Building a Better Canada

Infrastructure Canada: Bill C-344

Bill C-344 and the new framework from Infrastructure Canada calls for the reporting of workforce composition of at least 3 of 9 target groups for projects of a certain size, variable by province.  Our members are concerned that this kind of reporting adds to CCA members’ workload and that they may not have this data on their employees.  There is also concern that next time around, instead of simply reporting on community employment benefits, quotas will be introduced.

There are two issues at stake here:

  1. The Government’s approach may be against our policy that “CCA is opposed to using the procurement of construction services to advance unrelated community benefits and other public policy objectives where they jeopardize the integrity of the competitive bid system.’’ Our primary concern with the Bill is that it could lead to an unpredictable, unfair and opaque procurement process. If the government wants community benefits, they must be clearly laid out in the tender documents and each contractor should have an equal opportunity to price the work required. This is a best practice and should be respected.
  2. Are these target groups interested and trained to work in construction? We know that women represent about 3% of construction industry, but do we know how many women, or other segments, apply for and do not get jobs in construction?.  Do we know where the barriers begin, and are we addressing the right issue with the right solution?  Again, we know that women are under-represented in STEM. Given their career choices upon graduation and given there are few of them, will they choose construction over other sectors?  Having quotas and targets at the jobsite may do little to assist with these larger systemic or societal barriers.

 

 Community Benefits: Use #CDNConstructionGives

‘’The Canadian construction industry firmly believes in giving back to the communities in which we live, work and invest. With close to 1.4 million Canadians employed in the industry, construction firms and their employees contribute every day to their local and regional communities ‘’

A great source of pride for me as I meet with the industry across the country is just how committed our members are to their communities. From food banks, to Habitat for Humanity, to hiring apprentices, the construction industry makes a difference with their voluntary corporate social responsibility initiatives. This is in addition to the many formal programs construction associations have already put in place to help under-represented segments get into construction, like Saskatchewan’s SkillsLink or BC’s STEP.

Infrastructure: The Future is Still Very Bright.

There are some troubling indications that Canada may be losing some ground at least in the short-term; particularly vis àvis the US, as being a desired place in which to work and invest.

Trump’s unjustified tariffs on Canada, particularly steel and aluminum, and Canada’s necessary retaliatory measures ultimately will impact the industry’s productivity, potentially delaying necessary infrastructure projects and depriving communities of the related benefits.

But, investing in Canada’s infrastructure is critical for the continued development of Canada and keeping pace with world-class economies. 

The Government of Canada’s Investing in Canadaplan consists of $180B over 10 years.  We are very much supportive of this plan and advocated for this in the pre-budget submission.

There has been some slippage in the flow of funds – this could be for a variety of reasons; municipalities may not have been project ready; the tendering process may have taken longer than planned or the capacity of the industry is not available or is tied up with other projects.  Unfortunately, this means that communities may not be benefiting as soon as hoped for from the economic stimulus or the improvements to the quality of life infrastructure investments provide.

A more efficient system of getting infrastructure funding to projects would be helpful and CCA remains committed to working with the Federal Government and with provincial and local partnerships through our local associations.  The goal is to smooth out the boom and bust of funding, which creates higher costs, labour shortages during the boom, and limited opportunities for apprenticeship training during the busts. 

 CCA will continue to reach out to Government, our partner associations and community groups to identify positive ways to advance opportunities for all Canadians who are motivated, trained and available to work in construction.

Together, we can make construction a career of choice; and Canada, a great place in which to work and invest.

 

 

Email me at mvanburen@cca-acc.comif you have feedback on CCA’s advocacy work. I am hoping to see you at our 2019 conference in balmy Bermuda! Visit cca-acc.comfor more information and bit.ly/ccasubscribeto receive updates from CCA, CCDC, CDBI, Gold Seal or LCI-C.

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