Fresh Takes

Opening Up the Construction Trades Is a Must

The scarcity of labour is leading to longer delays and rising costs for construction projects.

Faced with this situation, the minister of labour, Mr. Jean Boulet, signalled his wish to reform the industry in order to reduce the pressure from this lack of workers. According to the minister, this reform will be introduced in the fall through a bill that will among other things tackle the rigidity of the construction trades system. He said that the legislative text will propose an opening up of these trades, namely to reduce the number of reserved acts.

This decompartmentalization will certainly help our industry become more competitive and reduce costs and delays by allowing workers qualified in certain trades to lend a hand to those certified for other tasks. That being said, the minister should push things a little further and reduce the number of distinct trades requiring certification in Quebec.

There are 25 different trades recognized in the construction industry in Quebec, from electrician to plasterer. And each of these trades has its areas of exclusive competences. You want to have some tiles laid? You have to call a tilesetter. A resilient flooring layer (who lays rubber or linoleum, for instance) cannot do this work, despite the similarities.

This rigidity in the construction trades is not the norm, either. Across the Ottawa River, in Ontario, certification is required only for seven of the construction trades. This system has the advantage of being more flexible, both for work providers and for workers, who are able to bid on more projects and on a greater number of tasks within those projects.

Quebec should take a page from its neighbour.

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