PM Trudeau delivers remarks at the Canada’s Building Trades Unions Legislative Conference
Thank you yet again for inviting me to say a few words tonight.
It’s an honour to be with you and to help Canada’s Building Trades Unions launch what I know will be a successful conference. Last May, many of you came to Major’s Hill Park for the unveiling of the Canadian Building Trades Monument. I remember it well: it was a nice day, and we gathered together to unveil an important monument honouring Canadian workers. That day, I told you that I was pleased to take part in your annual conference for the fifth consecutive year, and today we are marking my sixth year of participating in your conference. However, my participation should come as no surprise to anyone because I sincerely believe that Canada’s Building Trades Unions and all unions in the country are essential partners for our government. After all, we share the same goals. We want Canadian workers to be safe, we want their jobs to be secure, and we want them to be well prepared for the future.
And we’ve accomplished some great things together; for example, we’ve enhanced the Canada Pension Plan so all workers have better access to high quality pensions and a more secure retirement. I want to say a particular thank you to all the people in this room who worked with us to build the case that that progress was essential. We’ve also invested heavily in skills training and apprenticeships because we know that our greatest Canadian resource is Canadians themselves. Thanks to these historic investments, hundreds of thousands more Canadians will have access to training opportunities if they become unemployed. More people will be able to go back to school if they want to pursue a new career, and union-based training centres from coast to coast to coast will have the equipment and support they need to help members and aspiring apprentices.
And this year we will finally, finally complete the last necessary steps to ban the manufacturing import, export and use of asbestos and asbestos-based products in this country.
I made the commitment to ban asbestos two years ago when I stood on this stage, and this is the year we will get it done. My friends, in talking about what we’ve achieved together, I could go on and on. Because at the very core of our progress for workers, we find groups like yours, always pushing us to do better, and to deliver. I really respect that about the CBTU. You’ve never shied away from tough conversations on the things that matter, and with good reason. 500,000 skilled tradespeople are counting on you. That’s an enormous responsibility, and believe me I also feel the weight of that responsibility as your Prime Minister. It’s what drives me every day to make sure we’re helping people achieve their dreams and build a better life for their families. That’s what I keep in mind as we deal with major questions like the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Now I support that project because it’s in the national interest. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians who work long hours every day to put food on their table, and to build this country, depend on that project. People in the oil patch have been hurting for years and we stand with them just as we stand with forestry workers in B.C., aerospace workers in Quebec, and auto workers in Ontario, and workers like them right across the country. The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is a vital strategic interest to Canada and it will be built.
My friends, I’m especially pleased that this year’s CBTU conference is focused on diversity, inclusion and respect in the workforce.
You all know what I think about diversity: I think it’s one of the best things that Canada has to offer the rest of the world. And when we think of the Canadian labour market, we can see with our own eyes that a diverse workforce is a strong, innovative and resilient workforce. Whether it’s women, newcomers, people with disabilities, Indigenous people, people from any segment of society that, historically, has been under-represented in the trades, we see enormous potential for growth and progress within the workforce, and in society as a whole. As a government, we are doing our part to make things better. We have implemented a new parental leave policy to allow the other parent to spend more time with their baby, and to allow mothers to return to work earlier if they want.
We’re investing in pre-apprenticeship programs to help those coming into the trades get the skills necessary to complete an apprenticeship and go on to a well-paying job. And to help close the major gender gap in apprenticeships, we’re also introducing a $6,000 grant for women entering red seal trades that are male-dominated.
This tailored support for skilled tradespeople is a result of the leadership shown by all of you. You’ve answered the call when it comes to recruiting, promoting and retaining a workforce that reflects the diversity of Canada. And as we continue to roll out the largest infrastructure program in Canadian history, we depend on you and your members. Your members will help us build the roads, bridges, transit projects, and affordable housing that are at the heart of a stronger middle class. So on behalf of the entire government, thank you. My friends, we will keep working with you in the years ahead because our country was built by tradespeople and our future depends on your continued success. Our government is proud to support the skilled trades and we’re proud to work with partners like CBTU to deliver a brighter, safer, more prosperous future for all Canadian workers.
Thank you very much.