MOL recognition of Newfoundland heights training will boost construction workforce

Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development is taking steps to enable boilermakers and other skilled trades workers from Newfoundland and Labrador to find construction jobs in Ontario more easily.

Minister Monte McNaughton is proposing to amend O. Reg. 297/13 to recognize that fall-prevention training approved by WorkplaceNL is an acceptable alternative to completion of Ontario’s approved working at heights training.

The potential number of workers who will find their accreditation accelerated might not be great but McNaughton says it sends a message that Ontario supports labour mobility and reducing red tape. He said he has heard boilermakers addressing the credentials issue ever since he was in opposition.

“I am really excited,” he said. “We pride ourselves in saying that our office door is always open.

“To me this is a reasonable measure. This protects the health and safety of workers but also increases labour mobility. Newfoundland and Labrador has a high standard in working from heights training so we are going to recognize their training. We are going to look across the country to knock down barriers.”

The proposal would also expand an existing exemption so that it applies to more workplaces owned and operated by automobile manufacturers or assemblers.

McNaughton said boilerworkers are needed for such projects as nuclear refurbishment and petrochemical installations in southwestern Ontario.

“It provides labour where we are short and we are short a lot of boilermakers,” he stated.

Jonathan White, international representative with the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB), did not comment on specific shortages but said in an email, “The IBB is certainly in favour of eliminating redundant training and improving worker mobility when worker safety is maintained. Maintain safety, recognize equivalent training and improve worker mobility.”

McNaughton said it’s important to ensure there’s a steady supply of new workers to supplement the construction workforce. He quoted a report from the Conference Board of Canada that stated that with 200,000 jobs going unfulfilled, it costs $25 billion in lost GDP every year. He noted the most recent jobs report indicated there were thousands more working in construction than there were 60 days ago.

“The construction industry is going to play a lead role in the recovery of our economy,” said McNaughton.