Alberta’s building trades hopeful of federal help after meeting with Trudeau

The organization that represents the army of skilled tradespeople who work in Alberta's hard-hit resource sector is hopeful after what it calls its "historic" meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

EDMONTON — The organization that represents the army of skilled tradespeople who work in Alberta’s hard-hit resource sector is hopeful after what it calls its “historic” meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Warren Fraleigh, executive director of the Building Trades of Alberta, spoke with Trudeau on Monday night about what Ottawa can do to help the 75,000 members of 16 unions weather the economic downturn.

“I think he gets it. We walked out of that meeting believing the prime minister meaningfully understands what our issues are and he is looking for ways to help us,” Fraleigh said Tuesday.

“They are truly interested and concerned about the challenges here in Alberta.”

Thousands of skilled workers from other provinces who were flying in and out of Alberta to work have been laid off and have gone home.

There are enough construction and facility maintenance projects to keep many of the workers who remain in the province on the job over the next few months, but they are expected to feel the crunch later this year and in 2017, Fraleigh said.

The unions want the federal government to do what it can to keep its members working, including those who are trying to complete their apprenticeships.

Fraleigh said they have asked Trudeau to broaden the definition of projects that could receive federal infrastructure money beyond roads, schools and public buildings.

Part of the goal is to ensure that this force of skilled tradespeople such as pipefitters, boilermakers, electricians and welders doesn’t melt away before the economy picks up again.

Fraleigh said Trudeau didn’t make any promises, but appreciates that these people will be needed when the price of oil rebounds.

The federal government has been saying it wants to expedite $13 billion in existing national infrastructure cash allocated in 2014-15 by the previous Conservative government, but never spent. Of that sum, $704 million is earmarked for Alberta.

The building trades also want the federal government to improve and simplify the Employment Insurance system.

Skilled workers in other provinces hurting from the downturn also stand to benefit if Trudeau delivers, said Robert Blakely, spokesman for Canada’s Building Trades.

Blakely said there is hope that a measured response from Ottawa, with input from the labour movement, will lead to better programs.

He said since the Liberals took office in the fall there is a new spirit that things are going to happen.

“When was the last time a prime minister of Canada when going through Edmonton went and met with the business managers of the construction unions and said, ‘How’s it going and what can I do to help you?,”‘ Blakely said from Ottawa.

“If nothing else, at least he is listening.”

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Red Deer College Queens host third annual Pink in the Rink game

The RDC Queens picked up an extra special victory on home ice… Continue reading

PHOTOS: The Mustard Seed CEO speaks at Seeds of Hope Gala in Red Deer

The first-ever Seeds of Hope Gala was held at the Red Deer… Continue reading

PHOTO: Renewable Energy Fair at Red Deer College

The Renewable Energy Fair and Workshops event was held at Red Deer… Continue reading

Person airlifted to hospital after collision near Innisfail

One person was airlifted to hospital after a serious collision west of… Continue reading

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

‘Stupid’ law preventing Canada’s re-engagement with Iran: retired envoy

OTTAWA — The real reason the Liberal government hasn’t been able to… Continue reading

Voters head to polls for BC municipal elections today

VANCOUVER — Voters in British Columbia will head to the polls today… Continue reading

All sharks tagged in N.S. expedition can now be tracked on Ocearch website

HALIFAX — All six of the sharks tagged in Nova Scotian waters… Continue reading

Memorial service for former PQ minister Lise Payette today in Montreal

MONTREAL — Mourners will gather to remember former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister… Continue reading

Immunotherapy scores a first win against some breast cancers

For the first time, one of the new immunotherapy drugs has shown… Continue reading

‘Mom I’m in trouble:’ Canadian, Brit face 10 years in jail for alleged graffiti

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — The mother of a Canadian who was arrested… Continue reading

Coyote on the prowl near Penhold

This coyote was out on the prowl in a field just west… Continue reading

Most Read