Canada’s federal government will continue to reinforce efforts to attract youth to careers in the skilled trades, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“Canadians count on you to build the places we call home, places to set down roots, raise a family and celebrate anniversaries,” Trudeau told the conference. “That’s work to be proud of, so thank you for a job well done.”
Following his speech, Trudeau was asked how the federal government plans to address the perspective that skilled trades are a “lesser option” for youth, compared to enrolling in university.
“It’s a frustrating stigma that continues to be out there; that somehow your kids should go to university and not college,” Trudeau said. “Kids end up going to university, get a degree, and have to go to college anyway to be able to get a job they can take personal satisfaction in and support their lives.”
He added skilled trades will play a bigger role in employment as artificial intelligence and offshoring dig into existing career paths.
“There’s always going to be a need for highly skilled tradespeople, to be able to build homes and build their communities,” Trudeau said. “We’re launching a national campaign to look at the trades as the extraordinary career that it is.”
In Budget 2019, the government made several announcements designed to boost involvement in the trades, including $40 million over four years for Skills Canada, a new strategy to support apprentices, a Canada training benefit and the Women in Construction Fund.
“We also have to make sure everyone benefits from those opportunities,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau on infrastructure
On the topic of infrastructure, Trudeau said funding is what separated the Liberals from the NDP and Conservatives during the 2015 election.
“We said ‘we’re not going to balance the budget immediately’,” he said. “We put forward a $180 billion infrastructure investment across this country, over the next 10 years, to make sure we’re building better public transit and rebuilding roads and bridges.
“These are the kinds of things we know we needs to do to create better more livable and affordable communities.”
In many provinces, that plan is rolling out smoothly, but not in Ontario.
“The provincial government hasn’t put forward a single infrastructure project for us to move on,” Trudeau said. “Anything you can do to encourage them on infrastructure would be great as well.”
For the private sector, the government has added $10 billion for low costs loans to builders for the construction of low and middle-income rental housing, which has the potential to create about 42,000 new rental units.
“That’s going to reduce the stresses on the rental market,” Trudeau said.
Climate change is also grabbing the government’s attention when it comes to construction.
“Climate change is real and it’s a huge problem,” Trudeau said. “As we move forward we have to think about building better buildings differently and building in ways that are more resilient to the extreme weather effect.”
Part of building better, according to the Prime Minister, is construction that requires a smaller emissions footprint. Encouraging greener buildings is why the government has made changes to building codes, Trudeau explained.
“We know we need to be encouraging people to use new and better technologies and recognizing new technologies are a little more expensive,” he said. “We have to act now, but we have to act in ways that are affordable for people.”