The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) is expanding into Alberta, where the new organization will be called ICBA Alberta.
ICBA Alberta will operate as a chapter of ICBA, in collaboration with the B.C.-based organization. Its focus will be on the interests and priorities of its Alberta members and board.
Mike Martens has been appointed president of the newly minted body, which he will head from its headquarters in Calgary.
Martens has seen much of Western Canada.
“I spent my youth in Manitoba and my adulthood in B.C. and Alberta,” said Martens.
He knows his way around educational classrooms too.
At Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C. he earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Arts in Philosophy.
Martens has worked at the School of Practical Politics at the Manning Centre (now the Canada Strong and Free Network) in Calgary, where he trained more than 3,000 people in the how-to of electoral politics.
Before joining ICBA Alberta, he was director of public affairs of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada in Edmonton.
“Mike is a dynamic, respected advocate and is focused on growing the construction, building and resource development industries in Alberta,” said ICBA president Chris Gardner in an announcement. “He’ll work with the ICBA Alberta team to expand its member service offering in areas related to advocacy, group health benefits, training, and wellness programs that are designed for Alberta’s open shop contractors, builders and entrepreneurs.”
Gardner said open-shop contractors in Alberta can become members of ICBA Alberta and, as members, they’ll be able to vote for the organization’s board.
“We’ll be putting together a board this year and have already started to recruit for it,” he said. “We’re aiming for a board of between nine and 13 members.”
ICBA Alberta and ICBA, along with Merit Saskatchewan, the Merit Contractors Association of Manitoba, Merit Ontario and Merit Nova Scotia, are members of Merit Canada, which describes itself as the national voice of Canada’s open-shop construction sector.
Merit Canada has more than 4,000 members and group benefit plan clients across the country.
In Alberta, more than 220,000 people are employed in construction, which does much of the heavy lifting for the provincial economy.
It provides one of every 10 jobs in the province and delivers eight per cent of Alberta’s gross domestic product.
Almost nine out of every 10 construction companies in Alberta are open-shop, which means they’re not affiliated with a traditional building trades union.
ICBA Alberta Ltd. has been providing group benefits plans and retirement plans to its members for the last 10 years.
“We have more than 150 benefits clients, with a goal of pushing that to a total of more than 200 members within a year,” said Martens. “We’ve had a huge response so far.”
To announce Martens’ appointment, ICBA Alberta has just released the first edition of the Alberta Construction Monitor.
The Monitor will provide quarterly information and statistics on the Alberta construction industry, as well as news, wages, and other demographics that are relevant to its construction members.