PC Infrastructure Promises Rest on Poor Foundation
March 10, 2023
March 10, 2023, WINNIPEG – The Manitoba government’s infrastructure budget rests on a poor foundation as Manitoba has not prioritized investments in skilled trades training opportunities. The 2023 Budget announced $1.683 billion towards capital infrastructure projects such as hospitals and schools but continues to freeze funding for apprenticeship seats. Because of this, the government lacks access to the skilled labour in Manitoba required to complete these projects on budget and on time. Had the government invested in skilled training opportunities and public infrastructure projects since taking office 2016, they would have been in a realistic position to deliver on these election-year promises.
“Manitoba faces a skilled labour shortage, and this government has made it worse by choosing not to invest in necessary public projects that would have provided an opportunity to Manitobans working in the trades and those interested in joining the industry,” said Tanya Palson, Executive Director of Manitoba Building Trades. “Now, before an election, this government is promising Manitobans infrastructure projects that they won’t be able to deliver on.”
Even as the department of Advanced Education and Training has acknowledged the skilled trade labour shortage, no effort has been made to address the issue which will take away opportunities for Manitobans. The 2023 provincial budget again freezes funding for apprenticeship programs and provides no extra seats for skilled trade apprenticeship programs at the public colleges. Since 2016, these freezes have resulted in a decrease in funding of 31%, and will make it difficult for apprentices to access training
This continues a trend of the Stefanson government making it more difficult to train, recruit and retain workers in the skilled trades. During her time in Brian Pallister’s cabinet, Stefanson voted to ban project labour agreements and removed the requirement to have apprentices work on public infrastructure.
“These projects will barely get a shovel in the ground before they face labour shortages, causing long project delays. Non-unionized contractors will bring on unskilled workers out of desperation to meet their lowest bid contracts,” said Palson. “As a result, the government will likely go over budget to account for delays and building deficiencies. The government needs to be honest with Manitobans and tell them if they have the workforce to build these new projects. If this government were at all serious about these projects, they would have increased the funding for apprenticeship seats to train more Manitobans.”
One trade which is already near 100% employment in the province is heat and frost insulators, whose international union have been aggressively campaigning for new workforce recruitment as buildings are transitioning to greener, energy efficient construction.
“All of these buildings require extensive insulation work, the demand for our trade will continue to grow,” said Karl Hollinshead, Business Manager of Heat and Frost Insulators Local 99. “We are already near 100% employment of our members and efforts to bring more people into the industry have been hampered by lower wage increases than the rest of our industry and unreliable apprenticeship training availability. By investing in our trades, the government can invest in sustainable jobs for our members across Manitoba.”
About Manitoba Building Trades
Manitoba Building Trades (MBT) represents the common goals of over 10,000 construction and trades professionals across our 13 member unions. We promote the interests of our member unions and engage in project partnerships to deliver safe, skilled and highly productive labour.
About Insulators Local 99
Heat and Frost Insulators Local 99 represents skilled workers in the insulation industry throughout Manitoba. With over 25,000 members across Canada and the United States, the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators is the largest and most influential union of trained insulation mechanics in North America
Media Contact: Stephanie Starodub, email@example.com, c: 204-304-6702
For more information, visit www.mbtrades.ca