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Letter to the Editor: More than 50 organizations call on new Ontario government to support green building workforce

Letter to the Editor: More than 50 organizations call on new Ontario government to support green building workforce

To the Editor:

The building sector faces important challenges: labour shortages, the housing crisis, the need to implement innovative technologies while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

That is why organizations representing the whole value chain of Ontario’s building sector are collaborating in the Workforce 2030 Coalition to implement low-carbon training solutions and advance best practices on new materials.

On June 1, the Workforce 2030 Coalition met in Toronto to discuss the construction industry’s future and recommendations for the new Ontario government, such as investments in training, innovative policies for targeting green buildings and steps to address future workforce demands.

Within Ontario’s green building workforce, two opposing forces are at play. On the one hand, there is a growing demand for deep retrofit and net-zero emissions new construction, which will see Ontario’s green building workforce triple in size by 2030, adding approximately 400,000 workers to the current labour force. On the other hand, there is an aging workforce with more than 90,000 construction workers expected to retire in the next eight years.

Meeting this unprecedented challenge requires Ontario’s building sector to add apprentices, experienced tradespeople, or recently reskilled workers to respond to growing demand for workers at every stage of construction. Eliminating emissions from buildings will require workers from across specializations including building material manufacturing, design, construction and trades, as well as in the operations of high-performance buildings.

The Workforce 2030 Coalition is supportive of this government’s past investments, including the recently implemented Skilled Trade Strategy. With a re-elected majority, we invite Premier Doug Ford to further focus on the gaps in the green building workforce and strengthen current funding. The future workforce depends on industry training facilities, colleges and other public institutions to quickly mobilize and turn out the professionals, tradespeople and workers required to transform Ontario’s built environment.  

Government and industry need to collaborate to mobilize a younger generation interested in protecting the environment and underrepresented groups such as women, immigrants and people of colour to consider pursuing a career in the building sector. Our province cannot miss this opportunity to develop its future economy and become a champion of sustainable and resilient communities. We must stay competitive with Canadian and American markets already developing policies and programs favouring net-zero emissions buildings.

Ontario can be a leader and set an example by releasing a clear path and timeline for the Ontario Building Code to be net-zero emissions ready. 

Setting a clear pathway to net-zero emissions for both new and existing buildings provides our sector with the predictability to make long-term investments. It also indicates to the market that the province is ready to attract manufacturers of low-carbon materials and mechanical systems like heat pumps.

As the need to eliminate emissions from our buildings intensifies, more private sector investment will be directed to high-performing, sustainable buildings and the training needed to deliver on them.

Through critical investments in workforce readiness and the implementation of smart policies like a tiered code, Ontario can simultaneously strengthen the attractiveness of skilled trades and other professionals, support innovation and inclusiveness in the building sector, and lead the way in lowering emissions. 

Ford’s government would be wise to seize this opportunity for the future of Ontario and its people.

Signed,

The organizations comprising the Workforce 2030 Coalition

Workforce 2030 Coalition – Participating organizations:

  • Athabasca University
  • BGIS
  • BOMA Toronto
  • Building UP
  • Canada Green Building Council
  • Canada Wood Council
  • Canadian Apprenticeships Forum
  • Canadian Association for Consulting Energy Advisors (CACEA)
  • Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business
  • Canadian Institute of Energy Training (CIET)
  • Carpenters District Council of Ontario
  • Catherine Donnelly Foundation
  • Colleges Ontario
  • Eco Transition
  • Efficiency Canada
  • Element Five
  • Endeavour Centre
  • Fanshawe College
  • Fenestration Association of BC
  • Fourth Pig Green & Natural Construction
  • GEO Source Energy Inc.
  • George Brown College
  • Great Gulf
  • Heat and Frost insulators & Allied Workers Local 95
  • Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute (HRAI)
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 353
  • JJ McNeil Commercial Real Estate Brokerage
  • Labour Education Centre
  • Mohawk College
  • Morrison Hershfield
  • MOSS SUND architects
  • NAIMA Canada
  • Ontario Association of Architects (OAA)
  • Ontario General Contractors Association
  • Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE)
  • Ottawa Climate Action Fund
  • Passive House Canada
  • PCL
  • Pretium
  • Prince’s Trust Canada
  • Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario
  • Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON)
  • STL Lighting Group
  • SvN Architects and Planners
  • The Atmospheric Fund
  • Toronto and York Region Labour Council
  • Toronto and York Region Board of Trade
  • Toronto Community Benefits Network
  • Toronto Environmental Alliance
  • Toronto Workforce Funders Collaborative
  • Tridel
  • Walsh Construction
 

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