Brothers and sisters,
The past year was a year of progress for SMART, the Canadian Building Trades Unions (CBTUs) and the labour movement.
In the April federal budget, the Canadian government implemented the Labour Mobility Tax Deduction for Tradespeople, which assists employees when traveling for work. Our members deserve thanks for sending letters to their MPs in support of this important measure. Other wins for workers in the 2022 budget included the doubling of the Union Training and Innovation Program and new investments in green technologies, which will play a crucial role in creating jobs as we transition to net zero.
On Earth Day, we brought attention to “Building It Green,” a federally funded project of the CBTUs that aims to analyze the construction industry’s role in building and maintaining net-zero projects. This project demonstrates that governments, industry and workers can work together to achieve environmental protection and economic development.
The CBTUs were also responsible for several workforce development initiatives in 2022. They created the “Construction Trades Hub,” an online recruitment tool that allows workers to explore opportunities in skilled trades, and also launched “In The Trades” — a federally funded program that aims to connect 4,000 first-year Red Seal apprentices with small and medium-sized unionized contractors over the next two years.
If we each commit to bringing at least one non-union worker into the ranks of organized labour, we will be making a difference — a difference for that one worker, his or her family, and our great union.
After two long years of virtual meetings, SMART members were finally able to meet in person in August in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, for the 46th annual Canadian Council of Sheet Metal Workers and Roofers. Apprenticeship competitions were held at the convention for both sheet metal and roofing. I want to congratulate host Local 512 and its business manager/ financial secretary-treasurer, brother Gerard Murphy, for an outstanding convention.
High-profile events with federal politicians were also a feature of 2022. In the fall, we held an announcement of the 2023-2025 Immigration Levels Plan at the Finishing Trades Institute of Ontario with Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser; we were pleased to see that immigration policy seems to be prioritizing the entry of skilled workers — a crucial step in addressing labour shortages. Most notably, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dropped by the Ontario Sheet Metal Workers’ Training Centre in early September, where he learned about the hands-on training that our apprentices receive.
November proved to be a memorable month for the labour movement. When the Ford government in Ontario invoked the “notwithstanding clause” in Bill 28 to override our Charter right to collective bargaining, the labour movement brought the full weight of its influence to bear and forced the government to repeal the bill. Later that month, an Ontario court struck down Bill 124, which had imposed limits on public sector wages. Although the government intends to appeal the decision, the labour movement has clearly announced itself as a force to be reckoned with when our sacred rights are threatened.
Finally, November 2022 marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of the roofers section of the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association (now SMART) in Toronto. On November 12, 1952, the roofers held their historic first meeting and reported that certification had been received in respect of four roofing firms. As the government looks to reduce emissions and retrofit buildings, the roofing sector will continue to thrive, and the skills of our members will be increasingly in demand. Congratulations on 70 years!
May the new year bring health and prosperity to all our members, along with the conviction to build upon our success. We must continue to educate and motivate each other to do the best we can. If we each commit to bringing at least one non-union worker into the ranks of organized labour, we will be making a difference — a difference for that one worker, his or her family, and our great union.
Director of Canadian Affairs
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