RENKEMA: Toronto’s desperate times call for obvious solutions

This is a guest entry by PCA VP of Ontario, Karen Renkema. It was originally published in the Toronto Sun. View the full link here.

Toronto is a city in crisis. COVID-19 is driving home the plight of Toronto’s homeless, the dire shortage of affordable housing and the desperation of city officials to cover a funding shortfall that’s reached historic proportions. Toronto, like all cities, is doing everything it can to recover from the global pandemic, or is it?

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PCA Celebrates 20 years as a Construction Industry Influencer

Twenty years ago, the millennium Y2K bug was a no show, Marc Garneau made his third trip into space and the New Jersey Devils won their second Stanley Cup. The turn of the century also marked the beginning of a new national construction association; the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA). Back then, PCA was a feisty industry disruptor. Now it has earned its stripes as a strong advocate for fairness and openness; an organization that has succeeded in shaping labour policies at every level of government.

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Why Premier Jason Kenney’s Skilled Trades Plan is the Right One

A competitive economy relies on far more than a post-secondary education system that turns out doctors, accountants and people who write code. It needs skilled trades men and women, including highly trained construction workers who literally help build our nation.

Canada is facing a growing crisis in its construction sector. One of the most important assets of construction employers is their skilled workforce. Statistics show that as many as 1/5 of skilled trades will evaporate from the marketplace over the next 5 to 10 years, while employment demands for this critical sector continue to rise.

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Why the Time is Right for a Career in Construction

When COVID-19 took a wrecking ball to Canada’s economy, it swung in every direction. The pandemic decimated major sectors; grounding airlines, shuttering stores and restaurants and shelving many promising careers. While the timing seems terrible for job seekers, that’s only because they’re wearing blinders. The reality is, there’s plenty of opportunity to land a career that offers good pay, job security and a chance to advance. That’s what makes the construction trades the ideal career choice for these uncertain times.

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No community benefit when taxpayers don’t get their money’s worth

No matter how many times the executive director of the Building Trades says it, that doesn’t make it true. Andrew Mercier would be hard pressed to prove that projects built under the John Horgan government’s so-called Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) are providing good public value or benefit, yet he keeps claiming, “Community Benefits Agreements ensure that projects can be delivered in a cost-effective manner that creates opportunities for local hire and apprenticeships.”

A coalition of B.C.’s largest construction associations and progressive unions has tallied the known public costs of the Horgan government’s CBA debacle so far, and it’s steep.

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Oppressive CBA regimes need to be scrapped and replaced

The goal of Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) should be to “better the lives of all Canadians.”

But if British Columbia is anything to go by, CBA-inclusive language can also be used to mask a vastly different reality.

Under the title of CBA, B.C.’s infrastructure work is the exclusive domain of a select group of Building Trades Unions (BTUs), which all workers are forced to join – and companies must abide by – if they want to work. 

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Not the Time to “Overthink” Needed Infrastructure Projects

vaccine that will help snap Canada’s economy out of its COVID-19 coma can’t come soon enough.

Until then, post-pandemic recovery will rely heavily on federal stimulus spending to reawaken our injured economy.

For policy-makers, the goal Is to identify infrastructure projects that put Canadians back to work quickly and boost spending.

Then comes the hard part: making sure red tape and competing interests don’t prevent these projects from getting out the door.

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Why the Construction Trades are the Pandemic-Proof Career Choice

o call these challenging times for job seekers would be an understatement.

COVID-19 has decimated Canada’s economy, shuttering businesses and crushing the labour market.

With two million Canadians losing their jobs last month, prospects for summer work looking bleak and all signs pointing to a slow recovery, there is a career path forward.

In times of uncertainty, the construction trades offer something that’s hard to find these days: a pandemic-proof career.

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Highway 1 widening moves ahead, but at what cost?

Call it “highway robbery.”

When the B.C. government recently announced the next phase of the Trans-Canada Highway widening, it left out one small detail.

Actually, a big one: Widening a 3.3-kilometre section of this highway through Chase will cost taxpayers $61 million more than original estimates. And that’s on top of cost overruns of $150 million for phase one.

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Why Construction is Canada’s Economic Heavy Lifter

inally, there’s reason for cautious optimism as federal and provincial governments begin to consider the gradual reopening of Canada’s battered economy.

As health officials gain confidence that COVID-19 is waning and the curve is flattening, what’s following are massive government infusions to stimulate recovery and get Canadians back to work. The fixer during times like these is our construction industry. It’s the proven heavy lifter that’s been keeping our economy moving and ready for takeoff.

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