Workforce 2030, supported by our Foundational Partners and Participants, have submitted the following letter to key Ontario government representatives and ministries:
September 15, 2020
Premier of Ontario, Hon. Doug Ford
Minster of Labour, Training and Skills Development, Hon. Monte McNaughton
Minster of Colleges and Universities, Hon. Ross Romano
Minster of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Hon. Victor Fedeli
Minister of Infrastructure, Hon. Laurie Scott
Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services/Associate Minister Responsible for Women's Issues, Hon. Jill Dunlop
Minster of Environment, Conservation and Parks, Hon. Jeff Yurek
Ready, Set, Recover: How low-carbon building can reignite Ontario’s economy
From relief to recovery
In the midst of an unprecedented health crisis that has resulted in over one million jobs lost this year, Ontario is preparing for an economic recovery. Our province must turn to construction and infrastructure projects as a key economic driver to help re-ignite the economy and create urgently needed jobs. While we find ourselves in extraordinary circumstances, this remains the critical decade for climate action. Economic recovery and environmental action can go hand in hand. Ontario’s recovery can be accelerated by activating the private sector through prudent public investments. Much of this opportunity rests in the building sector.
Workforce2030: A coalition for building a green economy and creating jobs in Ontario
Recognizing the need to fast-track the workforce required to build a low-carbon Ontario and the urgency of bringing people back to work, a broad coalition called Workforce 2030 launched this July with participation from the province’s skilled trades unions, building professional associations, business and industry associations, property development and construction firms, community colleges, and environmental sustainability organizations.
Workforce 2030 seeks to catalyze and support development in the building sector’s workforce with an emphasis on low-carbon, high-value jobs. It includes educators, employers and workers who make up the full spectrum of the building sector. The coalition identified that developing the skills and growing the design, engineering, construction, building operation and management workforce, with equity and inclusion principles at the forefront, are required to address the needs of the accelerating low-carbon economy. The coalition looks to increase workforce capacity by championing the following three areas:
- Skills development for existing workers by enhancing low-carbon knowledge and competencies.
- Attracting, training and upskilling workers, specifically addressing groups most impacted by COVID-19, and those traditionally underrepresented in the building sector, including women, youth, Black, Indigenous, racialized people, and newcomers, to create pathways to resilient employment.
- Workplace innovation aligned with rapid digitalization and new technologies that create new, more efficient processes and occupations.
Strategic government investment can accelerate recovery and job growth
According to Canada Green Building Council, green building activity in 2018 contributed approximately $48 billion towards Canada’s GDP with Ontario accounting for close to half, an increase of 87 per cent from 2014. Also, in this period, green building contributed 230,000 Ontario jobs. In the next 10 years, targeted government investment and policies in support of green buildings can lead to 626,080 direct green building jobs in Ontario. Considering the Government of Canada has signaled its intention to advance a “green recovery” with stimulus investment in infrastructure, the green building sector is poised for continued growth.
However, building sector workforce gaps and labour shortages have been documented and will only become more pronounced without focused intervention. We have an opportunity to use this moment as a pivot point to stimulate the economy, foster an inclusive recovery and get people back to work. At the same time, we can also reduce carbon emissions and improve Canadians’ health, while creating innovation in the building sector.
Workforce 2030 recommends action today that will prepare Ontario to meet the demand for skills tomorrow. These actions include three key investments designed to address immediate labour market demand and urgent worker upskilling and re-employment.
We ask that the Ontario government prioritize the following:
- In-depth skills gaps and needs assessment of building subsectors and occupations across the building ecosystem, from design and construction, to building operation and management. This would identify the most effective education and training pathways and determine how to regularly and expeditiously update curricula as markets and technologies evolve. Such an assessment would lead to a better understanding of current and future education and training needs. This process should closely engage industry and inform industry-led action plans as well as government investment decisions.
- Strengthen training provision by increasing the capacity of educators and trainers, specifically: resourcing curricula development and the administrative capacity of training centers and colleges for the rapid upgrading of education programs with green literacy basics, low-carbon skills and the latest technologies. Support a wide variety of employer-recognized and workplace training approaches for rapid upskilling as well as modes of training that meet the needs of workers most impacted by COVID-19 pandemic and those facing barriers to employment.
- Encourage training uptake by supporting new entrants and incumbent workers as they rapidly build in-demand skills for re-employment, especially skills related to state-of-good repair work such as building retrofits for energy efficiency and indoor air quality improvements. Support design, engineering, real estate professionals and skilled trades workers, especially those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, in taking immediate skills training in areas identified by employers and unions as critical to meet urgent demand for low-carbon building skills, including associated occupations such as energy modeling, low-carbon materials, mechanical electrical and building automation systems, geothermal pumps and photovoltaic systems, plumbing and pipefitting, etc.
Actions to grow the low-carbon capacity of the workforce can be a key driver of the recovery, resulting in job creation, increased construction sector innovation, and buildings and homes that are healthier, less expensive to operate, and more resilient and responsive to environmental and climate change challenges.
Workforce 2030 can inform and help advance a green economy and job growth agenda with specific projects aligned with the needs of business and workers. Existing programs like Skills Advance Ontario, Ontario Labour Market Partnership and Canada Ontario Job Grant program are well positioned and can be enhanced to incentivise and support the coalition’s recommended priorities.
Workforce 2030 Foundational Partner and Participating organizations and their senior representatives endorsing this letter
John Cartwright, President, Toronto and York Region Labour Council
Steven Martin, Business Manager, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 353
Mike Yorke, President, Carpenters District Council of Ontario
David Gardner, Business Manager, Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 95
Farah Mohammed, Senior Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, Policy and Public Affairs, Toronto Region Board of Trade
Sandro Perruzza, CEO of Ontario Society of Professional Engineers
Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON)
Clare Ashbee, Vice President, Sustainable Building Solutions, Ellis Don
Bala Gnanam, Vice President - Energy, Environment & Advocacy, Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA Toronto)
Akua Schatz, VP, Market Engagement and Advocacy, Canada Green Building Council
Tony Cupido, Research Chair, Sustainability, Mohawk College
Julia Langer, CEO, The Atmospheric Fund (TAF)
Surabhi Jain, Executive Director, Toronto’s Workforce Funder Collaborative
Corey Diamond, Executive Director, Efficiency Canada
Rosemarie Powell, Executive Director, Toronto Community Benefits Network
Chris Ballard, CEO, Passive House Canada
Dr. Yogendra Chaudhry, Vice President, Professional Services, ECO Canada
Heather Marshall, Campaigns Director, Toronto Environmental Alliance