical industries like healthcare, auto-manufacturing, information technology, hospitality and the skilled trades.
“For too long, too many in our community have been forgotten and treated as second class in their own province. In the middle of a historic labour shortage, we need all hands on deck,” said Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, immigration, training and skills development. “That is why our government is leaving no stone unturned to ensure we give anyone who wants a job and a paycheque they can be proud of a shot at the Ontario dream. Whether you’ve been on social assistance for 10 months or 10 years, we’ll help you.”
The province noted that roughly 300,000 jobs in Ontario are going unfilled every day, which threatens to hurt the economy and stall the government’s infrastructure plans, including building at least 1.5 million homes by 2031. At the same time, more than 800,000 people in Ontario rely on social assistance when the majority are willing, able and eager to work. This includes hundreds of thousands of people with a criminal record and have not reoffended – almost half of whom are on social assistance even 15 years after release from prison.
In response, the fourth round of the Skills Development Fund Training Stream will support programs that help them find meaningful work and tackle the labour shortage.
The announcement was made in Dresden, where the government announced a $465,000 investment through a previous round of the Skills Development Fund Training Stream to prepare 24 young people for well-paying careers in construction and the skilled trades in Chatham-Kent. SkillShift will provide a free six-week introductory course that teaches participants essential skills for construction, such as blueprint reading, scissor lift certifications, as well as financial literacy and soft skills, with mentors, networking opportunities and $1,125 for equipment and transportation. Participants will also receive a paid two-week job placement with a local employer.
“Through this transformative $465,000 investment, the Government of Ontario is shaping brighter futures for 24 youth in Chatham-Kent while invigorating our local construction industry,” said Phillip Mock, executive director at Vision Us. “Vision Us is excited to be leading this investment in our community with our partners.”
“This $465,000 investment in our youth through the Skills Development Fund is a transformative step,” says Trevor Jones, MPP for Chatham-Kent-Leamington. “Empowering youth for rewarding careers in construction and skilled trades not only secures their future but also fuels the growth of Chatham-Kent-Leamington as a thriving community.”
The announcement brings Ontario’s total investment in the Skills Development Fund Training Stream to over $860 million.
Jeannine Martin is the new Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA) president. The group stated that with over twenty-five years of industry experience in private construction and engineering, and leadership on local industry boards, the British Columbia Construction Roundtable (BCCR) and the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – British Columbia (ACEC-BC), Martin understands the challenges and opportunities facing B.C.’s construction industry.
In her first 100 days with the association, Martin will focus on:
Building connections with VRCA members, stakeholders, and staff
Operationalizing VRCA’s Strategic Plan
Working with the British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA) to advance Prompt Payment legislation and other topline issues including the shortage of skilled trades
Continuing to develop VRCA’s Reconciliation Action Plan
Maddison Sharples has joined the Fengate Asset Management team as director of marketing and communications for its infrastructure business. Previously, Sharples worked as senior manager of marketing and communications for ACCIONA North America.
Aubrey Tucker has announced his return to the architecture, engineering, construction, owner, operator (AECOO) industry with the launch of Tucker Technology Consulting. The firm will help clients deliver BIM projects, make Digital Twins, transform project delivery and find new digital strategies.
Marcia Braundy has been presented with a Lifetime Achievement award by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum for her outstanding dedication to advancing women in the trades. The group stated that Braundy’s trailblazing efforts in advancing women in trades serve as a remarkable example of the power and impact of women. Braundy was one of the first women in B.C. to become a Red Seal carpenter despite facing severe harassment. Since then she’s spent decades researching, promoting and improving trades careers for women.
Darryl Conroy is the new president of Professional Excavators & Construction Inc. The company provides earthworks services, site services, concrete flatworks, and asphalt paving for civil and commercial projects within the City of Calgary and throughout the Province of Alberta. Conroy’s previous position was manager of underground construction at Standard General Calgary.
Marco Bolk has been promoted by Burns & McDonnell lead the engineering, architecture and construction firm’s Canadian Construction Group, with Bolk based in Calgary. The firm’s Canadian operations offers full-service engineering, construction and consulting solutions in a variety of sectors. Prior to coming to Burns & McDonnell, Bolk managed regional offices in both Ontario and Western Canada, focusing on turnkey engineer-procure-construct (EPC) solutions.
Daljit Thind, founder and CEO of Thind Properties, has been awarded the Order of British Columbia. It is the highest form of recognition the province can bestow upon a citizen. Thind came to Canada in the 1990s and worked laying tile. He was inspired to build homes for other immigrants and has now created more than $4 billion worth of developments. He has also donated millions to charity.
“His impact on B.C. is seen in many ways: he transforms neglected areas into prosperous ones. He helps thousands of people build their own prosperity; and he focuses on building community instead of only erecting buildings.”
The Province of B.C. on Daljit Thind
Mohamed Adel has been promoted to digital construction director-buildings at Bird Construction. Adel called the position “a dream come true” as he has always been passionate about digital transformation and innovation in the construction industry. Adel joined Bird four years ago as a BIM manager for the Atlantic Region, and since then he has been working on a transformative program to implement true digital construction at the company.
Guido Wimmers has been appointed dean of the British Columbia Institute of Technology‘s School of Construction and the Environment. Prior to moving to Canada in 2007, Wimmers collaborated with multi-disciplinary teams across Austria, Germany, and Italy, focusing on energy-efficient and sustainable building projects. In B.C., he played an instrumental role in the implementation of the International Passive House Standards in the province and across Canada. Wimmers will take over the position from Wayne Hand, who is set to retire in September.
Kirk Fisher has been appointed CEO of Lark Group of Companies. Lark noted that Fisher has been instrumental in shaping the company’s trajectory for decades. His journey began at the King George Mobile Home Park and continued as he played a pivotal role in establishing the Health and Technology District and the HealthTech Connex Inc. group of companies.
Walid Abou-Hamde has been named executive director of the Ontario Road Builders’ Association (ORBA). Abou-Hamde, who holds an Honours Bachelor of Applied Science in chemical engineering, has worked with the provincial government in the Infrastructure and Labour portfolios, as well as Skilled Trades Ontario.
“We are convinced that Walid will be able to leverage the strengths that he has achieved over the past seven years to benefit ORBA and Ontario Asphalt Pavement Council (OAPC) members. ORBA/OAPC priorities over the next several years will focus on contract and risk management, workforce development and sustainability.”
Mario Villeneuve – ORBA President
The first steps have been taken on an ambitious journey to help all industries within health and safety use cutting edge technology to evolve the audit process saving you time and money.
SALUS, a digital health and safety management platform created for the construction sector, is working with software companies and associations in Alberta as part of a new approach to build a more collaborative community to service all industries.
Rather than a typical quid pro quo approach to generate fast revenue or get access to new customer leads, SALUS’ goal is simple: make health and safety in construction and all industries better, together.
They believe that if they can demonstrate their commitment to this goal, it could start a transformation that spreads across all industries and improve it for everybody.
“We have an opportunity to be the catalyst for helping the health and safety industry to evolve to the next level.”
Gabe Guetta – SALUS Founder and CEO
“For us, the industry is what matters — pulling relationships together, creating networks, and creating efficiencies for your customers. If they are happy, we are happy and everybody wins,” said Gabe Guetta, SALUS CEO and founder. “Software companies breaking into the construction industry need to stop focusing on the money. They need to focus on the relationships and the bigger picture of how their products help change the industry. Money comes in the end when those primary objectives have been accomplished.”
Guetta explained that some industries such as the construction industry can be incredibly fragmented. For a project, you often have a general contractor work with dozens of subcontractors. Many are using completely different software systems for health and safety that don’t integrate with each other. Some aren’t using software at all.
“We want to start a process where we can bring things together. This could be the first step towards that,” said Guetta. “We want businesses to partner with us because it makes them better.
There is value that comes from the partnership. They grow better with us compared to going at it alone.”
Partnering with AuditSoft
To kick this process off, SALUS’ team announced a partnership with AuditSoft, which was founded in Alberta. The company’s award-winning software enables best practice safety and compliance auditing at scale, and was launched to make Certificate of Recognition (COR) auditing more efficient and impactful.
AuditSoft’s solution suite drives standardization and inter-auditor consistency, then deconstructs audit scores to analyze the data comparatively.
“We want to aggregate that auditing data to see areas of improvement, drive training and awareness, and see how the industry is moving toward compliance,” explained AuditSoft founder Ben Snyman. “These insights enable data-driven decision-making at both Association and membership level and fuel continuous improvement.”
The collaboration will integrate SALUS with AuditSoft’s Open API, allowing users to access and embed critical safety documents, submitted forms, and worker certificates directly into their audit reports with a click of a button. This enhanced functionality alleviates the burden of manual data transfer and optimizes audit workflows.
“We are all part of the ecosystem of data and don’t really need to compete. This adds value to all the stakeholders,” said Snyman. “We have a long term view. We believe in what SALUS is doing and believe over time the value will be reciprocal.”
Working with Certifying Partners
But SALUS hasn’t stopped there. Their team is also working with the Alberta Association for Safety Partnerships (AASP), one of Alberta’s largest official certifiers for the COR program, to streamline access for members. AASP CEO Ray Gaetz explained that the association was an early AuditSoft adopter and he is excited to see it integrated into other software that can be made available to all members in all industries.
“If you don’t have a good management system with a good dashboard that can help you manage details at your fingertips, it’s like herding cats,” he said. “Any company that is growing their health and safety program wants to save time, money and ensure that they can follow up on things in a timely fashion. You can’t afford not to have it.”
The integration comes at an auspicious time for the province. Ray explained that the COR certifying partners and government officials have been holding meetings on how to harmonize efforts and improve health and safety for everyone.
“We are now working towards the possibility of accepting other province’s COR certifications,” he said. “If we can do that across Canada that will be a huge win.”
Part of this effort has been AASP’s input on AuditSoft and pushing to make it available to every certifying partner. But after spending two decades working in human resources and overseeing COR certifications, Gaetz is cautious about what he recommends for members. He believes that AuditSoft and SALUS can help the industry achieve its safety goals for years to come.
“They knew who we were, how we operated, and shared the same values. And that is what I see in SALUS: a very customer service focused, cutting edge technology, and a quality product that they support,” he said. “They say they are in it for the long haul and that’s very important to us, having someone that won’t just disappear. Collaborating with companies like that is very important.”
Guetta explained that its collaborative approach in Alberta is just the beginning. SALUS plans to approach each major construction market in a bespoke way to try and bring its health and safety stakeholders together.
One of the big challenges is getting direct competitors to work together. Guetta believes that over time SALUS can knock down those walls with their actions.
“We have an opportunity to be the catalyst for helping the health and safety industry to evolve to the next level,” he said. “We can help power that change. And you have to look at that as the value, not the money. If you can help bring everyone together and create this community and bring change, that is powerful.”
There are still some weeks of summer left and we want you to make the most of it. Check out some upcoming events for construction professionals all across Canada.
ICBA Construction Innovation Summit / Oct. 30-31 / Vancouver, B.C.
CCA Annual Conference / March 12-15 / Dominican Republic
The 2024 Canadian Construction Association (CCA) Annual Conference is taking place in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. In addition to many panels, speeches, awards and networking opportunities, the Group’s National Advisory Council (NAC) meetings and Annual General Meeting (AGM) will also take place at the same location.
VRCA Awards of Excellence Gala / Oct. 17 / Vancouver, B.C.
Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA) members will head to Halifax next month for the group’s Annual General Meeting & Conference. The conference aims to bring together professionals from various fields to exchange ideas, explore new trends, and foster collaboration. Organizers say attendees will have the opportunity to gain valuable insights, learn from industry leaders, and enhance their professional network. It will include a pub crawl, legal workshops and more.
Interdisciplinary Symposium on Smart & Sustainable Infrastructures (ISSSI)
Sept. 4-8 / Vancouver, B.C.
The primary objective of ISSSI 2023 is to create an environment of mutual cooperation between experts in materials and structures and provide a forum for active dialogue. The organizers believe that it is only through a multi-disciplinary approach that significant cross-fertilization of ideas can occur and innovative solutions to infrastructural inadequacies can be found. One special part of ISSSI 2023 is the presence of industry and government on a common platform with the academia. Topics include high carbon emissions from the construction industry, sensors, robotics and AI.
Toronto Mass Timber Conference / Sept. 7-8 / Toronto, Ont.
This two-day live event is all about exploring mass timber design and construction methods, learning about the latest mass timber developments, and networking with like-minded professionals and over 18 guest speakers. The conference, co-organized by Rothoblaas and the Brookfield Sustainability Institute (BSI), will feature presentations, discussions, and plenty of networking opportunities.
Tunnelling Association of Canada Conference / Sept. 24-26 / Toronto, Ont.
The theme for the association’s 2023 conference is “Smart Solutions, Future Growth”. Organizers say this theme be highlighted throughout the event through keynote speakers, plenary presentations, technical sessions, networking, and a trade exhibition to showcase tunnelling and trenchless technology throughout Canada and around the world.
Housing Supply Summit / Oct. 12 / Virtual
The Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) plans to virtually hold its third Housing Supply Summit on Oct. 12. The theme of this year’s virtual conference is “Driving Solutions to the Crisis”. Topices include a residential market update, government taxes, development approvals, modernization and digitization, construction innovation and technology.
BC Construction Health & Safety Conference / Oct. 19-20 / Vancouver, B.C.
The BC Construction Safety Alliance has finalized the 2023 BC Construction Health & Safety Conference speaker roster. The conference will take place Oct. 19-20 at the Pinnacle Harbourfront Hotel in Vancouver. Presented by the Offsite Construction Network, the Offsite Construction Expo will be live in Toronto, Ontario, in June to offer all attendees a focused presentation of the abilities of offsite construction across all markets.
ConEX The Builders Expo / Sept. 28 / Saskatoon, Sask.
ConEX is the first-ever Saskatchewan construction trade show and conference. It will feature more than 100 booths to showcase the newest and most innovative products and services. It also includes networking opportunities, and presentations from public and private sector owners about their upcoming projects.
BUILDEX Alberta / Oct. 18-19 / Calgary, Alta.
Join industry peers from Architecture, Interior Design, Construction, Engineering, Property Management and Homebuilding & Renovation professions at the Calgary Telus Convention Centre for two days of networking, learning and finding new solutions. BUILDEX Alberta is a major opportunity for architecture, design, construction, and property management professionals to do business-to-business networking.
Trades Expo / Oct. 18-19 / Surrey, B.C.
The largest interactive trades even in the B.C., Trades Expo is for anyone interested in the trades. Youth, Women, Men, newcomers, and career changers, Trades Expo aims to provide a path to a sustainable career.
The Canadian Steel Conference / Sept. 26-27 / Toronto, Ont.
Modelling the best practices of the steel construction industry, the Canadian Steel Conference offers the opportunity for all participants to meet, exchange, collaborate and network with industry leaders and stakeholders. This CISC Conference also offers a comprehensive program of multiple business development, educational, and networking activities.
BUILDEX Vancouver / Feb. 14-15 2024 / Vancouver, B.C.
Planning is well underway for BUILDEX Vancouver. Organizers are looking to finalize their speaker line up by the end of August. The even will explore the future of design, construction, architecture, engineering, homebuilding & renovation, and property management. The show will offer a comprehensive educational program with skills building seminars, workshops, panel discussions, and engaging keynotes to enable you to compete in today’s evolving market.
Beyond the BILD Conference / Sept. 14-17 / Banff, Alta.
This fall industry members will gather in one of the Alberta’s most picturesque locations to celebrate, network and learn at BILD Alberta’s annual conference event. The multi-day event will feature learning sessions, a trade show, a golf tournament and more. You can be a part of the event by becoming a sponsor or exhibiting in the trade show. But this is not an event to wait on. Hotel rooms at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel are currently sold out. A waiting list and instructions will be provided upon registration along with alternative hotel options.
The Canadian Leadership Institute / Oct. 2-5 / Kananaskis, Alta.
The Canadian Leadership Institute features three intensive days of simulations, instructional time, assessments, and one-on-one coaching. For more than 20 years, FMI Corporation has been presenting Leadership Institutes to the American construction market. Now that training is available in Alberta thanks to a partnership with the Edmonton Construction Association.
The Buildings Show / Nov. 29-Dec. 1 / Toronto, Ont.
For 35 years, The Buildings Show features seminars, informative panels and thought-provoking roundtables. This year’s show will take place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre Nov. 29 – Dec. 1. Last year’s show saw more than 13,000 visitors, 270 speakers and 478 exhibitors.
Road Builders Fall Business Conference / Sept. 17-18 / Kelowna, B.C.
Meet the GC is a new event designed to support meaningful connections between the Ottawa Construction Association’s general contractor members and its trade contractors, manufacturer and suppliers, and Industry service providers. This event will be part of a series that focuses on networking and connections. Each general contractor will be invited to the stage to give a brief summary of their firm, current and upcoming projects, and expectations for business in the year ahead. This will be followed by a networking opportunities. These events will be hosted multiple times across the calendar year.
Dr. Julian Somers, one of the study’s authors, explained that the workers filled out questionnaires while the industry leaders participated in semi-structured interviews. These interviews were then analyzed using special software and compared to the questionnaires.
“They are in tight agreement around what the problems are related to substance use,” said Somers. “The Blueprint Project found that cannabis and alcohol accounted for the vast majority of safety and health-related risks faced by workers in the B.C. construction sector.”
Cocaine use was far more commonly reported than opioid consumption among 639 workers from around BC in diverse jobs. About one in nine had heard of a drug overdose ever occurring on a jobsite. Insights from industry leaders reinforced the message that other drugs, rather than opioids, were of greatest concern.
Somers, a professor at Simon Fraser University, has been working in the field of mental illness and substance use since the 1980s. He was director of the University of British Columbia’s Psychology Clinic, president of the BC Psychological Association, and founding director of the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction.
“We were aware of claims before we started that people in construction were somehow disproportionately associated with the drug poisoning crisis,” said Somers. “I saw the dynamic, especially with me, working in construction as day labourers. They come out of court or simply while on probation, and they are often encouraged to go to temporary labour agencies that can connect them with work on sites. That was one hypothesis that we considered which might explain the overlap.”
However, when the team began analyzing the evidence, they were not convinced. He believes that whether or not someone is employed is a much more important factor.
“Going back to addiction literature, the headline from these analyses talking about any form of job should be that poisonings overwhelmingly affect unemployed people and there should be a focus on ways of creating opportunities for employment,” said Somer.
He noted that the research shows individuals who used drugs shortly before or after work reported that at work they felt that they did not have control over what they were doing, they were typically younger, had lower levels of formal education, they did not feel that excellence was valued at work and did not feel like there were opportunities for advancement.
“Alcohol – by leaps and bounds is the number one problem.”
– Anonymous informant for the Blueprint study
“This shows that the spotlight really needs to be shone in a diff direction,” said Somer. “We didn’t say anything in the report about deemphasizing opioids or that we should scale back the effort and money being spent. But we did say that it is unlikely to help the vast majority of people experiencing poisoning, mainly because those individuals are unemployed.”
The report concludes by saying that the narrative of substantial overlap between poisonings and construction appears to be a disservice to the vast majority of those who are at risk of poisoning, and diverts attention from more robustly demonstrated safety and health-related risks in the construction sector.
“Rather than implicating the construction sector in the current poisoning crisis, the available results emphatically demonstrate the need for employment and related supports among people who are at risk for fatal poisonings,” reads the report. “And in that regard the construction sector is an important potential ally in reducing the death toll, by providing opportunities for those at risk, most commonly young men, to receive training and support for well-paying, satisfying, and in demand jobs.”
Mike McKenna, BCCSA executive director, explained that the research suggests the industry needs to come up with new ways to help improve worker health.
“This research changes the narrative about the type of substance use we’re seeing in the construction industry,” says Mike McKenna, executive director, BCCSA. “With guidance from the evidence collected under the research program to date, we believe we’ll be able to devise programs that more effectively target substance use in the industry.”
The BC Building Trades took issue with the report, stating that it contradicts their experience in the construction industry. BC Building Trades union members access confidential counselling and addiction support services from the Construction Industry Rehabilitation Plan (CIRP). Each year, CIRP serves approximately 220 construction workers. Since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020, CIRP’s intakes have increased by 64%.
“Opioid use has a significant impact on many of the people who work in the construction industry,” said the group. “The vast majority of scientific research confirms that fact. Studies from the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, The National Safety Council, the BC Centre on Substance Use and the Public Health Agency of Canada all reinforce that workers in the construction industry face unique risk factors when it comes to drug use, including stigma.”
The group noted that majority of members seeking addiction support services are seeking supports for alcohol, cocaine and marijuana, but argued that this does not mean that its members are free from the dangers of B.C.’s poisoned drug supply.
“It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about opioids, cocaine, or any other substance,” they said. “If people are using drugs, whether during downtime or on the job, there’s a good chance they contain fentanyl or fentanyl analogues. And that means those drugs can kill them.”
The group added that it does not want the construction industry to use the study to divert treatment and harm reduction resources from the sector.
Canada’s Express Entry system is now tailored to provide a streamlined pathway for individuals with expertise in critical fields, including construction.
Federal officials stated that by prioritizing the invitation of skilled newcomers with experience in the trades, Canada aims to meet the increasing demand for talent and fill key positions that contribute to the nation’s economic growth and advancement.
On May 31, the Sean Fraser, the previous minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, announced changes to Express Entry through category-based selection. Fraser noted that these changes help address labour shortages that support an identified economic goal by inviting candidates with specific work experience or French language ability to apply for permanent residence.
Today, current Minister of Immigration Marc Miller announced the first trades round for category-based selection will open this week. Miller said that the focus on candidates with trades expertise—including carpentry, plumbing, and welding—will help Canada’s construction sector attract the skilled talent it needs across the country.
These category-based selection rounds will continue throughout the year, alongside general invitation rounds, and more details will be announced in the coming weeks.
“It’s absolutely critical to address the shortage of skilled trades workers in our country, and part of the solution is helping the construction sector find and maintain the workers it needs,” said Miller. “This round of category-based selection recognizes these skilled trades workers as essential, and I look forward to welcoming more of these talented individuals to Canada.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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!
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.
For the uninitiated, the concept of SiteViews is simple. Leveraging both the remarkable submissions from our readers and our team’s diligent internet sleuthing, we curate a monthly showcase of some of the industry’s finest photos. Have a submission? Those can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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’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 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
And if you are seeking a job, check out the full list of available positions.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
“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.
Seamus O’Regan Jr., minister of labour, says the differences between the positions of the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Canada are not sufficient to justify a continued work stoppage.
“As a result of the hard work by the parties at the bargaining table, there is a good deal within reach – one that would work for both the employer and the union,” said the minister in a statement.
O’Regan Jr. has asked that the senior federal mediator send a written recommendation of the terms of settlement to him within 24 hours. Once he has received the terms of settlement, he plans to forward them to the parties and they will have 24 hours to decide whether or not to recommend ratification of the terms to their principals.
“Our nation’s economy depends on the relationship between industry and labour,” he added. “The scale of this disruption shows how important the relationship between the BCMEA and the ILWU is to our national interest. We cannot allow this work stoppage to persist and risk further damage to the relationship between these parties.”