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International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (Canada)

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Overview

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) founded in 1891, represents approximately 775,000 active members and retirees who work in a wide variety of fields, including utilities, construction, telecommunications, manufacturing, railroads, government,  cable, radio and television, shipyards, sound and alarm, appliance repair, motor shops, sign shops, pulp and paper mills, mining, and healthcare. We represent many members working in North America’s nuclear sector, including right here in Canada. IBEW Canada has almost 70,000 members working in every province and territory, with 81 local unions across the country.

The IBEW has a long proud history building, operating and maintaining Canada’s electrical systems, from generation, transmission, distribution to the electrification of our nation in homes, office towers, auto plants and of course our role in Canada’s nuclear sector. Together with our employer partners, we continually educate and train our members to meet the demands of today and tomorrow.

Our union has extensive experience representing workers in North America’s utility industry.  Approximately 200,000 IBEW members are directly employed to operate, maintain and provide support for the electrical utility sector in Canada and the United States. 

An additional 70,000 IBEW members are regularly involved as temporary contractors or vender specialty crews providing service and maintenance to the North American fleet of reactors. 

The IBEW International has staff devoted to nuclear matters, and each year hosts a Nuclear Conference so that our members in the nuclear industry can share operating experience and best practices. In addition, at its 39th International Convention, over 3000 IBEW delegates made a formal commitment to supporting the nuclear industry by passing Resolution #37: Support for Nuclear Energy - which included that the IBEW supports the following:

  • Continued operation and maintenance of all existing nuclear electricity generating stations in Canada and the U.S. and calls for the construction of new nuclear power stations; and
  • Partnerships between private industry and the federal government for the research and development of standardizes advanced reactor design which will improve safety, economy and performance to help meet increasing electricity demand; and
  • Partnerships between private industries and agencies that promote a well-trained workforce for the nuclear industry.

With the extensive expertise in the rapidly evolving nuclear industry gained over the past thirty plus years, we’ve shared our insights and provided valuable information to decision makers, and the public, by participating in various public hearings, panels, roundtables, and consultations, concerning the industry. The IBEW firmly believes that our highly skilled members and our organization have a central role to play in Canada’s future plans on the development, construction, deployment and operation of SMRs. The IBEW believes that the federal government should move forward to create a tripartite Canadian Nuclear Energy Advisory Council. Through the tripartite Council, management, labour unions in the nuclear industry like the IBEW, and government ministers could meet to review progress on Canada’s SMR Action Plan and discuss strategic priorities going forward.

IBEW Canada jointly sponsors the National Electrical Trade Council (NETCO) which is an industry-funded, non-profit organization that provides national coordination and leadership on workforce development linked to Red Seal electrical trades in Canada. NETCO is jointly sponsored by the Canadian Electrical Contractors Association (CECA)--a federation of provincial and territorial electrical contractor groups that represents +8,000 electrical contractors who directly employ 70,000 people and generates over $5 billion in revenues. 

NETCO is committed to the promotion of national standards and best practices among training and educational providers, specifically union training centres, that deliver recognized technical training for apprentices and journeypersons in the IBEW and CECA communities.

One of the many advantages of the IBEW is that we are an international union. Although we are based in North America, we regularly meet with other electrical unions from around the world through the organization known as the Global Power Trade Unions. This vehicle is an excellent way for the IBEW to promote our work beyond Canada and with our union colleagues from around the world. We can share our best practices and the Team Canada approach, while advocating for Canadian SMR technology.

SMRs have the potential to be a source of clean, safe and affordable energy, creating opportunities for a resilient, low-carbon future and capturing benefits for Canada and Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

The success of SMR’s will should be measured and tracked by several indicators including the reduction of GHG emissions, grid stability by adding baseload electricity, the direct and indirect jobs, as well as other environmental, economic and social impacts it creates. This starts with a fulsome Team Canada approach that includes having the participation of labour unions in the nuclear industry like the IBEW.

IBEW Canada fully supports the principles outlined in Canada’s SMR Action Plan. We believe that this is evident through our comments provided above in the overview, our thorough list of actions listed below, and the variety of partnerships we continue to work with in the nuclear industry and beyond. 

Actions

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

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 04

ACTIONS

Public and private decisions are informed by a strategic, action-oriented plan. The IBEW will provide input from a labour perspective to the Federal Government on the SMR Action Plan as applicable.

The plan respects and builds on the respective roles and responsibilities of essential enabling partners, such as labour unions like the IBEW, and sets out timelines for action to maximize benefits to Canada.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Canada should emerge as a leader in the development, demonstration and deployment of SMR’s with the support of various integral industry partners in the nuclear industry, including labour.

POLICY, LEGISLATION AND REGULATION
Ensure clean energy programming is open to nuclear energy
STATUS: IN PROGRESS

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 09

ACTIONS

As Canada looks to reduce our GHG emissions and meet our climate change goals, the IBEW believes that it is an important initiative and we will continue to advocate for nuclear energy to be placed on equal footing and included in federal and provincial government planning, programming and policies in support of clean and non-emitting energy sources.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Further discussions and education of governments and the public on the important role nuclear energy can play in a clean energy future along with other clean energy sources.

DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
SMR demonstration projects
STATUS: IN PROGRESS

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 16

ACTIONS

The IBEW and several of our local unions from various parts of the country have been supportive in advocating for the safe operation of one or more demonstration SMRs to be constructed and operating in Canada.

The IBEW has been advocating for SMR’s through various channels, including our work with the Canadian Nuclear Workers Council and the Canadian Nuclear Association.

We believe that Canada is positioned to capture research benefits and value of these earlier-stage SMR technologies. This will also provide good paying, highly skilled jobs for workers in the regions in which these SMRs are built and put into commission.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Governments at various levels work towards and an agreement(s) on sites that can host SMR demonstration projects. Collaboration between government, industry and labour work together to support these host demonstration sites.

POLICY, LEGISLATION AND REGULATION
Nuclear energy in climate change and clean energy planning
STATUS: IN PROGRESS

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 18

ACTIONS

The IBEW and our several of our local unions have been advocating at the provincial level so that climate change and clean energy policies are aligned with, and support, the development of innovative, low-carbon nuclear energy technologies across all interested provinces and territories in Canada.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Provinces and territories that have expressed interest or are interested in the future of SMRs through consultation with industry stakeholders, labour unions and the public, develop public policy statements to explicitly include nuclear energy in climate change and clean energy planning and policies

DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Site preparation for SMR demonstrations
STATUS: IN PROGRESS

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 26

ACTIONS

IBEW members work at a variety of AECL and CNL sites and are currently working with their respective employers to prepare for potential demonstration of SMR technology in Canada.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Sites are prepared so that enabling work in the areas of research and development and environmental assessment can be facilitated to ensure that they can host SMR demonstration units.

CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Promoting diversity in the future SMR workforce
STATUS: IN PROGRESS

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 39, 49

ACTIONS

The IBEW has been working to increase the diversity in our membership and that of the workforce of our employer partners. One program we have is targeted to young workers which is called the IBEW NextGen initiative which has been running for over a decade. 

We have just launched our “IBEW Strong” initiative which is the result of several months of work by our International Diversity and Full Inclusion Committee.

The vision statement is “The IBEW will be a union that welcomes, supports and encourages diversity in our membership and leadership.

We work to organize, fully respect and include all workers, regardless of our identity differences, in order to build a strong and indivisible IBEW for our families and our communities.”

EXPECTED RESULTS

The IBEW will have more underrepresented workers entering our membership and the workforce as we strive to ensure that we are diverse and representative of our country and communities—including women, youth, minorities, Indigenous persons and veterans.

CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Training programs and education curriculum
STATUS: IN PROGRESS

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 48

ACTIONS

Develop analysis of current training programs and aid with the re-tooling of current technical training to include SMRs.

Develop practical opportunities for students/apprentices for SMR development.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Through the IBEW’s joint national training council (NETCO) we will work in collaboration with private training institutions (unions), universities, colleges, polytechnics, research institutions, and laboratories to ensure training and education programs are directed toward building a future SMR workforce.