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Construction trades: The CAQ reform is not ambitious enough, says the MEI

  • There are 13 trades for which certification is compulsory only in Quebec.

Montreal, March 28, 2024 – By maintaining the current number of regulated trades, Labour Minister Jean Boulet’s Bill 51 does not go far enough in decompartmentalizing the province’s construction trades, concludes a study published by the Montreal Economic Institute this morning.

“There will be as many trades requiring certification after Bill 51 is passed as there are now,” explains Gabriel Giguère, public policy analyst at the MEI and author of the study. “If Minister Boulet’s goal is to help the province build the infrastructure and the housing it needs, he should instead reduce the number of trades that require certification.”

Quebec has 25 construction trades with compulsory certification, the most of any province.

Alberta, the province with the second largest number of regulated trades, has only 11. In Ontario and in British Columbia, there are only seven.

The MEI study finds that there are 13 distinct construction trades for which Quebec is the only province to require certification. Among these are house painter, tile setter, and carpenter-joiner.

Bill 51, also known as the Act to modernize the construction industry, aims to decompartmentalize construction trades and increase productivity in this sector.

The bill allows for the possibility of accredited workers carrying out tasks other than those of their primary trade, but only if these tasks are related to the definition of their trade, are part of a single sequence of work, and are carried out in a single day.

The Quebec construction industry, the researcher points out, still has over 9,500 vacant positions.

“Between the housing shortage and Hydro-Québec’s projects, our construction needs for the coming years are enormous,” says Mr. Giguère. “With the industry already short of workers, the government should be more ambitious in its reform.”

The MEI study is available here.

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The MEI is an independent public policy think tank with offices in Montreal and Calgary. Through its publications, media appearances, and advisory services to policy-makers, the MEI stimulates public policy debate and reforms based on sound economics and entrepreneurship. 

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