Canadian Roofing Contractors’ Association (CRCA) members gather in Halifax for annual conference and general meeting

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Canadian Design and Construction Report special feature

Canadian Roofing Contractors’ Association (CRCA) members will gather in Halifax May 28 through 30 for the association’s 57th Annual Conference and Annual General Meeting.

The busy weekend schedule includes a variety of sightseeing opportunities, as well as a strong educational component. CRCA executive director Bob Brunet says it has been 20 years since the event was hosted in Halifax so both opportunities should be well attended by members.

Seminars include Roofing 101 with CRCA technical manager Wendy Fraser and a wind design and CSA session with CRCA technical director Peter Kalinger.

Legal issues will be discussed including labour and human resources challenges, presented by Malcolm Boyle, a lawyer with McInnese Cooper, and construction contract liabilities and risks, presented by Geoff Saudners, with Wickwire Holme.

The event’s keynote speaker will be Pete Luckett, entrepreneur and organizational change-agent who will address the gathering with a talk titled Turning Buyers into Believers as part of the annual awards luncheon.

Brunet says information sessions will be informative and invaluable to the industry in meeting its ongoing and newly evolving challenges. “Skilled labour shortages and demographic forces are reshaping the roofing industry’s workforce,” he said. “Our workers are getting older and trying to attract the younger generation is a challenge we continue to face.”

Brunet says labour supply will continue to be an issue until a basic mindset change occurs. He says construction careers are still seen as a second or third choice to the younger generation. This is unfortunate because the perception is incorrect.

“Anyone opting for a trade career can look forward to a challenging career with excellent opportunities for advancement,” he said. “Students entering a career in the trade sector will usually enter the workplace with much less debt than if he or she was coming out of university.”

He says it is important for people to understand that roofing has become more complex and requires a different skill set than in the past with less reliance on physical work and more on mental efforts.

“Workers must be skilled in areas such as quality assurance when working with single ply technologies,” he said. “Continuous training and development of our employees and allowing them to grow and progress within the industry will be a key.”

He says there is potential help through the federal government’s Canada Job Grant. Brunet says the program, administered by each province, helps employers train new or existing employees for jobs that need to be filled.

Another challenge he cites is the evolution of CoR (Certificate of Recognition) which he expects will become mandatory throughout Ontario and is currently being phased in through a multi-stage approach in Toronto.

The City of Toronto’s website shows that stage one was an official communication from the city which took place in January 2016. Phase two, to begin in January 2017, says all projects greater than $25 million will require contractors and subcontractors to have CoR certification. In phase three, set for January 2018, the standard will apply to projects between $10 million and $25 million. Phase four, scheduled for January 2019, will require all projects, including architectural and engineering consultation, will be bound to CoR certification.

Brunet says that although the move will, among other challenges, create a huge time and cost commitment for members – the benefits of becoming CoR certified speak for themselves.

While technological improvements are intended to make things easier and improve quality, these are also creating challenges for contractors. Brunet says everything from GPS technology to BIM (Building Information Modelling) to modularization of roofing components “has and will continue to impact our contractors.”

In addition, increased competition, and not only from outside of Canada, is a concern. “Our industry has to be aware of inter-provincial competition as well. Workers will continue to be mobile and relocate to where the work is and in Canada the hot spots are mainly in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, parts of Ontario and Newfoundland.”

“On a national basis the number one priority in the workplace is worker safety and it will continue to be. Along with that, occupancy safety is also becoming very important when you are doing work on a building that is occupied.”

For more information about CRCA, visit www.roofingcanada.com.

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