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Construction Sector Leads Alberta Job Growth in 2023-24

The Alberta government has released their latest report on labour market trends, based on data from Statistics Canada. Below are some of the key highlights and trends that are shaping Alberta’s labour landscape. One of the standout findings is the strong year-over-year job growth in the construction industry. Our sector has been the leading contributor to the province’s employment gains, with 12,767 more Albertans employed in the sector in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period in 2023. This is welcome news to our members and workers. At the same time Alberta’s average weekly earnings were $1,297.76, showing a 2.5% year-over-year increase, indicating positive income growth for workers. In addition, the job vacancy rate in Alberta stood at 3.4%, reflecting a very competitive labour market. For 2023, the average annual job vacancy rate in Alberta came in at 4.2% compared to 4.8% in 2022 and 2.6% in 2019. The strong economy in our province continues to attract people to come west and fill the available jobs. Alberta has led Canada in population growth, up 4.4 per cent from a year ago. International migration contributed two-thirds of the overall provincial population gains. We also saw the highest net

The labour gap: Seed vs. Sod

Last week the CLRA rolled out our Seed vs. Sod thought leadership piece, where President Joe McFadyen discusses the merits, risks and rewards of attracting skilled workers to Alberta versus educating and training them here. Alberta is looking at about $22B in investments into our energy industry between now and 2030. Conservative estimates from Statistics Canada, BuildForce Canada, and many other industry groups and economic forecasters suggest this will create demand for more than 20,000 new jobs in the construction trades. This is a generational challenge, and Alberta will need multiple solutions to solve it. CLRA is working closely with the government, industry employers, and trades groups to support initiatives that will help attract and retain existing skilled trades workers and educate and train new young workers in the industry. We are committed to being part of the Alberta solution: from seed to sod.

Our website has a new look!

The Construction Labour Relations Alberta website has a new look! From streamlining our content, modernizing our style, to improving functionality, we like keeping things fresh. Check out our new site here:

International Women’s Day 2024

The Government of Canada’s theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Invest in women: accelerate progress.” CLRA stands behind improved access and opportunities for women to succeed in the skilled trades, with the goal to build a better future for themselves, the province, and the country. Today, we celebrate skilled tradeswomen that build and maintain our province. An organization that has partnered with CLRA in the past is Women Building Futures (WBF). WBF provides free training programs, career coaching, mentorship opportunities, and overall support for women wanting to enter careers in the skilled trades, trucking, and related fields. CLRA contractors have previously hired WBF graduates and are committed to empowering women to thrive in the construction industry. We encourage women to explore the rewarding world of trades careers. An excellent place to start looking is our new Work Alberta Trades website which offers women interested in trades information on career options, education opportunities, financial aid, and more. Happy International Women’s Day!

Bonnie Smith Presents at ACR AGM

CLRA Board Chair Bonnie Smith presented today at the Alberta Chamber of Resources AGM at the Edmonton Convention Centre. Smith discussed ways that Construction Labour Relations Alberta strives for innovation in a challenging labour market during the AGM’s afternoon panel. Presenting alongside Smith on the panel were Business Council of Alberta’s Economist and Manager of Policy Alicia Planincic, and the President of NAIT, Laura Jo Gunter. During her presentation Bonnie highlighted CLRA’s latest initiative through the Education – Work Alberta Trades campaign, to attract youth into the skilled trades in Alberta. Smith also shared CLRA’s success story of last year’s collective agreement settlements with skilled trade unions, which continues to help make Alberta among the most competitive job markets in the country in the construction industry.

Province Offers $5,000 Bonus To Attract New Skilled Trades Workers

The recent Budget 2024 announcement by the Alberta government included another incentive to attract skilled trades to move here. Finance Minister Nate Horner introduced the latest chapter of the province’s ‘Alberta is Calling’ campaign, which will offer a one-time $5,000 attraction bonus to eligible skilled trades workers. A total of $10 million is dedicated to the effort, designed to help 2,000 new workers relocate to Alberta beginning in the spring. Criteria for receiving the bonus include working full-time in high in demand trades, filing 2024 taxes in Alberta, and living in the province for at least 12 months. More information on the attraction bonus – both the application process and eligibility criteria – will be made available in the coming weeks. Budget 2024 reinforced the government’s vision to develop a workforce that meets the province’s short and long-term labour market needs. Altogether, the budget allocated $100 million in new funding toward apprenticeship programs, which includes the addition of over 3,000 apprenticeship seats in post-secondary institutions over the next year. Read all the budget highlights here, or more about the attraction bonus here.

Canadians are moving to Alberta in droves. How affordable is the province for homebuyers?

A recent report by Re/Max Canada continues to showcase that Alberta’s favourable tax environment and lower housing prices are attracting a rising number of Canadians – particularly from provinces like Ontario and British Columbia – to settle out West. The report found that tax rate increases, record-high housing values, and mortgage rates have led to a post-pandemic exodus from the country’s most expensive markets, with a significant uptick in interprovincial migration to Alberta. Specifically, Alberta welcomed a little over 45,000 people last year, doubling the numbers seen in 2022 according to Statistics Canada. The highest influx of new Albertans in the third quarter came from Ontario, followed by B.C., Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. This trend of West-bound migration isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon. CLRA is working in partnership with the province to attract skilled workers to address the labour demands for our growing economy. We hope that our upcoming education-focused campaign will encourage more Albertan youth – as well as adults changing careers – to consider pursuing the trades for long-term, well-paying, meaningful work. Read the full National Post article here.

Construction Boot Camp

Women Building Futures is offering a free, 4-week Construction Bootcamp in Calgary this spring from April 8 until May 3. This program presents an excellent opportunity for women in search of promising career opportunities in the ever-growing construction and maintenance industries. Students will receive basic safety certifications, learn how to read blueprints, and get hands-on skills training, amongst other relevant workplace skills. Financial aid, mentorship opportunities, and connections to future employers are additional benefits. Graduates will be interviewed for entry-level roles with program partners, and thus likely to secure relevant employment opportunities upon graduation. The deadline to apply is Feb. 29. Learn more about the program and how to register here:

Government Support For More Apprenticeship Seats

Alberta has announced significant support for the skilled trades sector today in a pre-budget news release indicating the government will create 3,200 additional apprenticeship seats at 11 post-secondary institutions across the province. These additional spaces are much needed to address the ever-growing industry demand for skilled workers in our economy. Today’s announcement by Advanced Education Minister Rajan Sawhney would see the government invest an additional $24 million per year over the next three years. This brings the total funding for apprenticeship training to $78 million for the 2024-25 academic year. With a significant portion of Alberta’s skilled tradespeople entering retirement in the coming 5-10 years, the need to train and employ thousands of new apprentices is more urgent than ever, particularly as the provincial population continues to grow. The CLRA agrees with Minister Sawhney of Advanced Education: “Investing in apprenticeship education will supply Albertans with in-demand skills, nurture homegrown talent and support our labour market with world-class skilled tradespeople who keep our economy moving.” CLRA is doing our part to address this issue with by encouraging students to consider a career in skilled trades through our and #BuildYourFuture public education campaign. Read the government’s full announcement here.

Skilled Trades Shortages – and Opportunities

Matthew Lindberg, dean of NAIT’s School of Skilled Trades, recently announced that apprenticeship enrolments at NAIT are growing. So much so, in fact, that the number of people pursuing apprenticeships is at the highest level since 2014. This is a welcome fillip given the growing number of retirement-aged workers are outpacing the supply of new, working-age, labour market-ready participants. The good news is that people are sensing opportunities in the trades, and colleges are expanding facilities and enrolments to meet the need. NAIT’s Skilled Trades program, for example, is planning for an expected 12% increase in enrolments in the coming year that will go on to help support industry needs and meet apprenticeship demands. Underpinning this growth in interest in the trades is a healthy provincial economy, bolstered by steady population growth and significant construction projects underway in the province. Last year, to address increasing infrastructure needs, the Alberta government announced $15 million in funding to increase the number of apprenticeship opportunities across various trades. Elsewhere, Lindberg has also commended the new Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship Education Act, which improves access to highly sought-after apprenticeship positions. Furthermore, NAIT’s Accelerated Trade Entry program and the Next In Trades event series helps

Board Chair New Year Address to Members

Dear Members, Another year has passed, and with it, a time for reflection of what has been achieved, and anticipation for the year to come. As the Chair of CLRA, I’m pleased to share our progress in 2023 and highlight what our members can look forward to in 2024. Our proudest achievement in 2023 is undoubtedly the finalization of outstanding Collective Agreements with all BTA trade divisions, with a term date of April 30, 2025.  Our success has resulted in Alberta offering some of the nation’s most competitive wages and labour jobs, which will ensure our industry’s health.  However, these agreements are due for renewal in April 2025 which means CLRA must begin now to prepare for bargaining to officially begin  in a little more than a year. We will share more information with our members on these plans as they become available in the months ahead. To that end, CLRA will continue to lobby government officials on key policy areas to support our work on behalf of employers in the construction sector. This includes protecting and enhancing Alberta’s construction registration bargaining system, addressing double-breasting, and streamlining the Common Employer Application process. To say that the province is growing is

Go West: Alberta is Still Calling

In a year end interview with the Calgary Herald’s Chris Varcoe, Premier Danielle Smith is confident that Alberta’s population will keep growing after two record-breaking years of growth. Last year, Alberta added nearly 200,000 newcomers to reach 4.7 million residents, reflecting a 4.3% annual growth rate. The province’s reasonably priced housing market, wealth of work opportunities, low cost of living, and overall high quality of life are fuelling population growth. Further, large-scale industrial and agricultural projects from companies like Dow, Inter Pipeline, Keyera, and Nutrien amongst others, drive continued investment from employers, workers, and businesses alike. The Premier put it this way: “We need skilled workers. We know that being able to manage growth means that we’ve got to get more boilermakers and millwrights and electricians and welders — and this is going to be our opportunity to tell the rest of the country that we love the professions and the trades, and we want you here.” The province is planning another phase of the Alberta is Calling campaign in 2024 to attract skilled workers to the province. Read the full article here.

Resource Diversification Council hosts government reception with Premier, Cabinet, and Caucus

On Monday, November 27 the CLRA joined with our partners in the Resource Diversification Council (RDC) to host Premier Danielle Smith, her cabinet members, and fellow MLA colleagues to the RDC’s first-ever government reception event held at the Queen Elizabeth II building in Edmonton. During the evening, RDC members shared information with the provincial government about the significant benefits Alberta receives from investment in the provinces diversified petrochemical sector. The Premier relayed the government of Alberta’s efforts to support the sector through investment tax credits, the need to attract and sustain a skilled labour workforce, and Alberta’s policies to reduce and manage carbon emissions from industry. CLRA President Joe McFadyen and Board Chair Bonnie Smith had the opportunity to meet and speak with the Minister of Energy and Minerals, Brian Jean, and the Minister of Jobs, Economy and Trade, Matt Jones. They shared our efforts to strengthen Alberta’s skilled labour force by highlighting our marketing initiatives, including the CLRA’s #BuildYourFutureInAlberta campaign. Overall, the reception was a key opportunity for the CLRA to highlight to the Alberta government and RDC’s regional stakeholders, the valuable contributions that a reliable, stable, and highly skilled workforce can bring to economic development.  We look forward to

Alberta adds 15,700 construction jobs in November

Alberta’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.9% in November 2023, up 0.1% from the previous month and up 0.2% points from the same month last year. Employment rose in seven out of 16 industries compared to the previous month. The industries with the most employment gains were construction; public administration; and health care and social assistance. Alberta’s unemployment rate was the fifth lowest in Canada. The national unemployment rate at 5.8% was 0.1% higher than the previous month. Click here for the full report about Alberta’s latest labour statistics. 

CLRA President statement on Dow investment

The CLRA joins stakeholders across Alberta’s industrial heartland and congratulates Dow for its recently announced investment of nearly CAD 9 billion to build the world’s first net-zero ethylene facility in Fort Saskatchewan.  Our organization and the unionized construction companies we represent are proud to continue our long-standing relationship with Dow, which spans nearly as far back as the 60 years Dow has operated in the Fort Saskatchewan area. Our partnership has been successful because of CLRA’s relationships with unions and employers. We are trusted to negotiate fairly and in good faith. Through this approach, we have helped create a prolonged period of stability without strikes or lockouts. We have negotiated some of the most competitive agreements in Canada to attract the best tradespeople to Alberta.   According to a recent report by BuildForce Canada prepared for the Resource Diversification Council, the Dow facility is among six planned projects from companies, including Inter Pipeline, Keyera, NOVA Chemicals, Nutrien and Pembina Pipeline. Together, these projects will create 20,250 construction jobs between 2023 and 2030 and nearly 660 operational jobs. These are high-wage careers for construction workers across all unionized building trades – especially electricians, carpenters and scaffolders, steamfitters and pipefitters and labourers. These

CLRA holds successful 53rd AGM

Our valued industry partners, stakeholders, and members gathered together at our annual AGM, which took place at Edmonton’s exclusive Derrick Golf & Winter Club on Tuesday, November 21. Over 50 members were in attendance, and 11 individuals spoke at the podium throughout the day. We were fortunate to welcome a sensational panel of presenters, from CLRA staff and board members to representatives from the Alberta government, ATB Financial and other heavyweights in the political and public communications sphere. In fact, the Minister of Jobs, Economy, and Trade, Matt Jones, opened the event with his greetings from the provincial government. He discussed both the challenges and opportunities Alberta faces in the wake of the skilled labour shortage, including the cross-Canada trades recruitment drive to help fill the gap. Mark Parsons, ATB Financial’s VP and Chief Economist, expanded on the Alberta Advantage, highlighting how Alberta is well-positioned to compete in the global economy due to its record population growth and energy resources. Seth McVeity from the Centre for Suicide Prevention showcased how the historically male-dominated construction industry could learn to look after each other through the Buddy Up system, a men’s suicide prevention program. Lee Funke and Brookes Merritt from Torque Communications

Remembrance Day

Today the staff at Construction Labour Relations Alberta pauses our operations for Remembrance Day to observe a day of reflection and gratitude for all who have honoured our country with their service. “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself”, wrote American professor, Joseph Campbell, in 1949 as he reflected upon the legacy of heroes in the wake of both World Wars. These are the concepts inextricably linked in the public consciousness on Remembrance Day – of selflessness, determination, courage – in rising up to help others, often at great cost, often for little in return. It is easy to forget that the social freedoms we enjoy today are hinged upon the personal freedoms that were staked upon the altar of conflict. This is why we choose to remember our veterans, both past and present: World War I: 66,944 Canadians died with over 172,000 wounded World War II: 45,300 Canadians died with over 55,000 wounded Korean War: 516 Canadians died with 1,042 wounded Afghanistan War: 158 Canadians died with 635 wounded The 97,625 Canadians reported as serving in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) This weekend, spend some time learning about these brave

Business Council of Alberta Economic Report

Mixed signals on the growth potential of the Albertan economy The Business Council of Alberta’s latest quarterly report speaks to current markers in the provincial economy, exploring recent trends in wage growth, consumer inflation, labour force, GDP rates, and business conditions, among other topics. On a positive note, the report highlights that average wages in Alberta grew faster than both the rate of inflation and the national average, reaching upwards of 5.7%. In particular, earnings of women, historically a laggard, caught up with that of men. Offsetting this wage growth, however, was the stubborn and lagging effect of inflation, particularly in the categories of food and shelter. Food prices remain persistently high and housing affordability continues to be a challenge, particularly in Calgary. This, in turn, is driving changes in consumer spending behaviour, with people switching to cheaper options and postponing large purchases. A further shock was the 35,000+ jobs lost across the province in September – by many accounts the largest drop in recent memory. Despite this, the labour market has remained resilient, with unemployment stable and job vacancies falling since their peak in 2022. Nationally, while GDP growth started brightly in early 2023, it has slowed to a

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Recognizing National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

At the CLRA, our mission revolves around building – not just structures, but relationships and communities as well. Today, as we recognize Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we want to emphasize the importance of building bridges of understanding and compassion with our Indigenous neighbours. The legacy of residential schools is a deep scar in Canada’s history. These institutions, which aimed to assimilate, have left a lasting impact on generations of Indigenous families. On this day, we wear orange in recognition of Phyllis Webstad, who had her new orange shirt taken away on her first day of school, and all the other children who were stripped of their identities, culture, and sometimes, their lives. As an integral part of Alberta’s economy and community, the construction industry has a pivotal role to play in the reconciliation process. We have the tools, resources and the collective will to contribute positively. By acknowledging the past and understanding its implications, we forge partnerships with Indigenous communities that are based on respect, trust and mutual growth. Today, and every day, let’s remember and reflect. Let’s be reminded that every child matters, every community matters, and every act of reconciliation, no matter

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Workforce Development Trust Contributes $125K to Apprenticeship Training

[Edmonton, Alberta, September 25, 2023] – The Workforce Development Trust (WFDT) has contributed $125,000 to The Educational Partnership Foundation (TEPF) in its first of four scheduled donations this fiscal year. This donation supports the Trades Career Program, enabling students aged 16 and above to explore careers in the skilled trades. Since 2015, the WFDT contributes an average of $475,000 annually to TEPF. Today’s contribution coincides with the second annual Alberta Apprenticeship Day. Managed by Construction Labour Relations Alberta (CLRA) and the Building Trades of Alberta (BTA) the WFDT receives funding from construction contractors who contribute 2 cents for every hour worked by skilled trades under CLRA/BTA/GPMC collective agreements.  The contribution reflects the two organizations’ dedication to bolstering educational and apprenticeship opportunities within the province. Since its inception, the WFDT has contributed more than $1.93 million to TEPF towards their Trades Career Program. “The contribution comes at a crucial time when support for apprenticeship and skilled trades education is more important than ever. TEPF, with its mission to mobilize innovative educational partnerships and provide Alberta’s students with the right tools to thrive, is the ideal recipient for this contribution,” said Joe McFadyen, President of CLRA. “Our current generation of workers are

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CLRA President Discusses Industry Challenges and Opportunities at Building Trades of Alberta Conference

The Building Trades of Alberta Conference held an engaging panel discussion to delve into the challenges, strategies and the future landscape of Alberta’s construction industry. Mark Wahl from Nova effectively steered the conversation as the moderator, with participants Terry Parker from BTA, Brett McKenzie from GPMC/NMC, Shandra Linder from AMCC and Joe McFadyen from CLRA. CLRA President, Joe McFadyen, provided insightful answers, emphasizing the steps CLRA is taking to improve the sector and the challenges and opportunities ahead: Enhancing Workplace Safety: The construction sectors commitment to ensure the safety of its workforce was discussed. CLRA has implemented three specific programs addressing workplace safety, mental health and other supports, including the CMAC program, which aids workers grappling with drug and alcohol addiction, the CEFAP program, which extends family supports, and the RSAP program, focusing on safely reinstating individuals back into their jobs. Additionally, the Better Supervision program was discussed, a CLRA and BTA initiative, which aims to help develop managerial and leadership skills. The Canadian Model’s online program further bolsters these initiatives. Promoting Trades & Attracting Talent: The critical role of the skilled trades in the industry’s future was explored. CLRA has taken an approach to actively influence provincial policy that

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ATB Financial upgrades Alberta’s GDP forecast to 2.7%

ATB Financial recently provided an updated economic outlook on Alberta’s GDP growth. Thanks to a resurgence in the energy sector and the addition of over 200,000 new residents since the previous summer – an increase comparable to double the population of Red Deer – the province’s GDP growth projection for 2023 has been increased to 2.7%, a jump from the earlier 2.4% prediction. This boost paints a promising picture for the current year, especially when recalling the past challenges Alberta faced, ranging from the oil price crash in 2014-15, market access issues in 2019, to the global pandemic in 2020. As ATB Financials’ chief economist, Mark Parsons, remarked, “Alberta’s economy has now firmly transitioned from recovery to expansion.” Delving deeper into sectoral insights, the industrial construction segment is seeing an upswing. Stronger industrial construction activity is evident, with permits soaring to their highest since Q2 2019. This progress is bolstered by Alberta’s competitive industrial rents and a surging demand for distribution spaces. However, on the commercial front, permits remain stagnant. Office spaces report a stabilization but contend with high vacancy rates. Efforts are underway in Calgary to convert vacant offices into condos, with Edmonton contemplating a similar move. However, the

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Alberta’s Construction Permit Trends: A Deep Dive into July’s Numbers

July saw a Canada wide decline in building permits, and Alberta wasn’t exempt from this trend, experiencing a significant reduction of 15.2%. The national drop of 1.5% is attributed mainly to a decrease in non-residential permits. Canada’s residential permit values increased, primarily propelled by Ontario’s growth. Contrarily, Alberta witnessed a decrease in the total monthly value of its residential permits by about 13%. On the non-residential construction front, Alberta logged an 18% decrease, which is more pronounced than the nationwide 11.5% decline. One standout data point for Alberta is the sharp decline in the industrial sector after a notable peak in June. A look into the figures reveals that industrial permits soared to 150,925 in June, nearly tripling May’s value of 55,003. However, by July, they came back down to 45,171. In tandem with the national data, Alberta’s commercial sector registered a slight 2.7% decrease from June to July. In a twist away from the broader Canadian trend, Alberta’s institutional and governmental construction intentions climbed by 7.6% over the same period. For a more granular view on Alberta’s month-over-month data: The single dwelling units sector in Alberta showcased consistency. In May, the figure stood at 440,901, which saw a minor

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Alberta’s Rapid Population Growth Fuels Economic Promise

According to the Government of Alberta’s Q1 fiscal update, the province is witnessing an unprecedented rate of population growth, which in turn is significantly elevating its economic outlook. More than 46,000 people have moved to Alberta from other parts of Canada in the 2023 census year alone. This record-breaking number surpasses the previous high set in 2006 and outpaces growth in all other provinces. The robust economic conditions, housing affordability and lower cost of living in Alberta have been strong pulls for new residents. International migration is also setting records, particularly due to an influx of non-permanent residents, which includes temporary foreign workers, international students and refugees. Notably, more than 37,000 migrants have arrived since June 2022, fleeing the conflict in Ukraine. The demographic shift is having a profound impact on the province’s future. Alberta’s population is now forecast to grow by 4.4% in the 2023 census year, the fastest annual growth since 1981 and well above the initial budget forecast of 2.9% growth. This increased population is expected to boost consumer spending, expand the labor force and create a more dynamic local economy. The Q1 fiscal update makes it clear: Alberta is entering a transformative period, powered by its