A Look Back at 2022
/ Author: Ian DeWaard
/ Categories: Guide magazine /
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A Look Back at 2022

CLAC in Ontario experienced growth in membership but also significant program advancements for members

By Ian DeWaard, Ontario Director

As I write this update on activity in Ontario, it’s nearing the end of the year. It’s a good time to reflect on and review the major events of 2022. I’m grateful to the growing number of members who continue to choose CLAC to help them tackle their workplace challenges.

In Ontario in 2022, contract negotiations in more than 120 workplaces were started or completed. Workers in 15 workplaces elected to join CLAC, entrusting us to bargain their collective agreements, provide expert advice on matters of contract and employment law, and deliver the array of member programs, such as training, health and welfare benefits, a pension plan, bursaries, scholarships, job placement in new careers, and more.

Of special note this year, we welcomed back workers at Albright Gardens, a long term care home in Beamsville. Having tried representation elsewhere, these workers sent a clear and decisive message by voting 92 percent in favour of rejoining CLAC.

When these workers left CLAC, they were promised great things from their new union. But during the last three years, they discovered that bigger is not better, anger is not persuasion, and boasting is not action. By contrast, in electing to rejoin CLAC, they have affirmed that strong representation requires principled, positive worker advocacy and patient and persistent presence.

Tackling the Skills Shortage

A particular focus of our work last year was tackling the ongoing construction skills shortage. With support from Ontario’s Skills Development Fund, CLAC Training in Ontario launched three new and important programs that offer members improved skill sets and a variety of supports for new workers and new apprentices.

Our Construction Bootcamp program provides workers new to construction with two weeks of onboarding and orientation in basic technical and safety skills. They then enjoy an 8-week paid placement, and a total of 26 weeks of various supports designed to help them adjust to and succeed in their new career. Fifty bootcamp participants entered a new career in construction last year!

The Supervisor Micro-Certification Program (SMCP) is geared to current and future onsite construction leaders. Through a six-module program (with additional elective courses rolling out in 2023), leaders develop people-centric skills to tackle difficult conversations, create safer workplaces, reduce conflict, and increase productivity. Many leaders are promoted because of their expertise as skilled tradespersons, but the SMCP elevates their leadership skills, which in turn improves workplace culture and enhances the work experience and workplace community for the entire work site.

In December, CLAC received government approval to operate an apprentice Group Sponsorship Program (GSP), which allows us to enter directly into Registered Training Agreements for member apprentices. With this program, we’ll be able to make it easier for employers to take on new apprentices, and we will be better able to support apprentices on their learning journey. The GSP will complement the range of supports that CLAC already offers apprentices, which includes, among other things, trade school reimbursement and support for testing and exam preparation.

Training Opportunities

In addition to these new programs, we continue to offer a full slate of safety and skill programs to construction members. In 2022, we issued over 10,000 certificates for courses offered to members. As well, the CLAC Jobs Team in Ontario provides employment opportunities for members in the construction industry who face work shortages when projects come to completion.

As advocates for better workplaces and improved working conditions, we consider it a privilege and a responsibility to provide meaningful and effective opportunities for skills upgrading and for new and future opportunities for construction workers. Their contributions help to build a flourishing and vibrant place for all Ontarians to live, work, and play in.

Turning to the new  year, now three months underway, there will be lots to do. But it promises to be another exciting and action-packed year. Stay tuned!

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