The Shift in Alberta’s Construction Work
By Jayson Bueckert, Fort McMurray Regional Director
For 15 years, we enjoyed a phenomenally stable construction phase in Alberta. Constant construction work became normal for us, but that is starting to change.
When I speak with members, I notice the difference between those of the older generation , who have gone through downturns , and the younger generation, who have gone from job to job with little interruption. Those who have seen this before knew that the tides would eventually shift. But for many of us, it is a new experience.
So what does this change look like? The 2017 Buildforce Construction and Maintenance Forecast projects that we will see a reduction in construction employment in Alberta by 11,000 workers starting this year and lasting until at least late 2018.
We see how this is beginning to occur as major projects wrap up at Suncor Fort Hills, JACOS, and NWR. Thousands of our members will become available, with very little new construction work to go to.
But it is not all gloom and doom. As these resource projects come on line, they will need to be maintained through long term maintenance and shutdown maintenance. But this work looks far different than construction. For example, long term maintenance is done on compressed work cycles where very little or no overtime is scheduled. The shifts are 7 and 7, 10 and 10, or sometimes 14 and 14. But it is steady, reliable work that will enable our members to provide for their families.
For the last 15 years, CLAC has thrived on construction. Our presence in the maintenance and shutdown world has been minimal. As our work opportunities change, we need to adjust how we approach the industry. For that we will need you to re-envision what your work looks like. In the next few months, we will be sending a survey out that asks for your availability to do this new kind of work. Watch for it in your emails and respond if you can. We want to hear from you.