At its most recent planning meeting in Ottawa on Aug. 17, the National Trade Contractors Coalition of Canada (NTCCC) broke new ground by adding two priorities for support this and next year, NTCCC says in a news release.
“The perennial issue of addressing payment delays in Canada’s construction sector remains the key focus of the coalition, but members agreed there is a need to support two equity issues that have come to the forefront,” NTCCC says.
The NTCCC is offering its support to Bill C-243, a private members bill brought forward by Mark Gerretsen, Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands. If passed the bill will legislate the development of a national maternity assistance program strategy and will make amendments to the Employment Insurance Act with respect to maternity benefits.
“Our member organizations have been encouraging opportunities to attract more women to the skilled trades in Canada,” said Sandra Skivsky of the Canadian Masonry Contractors Association. “By creating earlier access to maternity benefits under the Employment Insurance program if a woman needs that time we’re creating a win-win for workers and employers.” Bill C-243 will ensure more flexibility for expectant mothers whose medical needs would take them away from the workplace, without extending the term of available benefits.
NTCCC will support for another measure concerning Employment Insurance and apprentices. Apprentices face an urgent need to access Employment Insurance during periods between employment when their training takes place, the support is crucial to encourage higher completion rates of apprenticeship programs. “Governments at all levels need to get money flowing more quickly to apprentices accessing employment insurance during in-school apprenticeship training. We’ll be encouraging the federal government to put that pressure on the provinces, and to make it easier for apprentices to get their journeyperson designations more quickly to address skills shortages in Canada,” said Richard McKeagan, CEO of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada.
The fall strategy session concluded with a meeting between NTCCC and representatives from Public Services and Procurement Canada, the primary department concerned with construction contracts tendered by the federal government.
This meeting gave NTCCC an opportunity to discuss how payment delays negatively impact small businesses and tradespeople, decrease employment in the construction sector, drive prices up for owners, and limit apprenticeship opportunities for young workers looking to practice their trade.
“We were very grateful for the opportunity to share the perspectives of trade contractors from coast-to-coast with the people who make and carry out construction and contract policy decisions for the government on a daily basis,” said John Galt, chairman of NTCCC and president of the Canadian Automatic Sprinkler Association. “Meetings like this are exactly why NTCCC exists, it demonstrates the importance of working together and shows how influential we can be.”