Carpenters talk industry priorities with provincial, federal officials

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Minister O’Regan tries some of the tools of the carpentry trade.

Ontario Construction Report staff writer

Federal Minister of Labour Seamus  O’Regan and Vaughan-Woodbridge MP Francesco Sorbara toured the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades (CCAT) training facilities, met some of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario (CDCO) young apprentices and tried their hands at some carpentry work in July.

In addition, officials spoke about 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 meet climate change obligations.

One of the primary issues discussed was the skilled trades shortage that Ontario and Canada are facing. Carpenters say it is critical that the industry to work together with 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,” said 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 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.”

The apprenticeship programs offered by the CCAT provide the highest standard of skills and safety training in the industry, Yorke said, 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.

Sorbara emphasized the local need for this level of training, noting that “York Region and the GTA are experiencing heightened demand for skilled trades.”

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.”

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