David Piccini, Ontario’s new Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, called upon the province’s demolition industry to “get active” in public policy.
Piccini recently moved into his new Minister role, following the resignation of Monte McNaughton in September.
“Too often public policymakers, academics and others who’ve never stepped foot on the jobsite will tell you the only way to a net zero future is through retrofits alone. You all know that’s not the reality,” Piccini told the World Demolition Summit, which was held in Toronto on October 18-19.
He explained the economic circularity created by demolition is impressive from an environmental standpoint and creates new opportunities in recycling and job creation.
“So please get active. We know that our success as a province depends on you. We need to build things, our schools, our hospitals, everything depends on you,” Piccini said.
He added the province needs an “all hands on deck” approach to construction to tackle the housing and transit plans promised by the provincial government.
“For too long in this province, public policy was marred with delay, after delay, after delay,” he said. “Well today in Toronto as you look around, we have more cranes in the sky than the top eight United States cities combined. Ontario’s building, and we recognize the need to build a more prosperous future.”
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Skilled labour shortage
On the skilled labour shortage, Piccini outlined some of the initiatives taken by the government to attract more workers to the trades. He explained the province has dedicated close to $1 billion to the Skills Development Fund Training Stream to address the labour shortage. Since the program’s launch in 2021, it has supported nearly 600 projects and hired 500,000 people, including many careers in construction and demolition.
“As we look out at the next generation of people, we know that when you’ve got a job in the trades, you’ve got a career for life,” he said. “Not only is it meaningful, fulfilling jobs where you can see the results of your work take place in front of you, but it paves the way for entrepreneurship, empowerment and financial security.”
Piccini also noted the provincial government is making jobsite safety a priority. He explained provincial inspectors are visiting jobsites across the province to ensure workers are safe. As well, Ontario has also increased fines under the Occupational Health & Safety Act to the highest amount in Canada.
“The safety of workers is non-negotiable,” he said. “We’re going to continue to work tirelessly with employers to improve conditions on job sites across the province.”
Piccini added he is optimistic that working with the province’s construction and demolition sectors will secure Ontario’s ability to build a better future.
“You are the people here who lay the foundations of our cities, develop the infrastructure that connects our communities and build the homes that hosts our families,” Piccini said. “The work goes beyond bricks and mortar. It’s about shaping the future of our province.”