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Labour minister hears construction trade priorities on Vaughan visit

Skilled trades labour shortage, immigration reforms among issues discussed when Seamus O'Regan, Canada's minister of labour, tours College of Carpenters and Allied Trades
Carpenters union
Minister of Labour Seamus O'Regan Jr. and Vaughan-Woodbridge MP Francesco Sorbara tour the College of Carpenters Training Centre in Vaughan July 14.

The Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (the “CDCO”) was pleased to welcome the Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Jr., P.C., Canada’s Minister of Labour, and Francesco Sorbara, Member of Parliament for Vaughan-Woodbridge, to the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades (the “CCAT”) on July 14, 2022. During their visit, Minister O’Regan and MP Sorbara viewed the CCAT’s training facilities, met some of the CDCO’s young apprentices and even “had a go” at some carpentry work. In addition, discussions took place concerning key priorities for the construction industry, including the need to encourage more Canadians to enter the trades, possible immigration reforms and support for new construction techniques to help our country meet its climate change obligations.

One of the primary issues discussed was the skilled trades shortage that both Ontario and Canada as a whole are facing. It is critical that our industry works together with our partners across all levels of government to bring in Canadians from a variety of different backgrounds to address this need, along with seriously considering changes to our immigration processes to bring in skilled construction workers from overseas. “We need more people in the trades to fix the infrastructure, to improve our electricity power grids, to lower emissions, to build this country,” recognized Minister O’Regan. “We’re together, everybody, on this.”

The current demand for workers continues to skyrocket with substantial investment in infrastructure by all three levels of government and ever-increasing levels of private sector investment in Ontario fueling the demand for more skilled labour. “There has never been a better time to get into the trades,” said Mike Yorke, President of the CDCO. “Our members are constantly employed, earning great wages and benefits that enable them to provide a good life for themselves and their families. More than that, for our Union’s members carpentry isn’t just a job. Instead, what we are giving CDCO carpenters is a life-long career and an opportunity to quite literally build our country and our province.”

Through the apprenticeship programs offered by the CCAT, our members are given the highest standard of skills and safety training in the industry, whether it be in general carpentry, formwork, scaffolding, floor-laying, caulking, or any one of the other numerous areas of construction we train our apprentices in. “Our facility is a revolving door for workers of all different backgrounds, ages and skill levels. From our pre-apprenticeship program to our continuing education courses, we have around 5,000 members every year taking our courses”, said Cristina Selva, Executive Director of CCAT.

MP Sorbara emphasized the local need for this level of training, noting that, “York Region and the GTA are experiencing heightened demand for skilled trades.” Through the CCAT and our other Training Delivery Agencies across Ontario, the CDCO has the capacity and knowledge to train the next generation of carpenters. “We deal directly with unions because we know that they know exactly what their workforce needs and they provide really good hands-on training,” said Minister O’Regan. “I’m really impressed with the facility here. They’re doing a heck of a job,” he added.

“Our industry is lucky to have a Minister of Labour who so clearly recognizes the importance of building the profile of the skilled trades,” noted Mark Lewis, the CDCO’s Chief of Staff. “Through our work together, with all of our industry and government partners, including the great support we’ve received right here in Woodbridge from MP Sorbara, we will continue to train our members to the highest standard in order to ensure that the Carpenters’ Union in Ontario continues to produce the best and most productive workforce in the industry,” he continued.