Government of Manitoba Releases Conflicting Actions on Apprenticeship
March 4, 2021
On Bill 61:
In December 2020 the Government of Manitoba unilaterally, and without the proper industry consultation mandated through the Apprenticeship Manitoba Branch organizational structure, changed the apprenticeship ratios from one apprentice: one journeyperson, to two apprentices: one journeyperson, with the supervision requirement for 4th level apprentices altogether.
The ratio change will have devastating and immediate impacts on job security for Manitoba skilled journeypersons. By instituting 2:1 ratio, the Government of Manitoba is artificially reducing the demand, and therefore job availability for journeypersons in Manitoba by half and reduce the incentive for apprentices to advance in their careers. We already have indication from our employer partners that these changes will result in hundreds of Manitoba most skilled labour losing their jobs. Additionally, at a time when we are facing a real skilled trades labour shortage, actions like this will disincentivize youth from considering a career in the trades altogether.
Bill 61 acknowledges the long overdue need for modernization to Manitoba’s Apprenticeship Branch. Manitoba Building Trades will continue to advocate for fair and proportionate representation within a reformed apprenticeship system. It is unclear from the current bill due to a lack of details regarding the process for industry consultation.
Unfortunately, the ratio change was adopted in December 2020, before Bill 61 had a chance to be tabled. With the Government’s acknowledgement of their own flawed consultation process necessitating the need for Bill 61, we are asking that they repeal the 2:1 ratio regulation change until the apprenticeship reform is complete.
Together with our employer partners, we represent a majority portion of Manitoba’s construction industry. It is unacceptable that any government would not seek proper and informed consultation before imposing such devastating changes.
On Bill 55: The repeal of The Apprenticeship Employment Opportunities Act (Public Works Contracts).
The Government of Manitoba has stated that regulation changes to apprenticeship ratios and modernization to the apprenticeship system are action to increase the number of apprentices in Manitoba, yet at the same time they are removing a government mandated need for employers to hire those very apprentices on public projects.
The Government of Manitoba is signaling to industry that low-wage unskilled labour is equal to or preferred over skilled apprentices in training. Public projects employ large construction workforces, and without a mandate of apprenticeship education, employers are likely to seek labour for the lowest wage possible. It is unacceptable that the Government of Manitoba would encourage an environment where employers can seek cost savings at the expense of young workers just beginning their apprenticeship journey and looking for opportunity.
Bill 55 removal of The Apprenticeship Opportunities Act directly contradicts any supposed support for apprentices and the future of Manitoba’s skilled construction workforce. The impacts may not be immediate, but they will be real, and they will be long lasting.