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April 8, 2016
Working hard to create an environment in which BTA members can find and keep good, safe work, the Building Trades of Alberta took a big step forward on Tuesday when we hosted an Industry Reception for industry leaders, union leaders and government leaders, including the Premier herself!
All told, nearly 120 people attended, including 22 MLAs, 14 Ministers (including Labour, Energy, Advanced Education and Economic Development and Trade, as well as 16 other government representatives such as Deputy Ministers, Assistant Deputy Ministers and Chiefs of Staff. 30 presidents, CEOs / COOs and other senior leadership and government and labour relations professionals from organizations like Syncrude, Suncor, Enbridge, Capital Power, Keyera, NOVA Chemicals, Stantec, Shell, TransAlta, TransCanada and Northwest Refining also attended.
Trade Winds to Success, our proud partner working to help aboriginal youth explore and engage in the trades, along with the Resource Diversification Council were present, as well as 11 business managers and assistant business managers and 8 more representatives and agents from our Locals, plus CLRA and your team from the BTA.
Getting all of these people in the same room was a monumental task that was started in late fall last year and took many hours of coordinated effort from many different groups, but everyone involved agreed that the event was a huge success.
It created a forum for open dialogue between government, industry and labour – the likes of which have not taken place in recent years. This opportunity for the three main groups that need to collaborate in order to move the province forward by attracting investment, creating jobs and growing the Alberta economy was well worth the effort.
Some of the things we discussed include:
· Resource diversification and the opportunities for economic growth and job creation that can be realized through value-added product development and refining our bitumen into higher grade, higher profit products. The government’s Petrochemical Diversification Program is an indication of their commitment to this issue, just like the Resource Diversification Council shows the commitment of both industry and labour to this issue. To this end, there was a lot of discussion around the need for the second phase of the Northwest Redwater Upgrader to proceed.
· Market access is an absolute requirement if we as a province are going to be able to realize the gains we see as possible from our resource development. This includes getting our product to tidewater – especially via the Energy East pipeline.
· Workforce development and apprentice and trades training are critical to the future success of industry. The primary purpose of the BTA, as well as the government, is to attract, develop, and supply the skilled workers required by our contractors and owners for decades to come. Collectively, Building Trades Union Joint Training Trust Funds have invested more than 500 million dollars into our training programs and facilities over the last ten years, and there are many gains to be made from working together to enhance opportunities for groups historically under-represented in the trades, such as the Aboriginal community, women and veterans.
· Safety, as always, is an important topic – we used the event to help stress the importance that we place on safety in the workplace to the representatives from Alberta’s government and to give them an understanding and appreciation for the efforts labour and industry take to ensure members are able to go home to their families at the end of each shift.
· We also took this opportunity to demonstrate the value that the BTA and our membership have to Alberta communities by discussing the fact that the Building Trades of Alberta Charitable Foundation, with the support of donors and sponsors, has donated over $6 million back into the communities we live and work in.
The value of the event cannot be understated. It was an opportunity for government officials to learn more about the Building Trades of Alberta and our affiliated unions and to see what we do and understand what a valuable partner we can be, along with industry, in building the province together, but it was also an opportunity for us and for industry to demonstrate our united vision and willingness and enthusiasm to partner up and get working. Relationships that were started and strengthened on Tuesday will help labour, industry and government work together over the next several years and move the province forward.
What are your thoughts? What other things can be done to help create a province in which our members have all the safe, good quality work they want? Let us know what you think can help.