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Canada’s Building Trades Unions

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Overview

Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU) represents over 600,000 skilled trades men and women from coast to coast. This industry is found in every town and city across Canada and our members are employed constructing virtually every road, bridge, industrial, institutional and green construction project in Canada.  We make up 15.7% of Canada’s GDP, and our industry maintains and repairs more than $2.2 trillion in assets.

Our work is not just done on site, but in a number of facilities that provide modules or other components that are incorporated into the structures that we work on. Once structures are built, we are employed in their renovation, maintenance and repurposing – including in the nuclear sector. Our members are highly trained skilled tradespeople who are the backbone of the middle class. The Unions that compose CBTU can be found on our website here.

Our member unions represent workers across the many sectors and businesses that comprise the energy sector. Simply put, Canada’s Building Trades Unions members are on the frontlines putting into practice the latest tactics and technologies to reduce energy consumption and improve the efficiency of Canada’s built environment. This improves the competitiveness of Canadian industries while putting Canadians to work. We are proud of our work because we power the economy to support what really matters: people.

At the same time, we recognize that many of the industries our members work in are changing, and need to change rapidly to reduce environmental impact.  In 2015, 197 nations signed on to the Paris Agreement committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in order to keep global warming below 2°C and to work toward 1.5°C of warming.

According to the Jobs for Tomorrow report done for the CBTU in July 2017, the global transition to a low-carbon economy required an investment of an additional US$220 billion by 2020; less than four per cent of the current total global annual investment in construction activity.

Getting to net zero in Canada will mean replacing GHG-emitting sources of power with cleaner energy. At the same time, Canada’s population is projected to grow to 48 million by 2050. That means that at that same time that we are trying to reduce GHGs from electricity production, we are trying to double our power generation by 2050. The need to decarbonize the Canadian grid is therefore critical. The construction industry has a vital role to play in meeting Canada’s climate goals by supporting production in other sectors, including Small Modular Reactors (SMR).

Our members can provide the highly-skilled, and best trained workforce for the development and maintenance of SMRs in Canada; in fact, we have thousands of members employed and doing the work in the nuclear sector already. Several provinces across Canada have shown keen interest in participating in the development of SMR technologies, including a memorandum of understanding signed between Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, to work together to build smaller nuclear reactors in an effort to reduce emissions and help fight climate change. 

SMRs can also be located very close to the point of consumption. This means less energy loss and greater efficiency. Diversity of power sources also makes towns and cities less vulnerable to blackouts, resource price shocks, and pollution.  They would provide a clean, reliable energy source to Canada’s North; reducing the current use of diesel and coal-powered generation; and be utilized in Alberta to generate heat for oil sands production.

Canada has the key components to make SMRs a success: a skilled workforce, including trades and engineering; the ability to supply and procure materials and components; and ready access to shipping for exports. Success will depend upon the timely development and deployment of the infrastructure needed to support the manufacturing and production of the technology, and the need to ensure that SMR projects, such as the one proposed by Arc Nuclear, are supported by all levels of government and fully funded.

We are currently working with industry and government stakeholders to advance and raise support for SMRs. We are eager to see the development and implementation of SMRs roll out in Canada within the next decade and will continue to provide assistance and support towards that goal, wherever possible.

ACTIONS

POLICY, LEGISLATION, AND REGULATION
Canada’s SMR Action Plan – Labour
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
CBTU01

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 4, 5, 39

ACTION

CBTU will engage with other “Team Canada” partners to develop an Action Plan that recognizes the critical role of labour and workforce development plans for SMR development and deployment.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • An Action Plan is developed that recognizes the critical role of labour and workforce development plans in developing and deploying SMRs.
  • The future SMR skilled workforce is diverse and equitably recognizes contributions from women, youth, minorities and Indigenous peoples.
  • Workforce development initiatives highlight the importance of apprenticeship training and local hiring in regards to SMRs.
  • Promote Canadian investment in SMRs.
CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Labour Engagement in the promotion and development of SMRs
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
CBTU02

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 11, 12, 24, 39, 41, 46, 53

ACTION

CBTU will continue to work with other stakeholders, including all levels of government, industry and labour organizations, to meaningful consult on and promote investment in and the timely development and deployment of SMRs.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Positive outcomes are formed in financing and establishing timelines for the development and deployment of SMRs.
  • Skilled organized labour is deployed to construct, manufacture, distribute and operate SMRs.

ACTION

CBTU will continue to promote opportunities in the skilled trades to underrepresented groups including Indigenous Peoples, women, youth and new Canadians to increase diversity and create inclusive opportunities through our Build Together program.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Entrants to the skilled trades will become more diverse, and will include highly-trained individuals ready to be employed in the SMR workforce; the skilled trades are able to draw from a diverse pool of highly skilled professionals that is fully representative of women, youth, minorities, and Indigenous persons.