SMART MAP Coordinator Chris Carlough speaks at the sheet metal Safety Champions Conference.

SMART MAP (Member Assistance Program) mental health sessions have been evolving since they began more than a decade ago to combat the high suicide and substance use disorder rates among construction workers. Participants in the class become SMART MAP mentors as they learn to be mental health first responders — peer counselors able to lend a listening ear and guide fellow SMART members to local resources. 

The three-day sessions offer theoretical as well as practical knowledge and the basic skills necessary for crisis intervention. They also give participants information about substance abuse disorder and relapse, motivational interviewing, confidentiality and ethics, legal issues, marijuana, health insurance and treatment center options, suicide prevention, aftercare programs and how to change the culture of the union and help end the stigma of addiction and other mental health issues. 

While Canadian brothers and sisters have been included in SMART MAP sessions in the past, due to the pandemic, a session hadn’t made its way north since 2018. With some help from Patricia Pike, a Canadian-American dual citizen and CEO and founder CanAm Interventions, the SMART MAP session held in Toronto on March 26-28 provided a tailored presentation. 

“Since we’ve been doing education and training through SMART MAP the last 10 years or so, we’ve had Canadian members attend regular SMART MAP sessions,” said Chris Carlough, SMART MAP coordinator. “It’s not brand new, but the program we delivered this time was specifically designed for Canada.” 

The key to a successful SMART MAP mental health session is a group of participants willing to share their experiences and engage with the speakers. The March class was full of such attendees, with a long waitlist emerging within 18 hours of registration opening. Due to the need, the Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust (SMOHIT) allowed 57 members to attend the course, nearly double the size of a normal session. 

Typically, having more than 25-30 participants takes away from the course’s intimacy and engagement. Not this time, said Jeff Bradley, SMOHIT program director. 

“It was like a bunch of buddies going out together and talking,” he said. “It was cool.” 

“We’ve had sessions before when you’re trying to pull out words, experiences, thoughts out of the attendees, but Canada wasn’t like that,” added Carlough. “It was a raucous event for three days.” 

SMART MAP mental health sessions are typically held for local leadership, and the SMART MAP team also presents a peer-to-peer session for rank-and-file members. In July, they will be back in Toronto to impart skills and mental health knowledge to members of Local 285. 

“We are doing peer training throughout North America, and we will be present in Canada in 2024,” Carlough said. 

The combination of mental health sessions for leadership and peer-to-peer trainings for rank-and-file members helps bring awareness of mental health and substance use disorder to the entire local, Carlough explained. 

“In the mental health trainings, we’re talking to people in the room directly,” he noted. “But we’re also talking about the people who they’re going to go back and help in their local unions.” 

The success of the session is measured by the knowledge and skills gained and how members use that knowledge to help one another. During the March Toronto session, members developed the confidence to talk about difficult subjects, see different perspectives on addiction, and understand the true definition of self care and useful statistics, according to post-event evaluations. 

“We can put this gained knowledge to use immediately,” one member said. 

Another added: “Everything covered during this session has been well worth it, and I want to thank the team for all the work you do and help that was given to me.” 

The Government of Canada has aspirational goals to achieve a net-zero society by 2050. To help reach those goals and move our national ambitions forward, the construction industry must lean into “Building It Green.” Buildings and construction have been identified as among the three primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2021, Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU) launched a national project to integrate climate literacy into the skilled construction trades’ education and training. The new Building It Green program is Canada’s most comprehensive climate-focused construction curriculum. Funded by Employment and Social Development Canada’s Union Training and Innovation Program (UTIP), Building It Green is a national training program to strengthen the construction industry’s ability to support journeypersons, apprentices and training instructors as they manage the emerging and pressing needs of climate change. Transitioning Canada’s workforce to net-zero and ensuring our members receive the skills required to lead the change — without losing jobs — is critical to our economy.

The project’s advisory committee includes affiliate members of the CBTU and national training directors from coast to coast. I would like to recognize and thank Training Coordinator and President of SMART Local 280 (Vancouver, B.C.) Jud Martell. Brother Martell is a member of the Sheet Metal Industry Training Board and provided his expertise and valuable input on the curriculum development for our trade-specific training.

On February 6, 2024, the program was officially launched at the IBEW Local 586 Training Centre in Ottawa, with Minister of Employment, Workplace Development, and Official Languages Randy Boissonnault present. A public webinar on Building It Green climate literacy training — by tradespeople, for tradespeople — was held on February 15. There were also workshops at the CBTU Legislative Conference in April for those who attended.

Ontario organizing blitz

Local 235 is in the southwestern portion of Ontario, servicing the Sarnia, Windsor and Chatham areas. The region is experiencing unprecedented work in all sectors, driven largely by the NextStar battery plant and the Gordie Howe Bridge projects.

The local is currently performing an organizing drive to sign up members for NextStar contractors that are providing building services installations, architectural panels, clean rooms and roof installation, along with numerous members working on the seven-plus buildings at the Gordie Howe Bridge site.

Over the span of five days, four organizers and two International representatives canvassed the Local 235 region. They spent one day canvassing the Sarnia area, three days in the Windsor and Tecumseh areas and the final day in Chatham, handing out pamphlets with QR codes that link to a SMART landing page. Simultaneously, a coordinated blitz was launched on Facebook and Instagram, advertising and promoting the same landing page and upcoming work opportunities.

The landing page analytics revealed a total of 52 submitted interest forms. Local 473 (London, Ontario) Organizer Patrick Gordon scheduled numerous in-person meetings, some leading to organizing campaigns with nonunion companies. Additionally, they compiled a list of close to 70 potential new members with various levels of experience.

From left to right: Bowen LaFave, Scott McQueen, Patrick Gordon, Craig Taylor, Tim Last and Carm Corsaro

Excellent job by Patrick Gordon setting up pinned locations of nonunion sites in the area so time was not wasted finding sites and workers. Outstanding job by the organizers involved: Tim Last of Local 537 (Hamilton, Ontario), Bowen LaFave of Local 30 (Toronto), Carm Corsaro of Local 285 (Toronto), Patrick Gordon and International Representatives Craig Taylor and Scott McQueen.

Recognition of dedication

On February 29, 2024, International Representative for Atlantic Canada Leonard Day retired. Brother Day joined Local 437 (Saint John, New Brunswick) in 1984 and became a journeyperson in 1986. He served in various roles in his local union, including trustee, vice president and business manager/financial secretary-treasurer from 2002–2014. He held numerous positions at the national level as president of the Eastern Conference, president of the Canadian Council of Sheet Metal Workers and Roofers, and on the Board of Trustees for the Local Union & Council Pension Plan.

In 2014, he was appointed by former General President Joseph Nigro as International representative and sat as a board member on both the General Presidents’ Maintenance Committee for Canada and the National Maintenance Council for Canada.

On behalf of all the members, thank you for your years of dedication and service, and may you enjoy a long and healthy retirement with your wife, Della, your family and especially the grandkids!

I remain, fraternally yours, 

Chris Paswisty
Director of Canadian Affairs

Brothers and sisters,

The North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) held their annual Tradeswomen Build Nations (TWBN) conference in Washington, DC, in early December. Over 4,000 sisters and allies were in attendance, forging the future of the construction industry. The conference provides opportunities for networking, learning and leadership development for all attendees, whether you are an apprentice or a journeyperson. Workshops and plenary sessions were facilitated by tradeswomen and featured union leaders, apprentice coordinators, contractors and politicians.

It was a fun-filled weekend packed with great information. The conference took to the streets for the banner parade to showcase the enthusiasm and opportunities for a career in the trades. I encourage all locals to send a delegation of sisters to the 2024 TWBN conference, which will be held in New Orleans. The weekend will leave you with a renewed sense of purpose and pride in the labour movement. Our SMART delegation has continued to grow over the years, so let’s keep the momentum going and aim to have more in attendance next year.

In November, the Federal Government tabled legislation to implement the Fall Economic Statement, which included labour requirements for Investment Tax Credits (ITCs) for green technologies contained within it. The ITCs will be available for investments in clean technology, clean electricity, clean hydrogen and carbon capture. To be eligible to receive the maximum ITC, employers must adhere to a definition of prevailing wage that is based on multiemployer collective agreements and have at least 10% of work hours be performed by apprentices.

SMART and the Canadian Building Trades have been advocating for years for this kind of prevailing wage language. We are hoping, with your support, that we can ensure the Government gets this legislation across the finish line and into law.

The theme of last year’s SMART Leadership Conference, held in August, was “This is Our Time” — and that sentiment couldn’t be truer. With wildfires burning across the country and health advisories being issued almost daily across North America, our skills are needed now more than ever. Fresh air and ventilation verification have never been more important. With news stories regarding ventilation issues in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, indoor air quality is front and centre. And in Ontario, the New Democratic Party has announced that it will be presenting a private members’ bill to improve indoor air safety.

Grassroots groups like Ontario School Safety are advocating for safer school environments in Canada, particularly improved air quality. While the initial focus was on COVID-19 protection, concerns have expanded to other respiratory threats, including the flu, respiratory syncytial virus and pollutants like wildfire smoke. Experts and parent groups emphasize the need for better ventilation and air filtration, suggesting schools consider upgrading to MERV 13 filters in their HVAC systems.

A memo from September 2023 by Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce stated the province’s requirement for a standalone HEPA filter in specific classrooms and areas without adequate mechanical ventilation or lacking MERV 13 filters. The province has dedicated over $665 million towards enhancing air quality in schools, implementing over 100,000 HEPA units, and has allocated an additional $30 million for the upcoming school year for higher-grade filters.

We must collectively use our expertise and meet with local, provincial and federal governments to ensure that our members’ skills are recognized and utilized in constructing healthy buildings and healthy homes.

Clean air concerns are not just limited to schools. This past summer, wildfires caused dangerously high levels of smoke and chemicals in communities across the country. Often, buildings like libraries, schools and malls are designated as cleaner air spaces for the public to find respite from wildfire smoke. With the increasing effects of climate change leading to more frequent wildfires, these safe havens are becoming even more essential. To address this, some towns, such as Renfrew, Ontario, have transformed public buildings into clean-air shelters equipped with strong air filtration systems to protect against harmful particles.

However, at present, clean-air shelters operate sporadically. There is an absence of provincially regulated alert systems, and no standardized method of informing the public about which shelters are operational. There’s a growing call among advocates for Canadian cities to introduce an automatic mechanism, activating all designated clean-air shelters (free of charge) if an area’s air quality remains in the “moderate” bracket for more than two consecutive days. In the face of the ongoing climate crisis, it’s vital for Canada to prioritize health-focused initiatives, starting from the federal tier and extending down to the provincial and municipal levels. We must collectively use our expertise and meet with local, provincial and federal governments to ensure that our members’ skills are recognized and utilized in constructing healthy buildings and healthy homes.

As we begin a new year, we must remember that this is our time. Our time to organize, our time to grow and our time to expand our contractor base. We must bring into our membership everyone that works in our trades. We must utilize all our tools to organize, and we need our membership involved by adopting the SMART Incentive Program. By having our members recruiting the next generation of workers, we will build our locals and set the standard for generations.

We have been growing momentum as we strive for a better Canada and a brighter future. Please continue to stay active, get involved and stay safe!

In Solidarity,

Chris Paswisty
Director of Canadian Affairs

From September 12–14, during the Ontario Sheet Metal Workers’ and Roofers’ Conference, apprentices from nine different local unions gathered in Peterborough, Ontario, for the 50th annual Ontario Sheet Metal Workers Apprenticeship Competition. The challenge? Building copper replicas of the iconic Peterborough Lift Lock.

“It’s a great opportunity to get some new skills and meet some new people, and it’s a lot of fun,” said Local 537 (Hamilton, Ontario) apprentice Mackenzie Johnston.

Along with the conference and apprenticeship competition, SMART Army Canada was out in force: Dozens of members took to the streets for a cleanup of the Otonabee River and nearby Millennium Park, helping preserve Canada’s natural beauty and public spaces for the local community.


  • First place: Kevin Berkmortel, Local 473 (London, Ontario)
  • Second place: Jamie Weir, Local 30 (Toronto, Ontario)
  • Third place: Aaron Woolley, Local 397 (Thunder Bay, Ontario)
  • Fourth place: Jacob Wiebe, Local 235 (Windsor, Ontario)
  • Fifth place: Austin Ducedre, Local 235 (Windsor, Ontario)
  • Congeniality award: Antonio Iezzi, Local 30 (Toronto, Ontario)

SM Local 56 (Nova Scotia) roofer Alexis Lynk enjoys working with her hands. Even before she became a union roofer, she was no stranger to hands-on labor, serving customers and navigating hectic, fast-paced work situations in the service industry.

“I worked at McDonald’s for nine years,” Lynk said. “But I wasn’t making ends meet with the wages I had.”

The subpar pay led her to enroll in a trade apprenticeship through Women Unlimited, a program that introduces women to various trades via practical experience. Through that process, Lynk found her niche in roofing. And while the Women Unlimited program wasn’t her first encounter with the trades — her father was a tradesperson, and she dabbled in some trades work in high school — the mentorship and learning model cemented the union roofing industry as her new career path.

“When I come to work and I’m scared to do something, I have people to guide me,” Lynk explained. “They don’t just do it for me, they go through it with me step-by-step, so later I can do it on my own.”

Now, she is back at a McDonald’s — but this time as a roofer, working on top of the building rather than within it.

As the only female roofer on the jobsite, Lynk recalled feeling slightly nervous during her first days at work. She worried how people would perceive her skill set on the job. However, her nerves quickly abated as she found fellow brothers and sisters in the union roofing industry who supported her.

“A lot of the time, [even if] I don’t believe in myself, these people believe in me,” she said. Now, she is confident in her ability. The knowledge she learned through the apprenticeship program has given her skills to take on a variety of jobs, and as her confidence has grown, so has her feeling of belonging at the worksite. In five years, Lynk has no doubt she will be a Red Seal roofer. With her apprenticeship completed, the sky is truly the limit.

“When you say ‘yes’ to opportunities, pathways open and things are more accessible,” Lynk concluded. “I know it’s easy to say, ‘just jump in and do it.’ But if you put in yourself first, you’re going to go far.”

As we reflect on Labour Day 2023, let’s remember the reason for the holiday.

Labour Day is a day to mark workers’ sacrifices and contributions to our country. It’s a day to show our pride in the things we build, and what is possible because of what we build — hospitals, schools, skyscrapers, homes, factories and much more. Canada is powered by workers.

With the rising cost of living, workers and the value of work have gotten more attention recently, and with growing support for organized labour, let’s remember that it was workers and their unions who fought for many of the rights that Canadians now enjoy, like weekends, benefits, the eight-hour workday and health and safety at work. These protections are the result of advocacy and sacrifices made by working Canadians decades ago.

As Parliament reconvenes, we are entering an important time for Canada’s skilled tradespeople. The government is holding consultations on Investment Tax Credits introduced in the 2023 budget earlier this year. Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU) are currently advocating for skilled tradespeople by urging the federal government to pass legislation on Investment Tax Credits — financial incentives for employers who adhere to labour standards outlined in the 2023 federal budget.

To support workers and industry, the government should quickly follow through on implementing the Investment Tax Credits.

We commend the Canadian government on its commitments to implementing Investment Tax Credits for green technologies, which are tied to strong labour conditions. Now, CBTU needs your support to make these commitments a reality.

To support workers and industry, the government should quickly follow through on implementing the Investment Tax Credits, the strong definition of prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements, which will help grow our industry. These credits and their labour conditions will help create good-paying jobs for all workers and make sure that no worker is left behind in the transition to net zero.

To show your support and to ensure legislation is tabled that includes a strong definition of prevailing wage — based on union compensation — send a letter to your local member of Parliament and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. We need you to make your voice heard.

On a related note: The theme of this year’s SMART Leadership Conference was “This is Our Time,” and that couldn’t be truer. With wildfires burning across the country and health advisories being issued almost daily across North America, our skills have never been more important. Fresh air and ventilation verification are more crucial than ever. We must collectively use our expertise and meet with local, provincial and federal government leaders to ensure that our members’ skills are recognized and utilized in constructing healthy buildings and homes.

It is our time: our time to organize, our time to grow and our time to expand our contractor base. We must bring everyone that works in our trades and who carries the tools into our membership. We must use all our means to organize, and we need you to get involved in organizing by adopting the SMART Incentive Program. With you, our members, recruiting the next generation of sheet metal workers and roofers, we will strengthen our locals and set the standard for decades to come.

We have been building momentum as we strive for a better Canada and a brighter future. Please continue to stay active, get involved and stay safe!

In Solidarity,

Chris Paswisty
Director of Canadian Affairs

Terry Belleville retired in summer 2023, following more than four decades in the unionized sheet metal trade.

Belleville started his sheet metal apprenticeship with Local 47 (Ottawa, Ontario) in the 1970s, becoming a journeyperson in 1979. He started serving his union as a member of the Local 47 executive board in 1985 before becoming an organizer for the local in October 1987. He successfully ran for business agent in July 1988, serving in that position until June 2000, before serving as the local’s business manager from July 2000 until February 2007. He became a SMART international representative in March 2007.

Belleville was instrumental in forming the eastern Ontario Members’ Assistance Program, which has evolved across Ontario for any building trades member, including Local 47 and other SMART members in the province. He has also worked to form the Daryl Lecuyer Memorial Softball Tournament, helping to raise thousands of dollars for the Members’ Assistance Program.

Terry has one son, Chris, and one daughter, Ashley, with his late wife Marilyn, as well as two granddaughters. SMART thanks you and wishes you a long and healthy retirement, Terry!

Local 47 (Ottawa, Ontario) sheet metal worker Stuart Simpson started his tradesperson career at a nonunion sheet metal shop. Unlike many nonunion contractors, though, his employer ended up actively encouraging Simpson and his coworkers to join SMART – resulting in a “truly life-changing” shift that Simpson says has transformed the trajectory of his career, leading him to become Local 47’s training coordinator. Read more in his BE4ALL member story:  

“I got into sheet metal at a local shop in 1996. I became a registered apprentice and went through my five-year apprenticeship, attended three intakes at our local college (eight weeks each time), wrote my certificate of qualification and became a licensed journeyperson in 2002.

“I joined SMART back in 2011 – before becoming a union member, I worked for a nonunion shop. We normally worked long hours, usually for straight time, and we were paid time and a half when it was available. My employer at the time decided that we should all join the union because of the benefits SMART membership provided. It was a good employer that wanted to give its employees a better future. We were provided with a good pension plan and great benefits, as well as a nice wage increase! My employer did the best it could to provide good benefits and a pension; however, joining the union was an amazing decision. I am truly grateful for that. I was fortunate to work for that company for 19.5 years before it closed its doors.

“Once I became a union member, I started attending union meetings and learned more about what the union has done and could do for its members. By attending more union functions, I got to know the officers of the union, and when my union reached out looking for an instructor to assist with safety training, I submitted my name. Thankfully they liked what I had to offer, and I became one of the safety trainers. Shortly after I also became the part-time training coordinator, and after a few years they brought me on full time to serve as the permanent training coordinator.

“Over the last five years our local has expanded its safety training, brought in two more instructors, and most recently we were awarded our TDA (training delivery agent) status, which will allow us to start teaching the 308A Red Seal sheet metal and the 449A Red Seal roofer programs in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I am so grateful to be a part of SMART, for the education it has provided me, as well as the many skill upgrade opportunities I’ve been able to access. Honestly, joining the union was transformational for me, not only from a financial position, but also because the things I’ve learned and the courses I’ve attended have truly changed my life. When I meet new apprentices, I tell them to take every opportunity to grow their skills, as learning is a lifelong journey. Thank you SMART for all you have done and continue to do for us!”

Local 473 (London, Ontario) member Patrick Gordon took a long, somewhat convoluted journey into the union sheet metal trade – one that brought him face-to-face with the exploitation and disregard that often afflicts nonunion workers, and demonstrated first-hand the union difference. That makes his current job as an organizer even better, he says: “I feel blessed that my job now is to go and talk to nonunion workers about how great it is to join SMART.” Read more from Gordon’s BE4ALL “How I became a SMART member” submission:

“After I graduated high school, I didn’t know what I wanted for a career. I went to an unemployment centre in my small town; they suggested a trade, and I chose sheet metal. I was sent to work for a nonunion company – after working there for three years and not being signed up for an apprenticeship (as required by law), I was let go from that job due to circumstances beyond my control. Little did I know: That was a blessing in disguise.

“I couldn’t find any jobs in the small community I lived in. A friend of mine was living in a larger neighbouring city and already working as an apprentice in the United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters. He suggested I join the sheet metal workers union – I exclaimed that I didn’t even know such a thing existed! I was so excited to start a new career in a union, where I would be protected from unjust discharge among other great things.

“Unfortunately, I had another setback due to a contractor. However, this time a brother stuck up for me and had my back, and made sure the business manager knew that the contractor was in the wrong. That was a huge moment for me: to see someone pick me up when I was down and have a brother have my back. I definitely knew that this was the career for me; not only that, but that I belonged to an organization that would always look out for my best interests.

“This past spring, I received my 15-year pin as a member of SMART. I have served as an executive board member for nine and a half years, and I’ve been working as an organizer for five and a half years. I am so proud to be a SMART member, I am so grateful for the opportunities this organization has provided for me and my family, and I feel blessed that my job now is to go and talk to nonunion workers about how great it is to join SMART.”

On March 28, the Government of Canada released the 2023 Federal Budget, which included strong investments to build Canada’s green economy. The definition of prevailing wage outlined in this budget is one of the strongest in Canada’s history. Tying incentives to a prevailing wage that incorporates union compensation, including benefits and pension contributions, will raise workers’ living standards, maximize benefits for the entire economy and create good-paying, middle-class jobs as Canada transitions to sustainable energy.

The government has an opportunity to make significant progress towards Canada’s net-zero goals. We applaud Natural Resources Canada for obtaining and considering the diverse perspectives and impacts its net-zero strategy may have; now it is time to make bold moves to decarbonize buildings. Canada is falling behind on its Pan-Canadian Framework measures, and an increase in retrofit rates, from 1% to 3-5%, is required to reduce green-house gases emissions. For Canada to meet its goals, regulations must include time-bound commitments for net-zero emissions and energy efficiency standards.

Industry is ready to support this transition. We are ready to grow and meet the demand by welcoming Canadians into the skilled trades, and we will collaborate with the government to continue driving Canadians towards a career in the trades. Students, minority groups, new Canadians and transitioning workers should continue to be a priority.

As Canada pursues the retrofitting of all buildings to hit net-zero emissions by 2050, SMART members will play a critical role.

The Canada Green Buildings Strategy cannot leave any Canadian behind and must include cooperation with provincial, municipal and Indigenous governments, as well as appropriate provisions of support. Without a strategy to support low-income Canadians, Canada will not achieve net-zero emissions. These five million Canadians have been largely left out of the energy transition to date – even though low-income family dwellings tend to account for a significantly higher proportion of emissions in housing building stock. The green buildings strategy must also consider the unique characteristics and needs of Indigenous housing. We must continue to make this a priority.

On June 15, forward progress continued when the government tabled Bill C-50, which addresses Canada’s transition to a carbon neutral economy while supporting workers and creating sustainable jobs. Among other things, this bill would create a sustainable Jobs Partnership Council to encourage sustainable job creation and support workers and communities, as well as establish a Sustainable Jobs Action Plan and Secretariat. As Canada pursues the retrofitting of all buildings to hit net-zero emissions by 2050, SMART members will play a critical role. HVAC uses 35% of the energy in buildings (up to 65% in the residential sector); energy efficiency improvements will reduce carbon emissions. We must use our expertise and be a resource for local, provincial and the federal government in achieving sustainability goals.

To close: On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to thank retired General President Joseph Sellers for his years of dedication and service during a career of passion and advocacy, of representing workers in all sectors, from the local to the International level. You have been a strong leader and a voice for the inclusion of all workers in our organization, ensuring that we have each other’s back. The programs and initiatives that you fostered and promoted will be a great legacy for SMART. We wish you a long and healthy retirement, enjoying time for yourself and Beth along with friends and family!

In Solidarity,

Chris Paswisty
Director of Canadian Affairs