BTA Blog

|Promoting Job Opportunities for Building Trades Workers

Promoting Job Opportunities for Building Trades Workers

How do we get more job opportunities for building trades workers? In my last blog in this series (Why is there less work in the oil sands now compared to 7-8 years ago?), I focussed on our efforts to promote careers in the building trades through career programs like Build Together, Trade Winds to Success, Skills Canada, and Helmets to Hardhats. Today, I discuss projects we support to create jobs for building trades workers. Here is where we are at.

The goal of every project we support is to find ways to maximize benefits for building trades workers.

We begin with what we already know from our Locals, building trades members, and government and industry partners about the needs, concerns, issues, and opportunities we all face.

At a national level, we often partner with Canada’s Building Trades Unions on campaigns to support job-creating projects.

We meet with and lobby industry, government, and opposition party leaders. These interactions are a two-way street. We explain our support for a project and the benefits the BTA, our Locals, and our members bring to the project. We learn about plans of our partners and discuss what we can do to meet their requirements and targets.

In meetings and on our website and social media channels, we pass what we learn back to our Locals and to building trades members. For updates, subscribe to this blog and follow BTA on Facebook and Twitter. And stay up to date through your local.

We also try to build the public case for projects that benefit Alberta’s building trades workers and our partners. We promote these projects in public meetings, traditional media (from TV interviews to newspaper op-eds), and online (from blogs to social media posts).

Here are a few examples of projects and initiatives we support. There is no better place to start than by looking at the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (TMX).

Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion

Why do we support TMX?

TMX can mean up to 15,000 construction jobs and some 37,000 spin-off jobs, including jobs for building trades workers. TMX can also mean new apprenticeships, including opportunities for women, Indigenous, new Canadian, and young workers. We all know that TMX can also partially solve Alberta’s problem with shut-in oil and prompt new investment and economic growth in our oil industry.

We have supported the efforts of the previous and the current Alberta government to

  • get TMX built
  • oppose Bill C48, which could block Alberta crude oil and oil product exports from the coast of British Columbia through the waters north of Vancouver Island
  • amend Bill C69, which could lead to unending delays on major infrastructure projects like interprovincial pipelines.

Here is how you can help

Community Benefit Agreements

Why do we support Community Benefit Agreements?

BTA supports Community Benefits Agreements for major infrastructure projects. Community Benefit Agreements can help to level the playing field for building trades workers. Provisions of Community Benefit Agreements often include

  • no lockouts of union contractors
  • training of new building trades apprentices
  • hiring of under-represented populations, including Indigenous, women, and new Canadian workers.

An Alberta Community Benefits Agreement framework could also

  • reduce the time and money government and industry spend in approval processes
  • align major infrastructure projects with Alberta’s regional, economic, environmental, and social development priorities
  • help train a new generation of skilled trades workers that Alberta needs.

Here is how you can help

Grassy Mountain Steelmaking Coal Project

Why do we support Grassy Mountain?

The construction of Grassy Mountain is estimated at $730 million over 21 months with some 910 person years of on- and off-site employment. During constructions, heavy equipment operators, welders, millwrights, pipefitters, iron workers, and electricians will be most in demand. Some of the millwright and iron worker jobs could last for up to 2 years after construction. Once in operation, the project will require about 385 full-time workers.

Here is how you can help

Frontier Oil Sands Project

Why do we support the Frontier Oil Sands Project?

Teck Resources Ltd. Is seeking government approval for the Frontier Oil Sands Project. If fully constructed, this oilsands mine could mean 7,000 construction jobs (75,000 person years of employment) and some 2,500 ongoing jobs. Alberta’s problems with shut-in oil mean the project has already been reduced from 4 stages to 2 stages.  The project is currently seeking approval.

Here is how you can help

  1. Use social media. Tweet about the project. Follow BTA on Facebook and TwitterLike posts and remember to retweet.
  2. Let your trade union local know you support the project. Follow your local on Facebook and Twitter.
  3. Contact your local MLA or MP.

Use your street address to find contact information for your MLA.

Use your postal code to find your MP.

Tell them:

“I support the approval of the Frontier Oil Sands Project. The project will create well paid jobs and make a major contribution to Alberta’s economy. I urge you to approve this important project and to support the hiring of the best qualified trades workers Alberta has to offer, the members of the Building Trades of Alberta.”

Frontier OIlsands Project

New Jobs Through Apprenticeships

You’ve probably noticed a pattern. When we support a project, we often focus on opportunities for new apprentices as a way of gaining jobs for current building trades members. Why?

  1. Government and industry are acutely aware of the impending shortage of building trades workers in Alberta and Canada. New projects create opportunities for new apprentices who will later become the backbone of the next generation of building trades workers. At every level, our building trades unions are in the forefront of training new apprentices. North America’s Building Trades Unions , Canada’s Building Trades Unions, the BTA and our Locals all campaign for and support apprenticeships. In short, we can deliver what government and industry need.
  2. Government and industry alike hope to attract some of these new building trades workers from underrepresented populations (women, Indigenous people, new Canadians, and youth). Again, at every level, the building trades unions already support these goals. The BTA and its locals have active programs and experience in attracting new building trades workers through programs like Build Together Alberta, Trade Winds to Success, Skills Canada Alberta, and Helmets to Hardhats. In short, we can deliver what government and industry need.
  3. Apprentices have to be trained. Government and industry need to offset some of that cost. The building trades unions have the training facilities and skilled and experienced instructors to intake new apprentices and provide them with the cutting-edge training that industry needs. In short, we can deliver what government and industry need.
Safety & Skills Training


Projects and initiatives like TMX, Community Benefit Agreements, Grassy Mountain Steelmaking Coal Project, and the Frontier Oil Sands Project can mean good, middle-class jobs for our building trades members. They can help to train the next generation of building trades workers and bring prosperity back to Alberta.

We all need to make sure governments, industry, Albertans, the media, and our own members know the value of these projects. I encourage you to promote them. Share this page on your favourite social media. Subscribe to this blog and follow BTA on Facebook and Twitter.

My next blog will look at our support for diversification of the Alberta economy.

About the Author:

Terry Parker
Prior to serving as the Executive Director of the BTA, Terry was the Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Building Trades Council for twelve years. Terry worked as a glazier and before becoming the ED for SBTC, he worked as a Business Agent for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. His extensive time in leadership roles has given him a wealth of experience in the unionized construction and maintenance industries.

Leave A Comment