Sharing news that SHCA members need to know

Mary Van Buren announces her spring departure from the Canadian Construction Association

After six successful years as the president of the Canadian Construction Association (CCA), Mary Van Buren has announced that she will be leaving the association in the spring of 2024.

As the first female president in the association’s long history, she has guided CCA into a new era that is digital first and inclusive. Her focus on modernization was critical in CCA’s ability to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, while advocating on behalf of the industry and continuing to deliver member value in the face of a global crisis.

Under her leadership, CCA has developed an expanded focus on innovation and best practices and is currently piloting a digital contract service which will roll out in early 2024.

One of the most significant achievements of her tenure has been the review of CCA’s governance model, and the restructuring that allowed the association to be nimbler in addressing member issues. Working closely with the board of directors as well as the governance and nominating committee, Van Buren’s commitment to governance effectiveness has seen the consistent evolution of the model and led to CCA receiving the Governance Award from the Governance Professionals of Canada in 2023. 

While her impact on the association is evident, her unwavering commitment to engagement stands as the bedrock of her success at CCA. Through her steadfast dedication to collaboration, she has strengthened the relationship with CCA’s 62 partner associations and developed new strategic partnerships that have not only delivered more value to CCA’s 18,000 member firms but also elevated the profile for the national construction industry.

“The construction industry is essential to Canada’s economic success and quality of life, yet it doesn’t always get the credit it deserves,” said Van Buren. “I am so proud to have brought more attention to an industry that has such a profound impact on our country and affects positive change in our communities every day.”

2023 Fall Economic Statement lacks concrete actions

The 2023 Fall Economic Statement, released near the end of November 2023, focused heavily on necessary housing investment, but fell short in other important areas including measures to shore up Canada’s trade-enabling infrastructure. Approximately two-thirds of Canada’s GDP is from trade, yet the statement remained silent on bolstering Canada’s trade network, which pays for the social infrastructure Saskatchewan enjoys.

The announcement to leverage the Canada Infrastructure Bank to support more housing may finally recognize the fact that more homes cannot be built without the essential housing-enabling infrastructure to support it – a position the industry has repeatedly emphasized to all orders of government. Details on these necessary investments are missing. The industry is expecting to see a long-term, comprehensive infrastructure investment plan in the federal government’s 2024 Budget.

The industry is encouraged that the federal government recognizes the workforce shortage, yet a focus on internal labour mobility rather than more progressive policy changes to immigration are not the answer. Free mobility within Canada is simply not an adequate solution to address the workforce shortage when collectively, Canada does not have enough workers coast to coast. This is why the industry is calling on the government to help address the workforce shortage by overhauling immigration to attract labour from abroad.

Finally, while the commitment to getting major projects built faster is positive, implementation will rely in part on the government’s willingness to review and modernize their procurement practices. This includes considering alternative delivery models and better balancing risk between owners and contractors.

The Canadian construction industry will continue to partner with government to build a strong foundation for a stronger Canada.

Saskatchewan delivers success with mission to Philippines and Singapore

Saskatchewan’s mission to the Philippines and Singapore has concluded with outcomes that exceed expectations. The employer-driven
labour recruitment mission to Manila included 26 Saskatchewan employers and resulted in over 1,000 anticipated nominations for permanent residency through the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) in occupations in demand in the province. 

“The number one labour market challenge that employers have been having in the past 18 months is a critical shortage of labour across all sectors,” Trade and Export Development and Immigration and Career Training Minister Jeremy Harrison said. “The first priority is always to make sure Saskatchewan residents have the first opportunity, but that has just not been enough lately with over 15,000 jobs posted on the SaskJobs website today and the second lowest unemployment rate in Canada speaking to that fact. The government has responded by partnering with businesses and organizations to engage internationally. The first mission to Poland in September largely focused on Ukrainian refugees. This was the second. 

“The success of this mission reinforces Saskatchewan’s position as a top destination for talented individuals all across the world. Saskatchewan’s commitment to attracting talent while strengthening its presence on a global scale ensures a path forward filled with more jobs, opportunities and economic growth.” 

The government will be releasing a comprehensive jobs plan to address the labour market shortage this year. 

“Working with the Government of Saskatchewan allowed us to focus on talking with welders and painters who are ready to come to Saskatchewan,” Doepker Industries HR Manager Jeff Arthur said. “We were able to interview a lot of candidates thanks to the mission’s organization and structure. Adding core people to our workforce and to our rural communities is a wonderful thing. We’re very proud of our highly skilled and dedicated team members here in Saskatchewan; when given the opportunity to expand on that strong base with skilled tradespeople from outside the province, it makes a world of difference.”  

Immigration officials from the Ministry of Immigration and Career Training held 10 information sessions about SINP and living in Saskatchewan that attracted over 500 people. Throughout the four-day event, immigration officials conducted 314 immigration interviews with SINP and Expression of Interest applicants. Attendees also had the opportunity to interview for employment positions from 26 different Saskatchewan employers who were present at the event, representing various sectors, including agriculture, community services, manufacturing and construction trades.  

Recruitment missions like this one and the one that took place earlier this year to Poland are aligned with Saskatchewan’s Growth Plan objectives of developing Saskatchewan’s labour force and engaging internationally to support the growth of the province. Saskatchewan will continue to advance international engagements to recruit more people and move forward toward reaching a population of 1.4 million people by 2030.

Saskatchewan adopts 2020 national construction codes

The Government of Saskatchewan recently adopted the 2020 editions of the national construction codes – National Building Code of Canada (NBC), National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (NECB), and the National Plumbing Code of Canada (NPC) – which were published by the National Research Council in March 2022. The 2020 codes came into effect in Saskatchewan on Jan. 1, 2024.

The 2020 codes, adopted by regulation under the province’s Construction Codes Act, allow the construction industry, architects, engineers, building officials, municipalities and other stakeholders time to review and plan before the busy summer construction season begins. This date also allows the province to fulfill its commitment under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement to adopt national construction codes within 24 months of publication to support the harmonization and timely adoption of codes across Canada. Adoption of the codes will fulfill Saskatchewan’s commitment to Prairie Resilience and Saskatchewan’s Growth Plan.

“Our timely adoption of the national construction codes supports Saskatchewan communities by promoting safe and innovative buildings that will allow for consistency across the industry,” Government Relations Minister Don McMorris said. “These codes will improve new home builds with additional efficiency and safety measures to ensure adequate future proofing of homes for Saskatchewan families.”

Amendments to the Building Code Regulations, Energy Code Regulations and Plumbing Code Regulations came into effect Jan. 1, 2024, as a result of adopting the 2020 national construction codes.

These amendments include:

  • Consolidating Saskatchewan’s four climate zones into a single climate zone to simplify requirements for the construction industry and individuals when applying energy-efficiency provisions under the NBC and NECB.  
  • Establishing energy efficiency tiers for the construction of buildings which will help to support Saskatchewan’s Growth Plan to build strong communities and support our province.  
  • Under the NECB, Tier 1 will apply for larger buildings.  
  • Under the NBC, Tier 2 will apply for smaller buildings,
    including houses. 
  • Existing buildings constructed before Jan. 1, 2019, are exempt from these energy efficiency provisions when being renovated. 
  • Clarifying requirements around carbon monoxide and smoke alarms to ensure a consistent approach to enforcement.  
  • Clarifying where backwater valves are required in buildings to prevent sewer backups.

Jack Brodsky named CTV Saskatoon’s 2023 Citizen of the Year

An SHCA board member was named CTV Saskatoon’s 2023 Citizen of the Year for his decades of work as a community builder who has made a difference in the lives of countless youths.

Jack Brodsky, who has lived in Saskatoon since he was four years old, is a graduate of Aden Bowman Collegiate Institute. In 1978, he became a certified engineering technologist though Saskatchewan Polytechnic.

In the following years, Brodsky learned the family construction business while also learning the importance of giving back to the community. He was a co-owner of the Saskatoon Blades from 1976 to 2013, and was instrumental in developing a scholarship program for graduating Western Hockey League players. He’s also volunteered for many organizations and has served on multiple boards.

Read the next issue of Think BIG magazine this spring to learn more about Brodsky’s commitment to the construction industry and his community.

WCB approves 2024 premium rates

The Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) has approved the 2024 average employer premium rate to remain unchanged from the 2023 rate of $1.28 per hundred dollars of payroll.

 “The primary drivers of the 2024 premium rate are claim costs and payroll,” said Gord Dobrowolsky, the WCB’s chair. “The average premium rate this year will not increase, however we are expecting total costs to continue to rise in the future. This could place upward pressure on premium rates. The WCB’s rate model ensures a balance between stable rates and a fully funded compensation system.”

 In 2022, 90 per cent of employers achieved zero injuries and zero fatalities. The WCB is working to support workers and employers across the province to prioritize and effectively manage workplace safety. Currently, serious injuries account for the majority of claim costs within the workers’ compensation system. Approximately 10 to 13 per cent of claims result in more than 80 per cent of costs.

The WCB has a legislative obligation to remain fully funded. In response to changing accounting standards, the WCB has finalized a comprehensive review of the funding policy. The funding policy has been superseded by the sufficiency policy, which measures funding adequacy in a different way. The sufficiency policy reconfirms the WCB’s commitment to hold sufficient funds to balance long-term obligations to workers and employers.

 “To help reduce volatility in premium rates under the new accounting standards, the WCB’s sufficiency policy targets a range of between 100 and 140 per cent funded to cover the costs of current and future claims,” said Phillip Germain, the WCB’s CEO. “The 2024 rate ensures we will be able to maintain our funded position.”

Employers can help prevent work-related injuries through effective safety management systems. By working together, all stakeholders can prevent disability through effective rehabilitation and return-to-work plans can help employers reduce claim costs and manage work-related injuries. By reducing the number and severity of injuries in the workplace, industry premium rates will be positively impacted. Employers and the WCB can work collaboratively to develop safety management systems and return-to-work programs to help prevent and manage work-related injuries.

To further support workers and employers, WorkSafe Saskatchewan, the partnership between the WCB and the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, launched the 2023-2028 Fatalities and Serious Injuries Strategy in March 2023. The updated strategy, built on the success of the 2019-2021 strategy, focuses on two key streams of work that will be undertaken to reduce injuries and fatalities – a regulatory and enforcement stream, and a prevention and learning stream. The strategy lays out a direction for working together with stakeholders, including non-profit safety associations, to address high-risk industries and occupations that are resulting in workplace fatalities and injuries.

“The WCB will continue to work closely with employers, workers and health-care providers to support the prevention of work disability through collaborative planning,” said Dobrowolsky. “As we head into 2024, we continue our commitment to eliminate workplace fatalities and injuries in the workplace. It is only together that we will achieve this vision.”