HFIAW leaders attend 2023 CBTU Conference

Several members of the HFIAW General Executive  Board and other union leaders were able to attend the 2023 Canadian Building Trades Union (CBTU) Conference held in Gatineau, Quebec, from May 8-10.

General President Terrance M. Larkin, General Secretary-Treasurer Robert W. Reap, Mid-Atlantic Conference International Vice President (IVP) Brian S. Cavey, New York/New England IVP James R. Lister, Canadian Conference (Western) IVP Wade P. Logan, Canadian Conference (Eastern) IVP Paul M. Faulkner and Western States Conference IVP Ricky J. Johnson joined leaders from various Canadian Local Unions for the annual event. 

Canadian Conference (Western) International Vice President Logan explained why the conference is important.

“The Western Canada Conference appreciates the opportunity to participate in the 2023 CBTU conference,” he said. “This conference allows our Western Business Managers and me to speak to our elected leaders about  the benefits of Mechanical Insulation, as well as meet and maintain connections with our Union Brothers and Sisters  to work for the common benefits of our members.”

Plenary Day 1

The first-day plenary featured several notable speakers addressing various topics related to immigration, workforce development and the partnership between the U.S. and Canada.

The Honourable Sean Fraser P.C., M.P., Minister of  Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, emphasized the importance of immigration to the Canadian economy and the need to expedite the process of welcoming newcomers. He discussed the government's efforts to increase immigration levels and collaborate with provincial governments on regional programs to benefit communities across the country. 

Sean McGarvey, President of NABTU, thanked the CBTU for their dedication to the building trades industry. He highlighted recent legislative victories and emphasized the importance of fighting for stronger standards in wages, workforce development and diversity programs in both the U.S. and Canada.

CBTU Executive Director Sean Strickland discussed various workforce development initiatives, including the "In the Trades" and Women Apprentices programs. He also addressed labor supply challenges and stressed the need to prioritize immigration and changes to the temporary foreign worker program.

Daniel Blaikie, M.P. of the New Democratic Party, spoke to delegates about the importance of building strong relationships and the party's efforts to push for policy changes that benefit working people. 

Strickland then returned to the stage for a Q-n-A session with Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the New Democratic Party. Subjects covered included labor conditions attached to tax credits, the need for a legal framework for PharmaCare and anti-racism legislation. 

Johanne Senecal, External Relations and Indigenous Affairs Representative with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, highlighted the role Canada’s conventional oil and gas sector plays in the global energy supply. She also emphasized the need to maintain market share.

The Honourable Carla Qualtrough P.C., M.P., Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability  Inclusion, talked to the delegates about the importance of skilled trades in the Canadian economy and the need to address labor shortages. She also outlined government initiatives to support apprenticeships, grants and diversity in the skilled trades.

U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Cohen was next. He emphasized the strong partnership between the United States and Canada and the U.S. commitment to rebuilding and strengthening both economies. He highlighted President Biden's support for union workers and the importance of collaboration in clean energy initiatives among the skilled trades. 

He also discussed the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act and its potential to accelerate the clean energy transition and grow union jobs. He reassured the crowd that concerns about U.S. protectionism were misplaced and emphasized the robust trade relationship between the two countries.

After lunch, Pierre Poilievre P.C., M.P., the Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, addressed the delegates,  thanking the CBTU and the contributions by various trades across the country.

Poilievre discussed the Party’s plan to address the mounting cost of living, including curbing government expenditures and reducing reliance on high-priced consultants. He advocated for eliminating the carbon tax and emphasized the need for powerful paychecks and tax fairness. He also discussed housing affordability,  the revitalization of the resource sector and support for the trades.

Following Poilievre, Colin Guldimann, an economist from RBC, discussed the role of the RBC Climate Action  Institute in Canada’s transition to a net zero economy. He highlighted the need for new technologies, innovations and behavioral changes needed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Guldimann also presented research on green jobs and emphasized the challenges and opportunities in Canada’s built environment, particularly in the housing and commercial sectors. He mentioned the forecasted labor shortage in the construction industry and the importance of apprenticeships and attracting underutilized labor pools.

Closing out the Day 1 speakers was James Hogarth, the National Executive Director of Helmets to Hardhats Canada, who shared the organization's mission to support the military community and find second careers in unionized skilled trades. The organization can help address the labor shortages in the construction industry, he added. 

A Parliamentarian Reception took place after the Day 1 speakers. This allowed HFIAW members to mingle with other building trades members and Canadian parliamentarians. Several members took advantage of this occasion to speak with various Ministers regarding the challenges confronting Mechanical Insulators in Canada. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined the reception and briefly addressed the attendees. Canadian Affairs Director Adam Melnick and Local 95 Business Agent John Swart were able to speak briefly with Trudeau. 

"The 2023 CBTU conference was an important event by leaders from both the U.S. and Canada," said Melnick. "It was clear that over the past two years, Canada's Building Trades Union and its affiliates have been able to step up and position themselves at the forefront in providing collaboration, innovation and solutions to the challenges Canada faces when tackling climate change through both new construction and our current built environment. 

Plenary Day 2

The second plenary was held on the final day of the Conference. It commenced with Jean Boulet, M.A.N. Minister of Labour, highlighting the construction industry's crucial role in the Canadian economy. 

He emphasized the need to develop programs for equal access to attract individuals from marginalized groups and immigrants. Boulet also stressed the importance of technology, training and modernizing occupational health and safety regulations to create a competitive and safe environment for construction workers. 

Next was Michele Harradence, Executive Vice President and President of Gas Distribution at Enbridge. She reflected on her career in the energy industry and Enbridge's contributions to energy infrastructure in Canada. 

She emphasized the need for a smart energy transition, leveraging existing infrastructure and embracing diverse energy sources. 

The conference then switched to a panel discussion to explore the opportunities Canada's nuclear sector can play in the country's transition to net-zero emissions. 

The discussion centered around advancing project deployments, job creation and the role of nuclear energy in achieving clean energy goals. The panel featured Ontario Power Generation (OPG) representatives, New Brunswick Power and Bruce Power, who shared insights into their organizations' initiatives. 

Following the panel discussion, Strickland returned for another Q-n-A with Ehren Cory from the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB). Cory began by explaining CIB's role as a public-private partnership financing infrastructure projects in Canada. 

CIB aims to address the funding gap for transportation, broadband, clean power and green infrastructure projects that cannot be financed traditionally. 

Cory highlighted the job creation potential of CIB's investments and the ability to foster partnerships between the public and private sectors. 

Shannon Joseph, Chair of Energy for a Secure Future, spoke next to highlight the importance of energy security and Canada's role in the future of energy. The presentation touched on the need to consider global energy security, the environment and job creation. 

President of Pathways Alliance, Kendall Dilling, came to the stage to discuss collaborating with oil companies to decarbonize production. Dilling emphasized the role of carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a crucial technology for heavy industries worldwide. Canada's geological suitability for CCS was highlighted, particularly in the oil sands region. 

The final speaker was Trent Vichie, CEO of Everwind Fuels, who focused on efforts to preserve jobs while transitioning to clean energy. The company's focus on green hydrogen and ammonia projects as well as the importance of maintaining a skilled workforce, were stressed. 

Strickland concluded the Conference by thanking the delegates for attending and then announced that future conferences would start on April 28, Workers' Memorial Day.

General President Larkin said it was an honor to attend the 2023 CBTU Conference.

"This gathering brings together industry leaders, union representatives and advocates for the building trades in Canada," he said. 

All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability or validity of any information on this blog, any responses or comments posted on this blog or any information found on any link on this site. International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied workers will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers reserves the right, without notice, to edit, delete or refrain from posting any blog responses or comments or portions thereof that International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers deems to be offensive, derogatory, abusive or threatening in any way. This policy disclaimer is subject to change at any time.