The Mechanical Insulators Labor Management Cooperative Trust (LMCT) maintains a political presence in Canada monitoring developments, which can have an impact on our industry and our members.
This page will display updates on various bills and federal political issues, which affect the mechanical insulation industry. At times, the LMCT may seek assistance in shaping opinion on certain issues or legislation. This may include letter writing campaigns or other forms of feedback sent to individual legislators.
We will do our best to keep you informed, but if members come across topics, which might require our attention, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Government of Canada
Canada’s Insulators have strong support and excellent engagement with the Canada Building Trades Union (CBTU) and other stakeholders. The end of 2019 saw Canadian Conference (Eastern) International Vice President Paul Faulkner participate in the CBTU policy conference, setting priorities for the Building Trades going into 2020. There was considerable alignment on federal priorities across the trades for the Liberal government, including labour mobility, asbestos strategy and community benefits agreements.
National Asbestos Strategy
A re-elected Liberal government brought some familiar faces to cabinet portfolios critical to advancing insulator priorities, such as a national Mesothelioma Patient Registry, a national asbestos strategy and, of course, energy efficiency and “green buildings” programs. In particular, former Labour Minister Patty Hajdu, who has been a strong ally of the Canadian Building Trades Union and Heat and Frost Insulators, is now the federal Minister for Health - an essential decision-maker for asbestos related priorities.
In January, Insulators in Ontario Government and Community Relations Director Adam Melnick joined Asbestos Free Canada Coordinator Alec Farquhar for a meeting with Minister Hajdu to discuss a comprehensive strategy to address the harmful presence of asbestos in our built environment and the on-going legacy of disease stemming from past and current exposures. As part of this strategy, there is broad consensus the important next step and the natural extension of the government’s ban on asbestos is a national Mesothelioma Patient Registry.
Minister Hajdu was receptive to this advocacy and tasked a senior policy advisor, as well as an Assistant Deputy Minister at Health Canada, to work with the group to connect with other key decision-makers in government. This included a subsequent meeting with the office of the new Minister of Labour Filomena Tassi, who is well connected to the labour community representing the “Steeltown” Hamilton area. Fortunately, her Health and Safety Policy Advisor was a familiar contact for insulator advocates, having worked for her predecessor Minister Hajdu and having met with the Canadian Conference (Eastern) International Vice President Paul Faulkner last summer, along with representatives from the CBTU and Asbestos Free Canada.
The next meeting at the Ministry of Labour was highly productive, as Melnick was joined by the International’s Government Relations team from Summa Strategies to lay the groundwork for the government to take meaningful steps in 2020 to advance this priority. The meeting helped to set up a subsequent meeting with Minister Tassi herself in March, which included the International’s Paul Faulkner, Adam Melnick and Lee Loftus, former Business Manager for Local 118 and current board member of WorkSafe BC.
We have also engaged decision makers from the Prime Minister’s policy team, including the Ministry of Infrastructure - given the importance of the inventory of asbestos in buildings. Additionally, Faulkner met newly empowered Members of Parliament from the Bloc Quebecois. These newly elected MPs are part of the Bloc caucus, which holds the balance of power for Prime Minister Trudeau’s minority Liberal government in Canada’s Parliament. The political significance of Quebec, and the province’s complicated history with the asbestos industry, place high importance on building awareness and support with these elected officials.
Insulator advocacy with the federal government has focused on connecting political decision-makers and government officials in the three key departments in order to convene a government led working group to work on this issue. Health Canada must remain the driving force behind the initiative, given the required coordination with provincial health authorities and its experience working on other patient health registries. We are also working with the office of the Minister of Infrastructure and the Ministry of Labour to advance our proposal to convene a coordinating body composed of government decision-makers, as well as external experts, such as the Canadian Mesothelioma Foundation, Asbestos Free Canada and other health and safety leaders.
Canada’s Building Trades have had regular engagements with senior members of Prime Minister Trudeau’s Cabinet regarding the pandemic and the government’s support programs. As a Director of the CBTU, Faulkner has participated in virtual meetings with the Minister of Infrastructure Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Employment and Skills Development Carla Qualtrough, the Minister of Labour Filomena Tassi and the Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Reagan.
As part of the meeting with Infrastructure Minister McKenna, Faulkner was able to brief the Minister on the specific benefits and value of mechanical insulation in terms of reducing energy consumption and costs, as well as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Minister McKenna was previously the Minister of Environment and has been tasked by the Prime Minister to work with her colleagues, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and Heritage Minister Stephen Guilbeault, to ensure the government’s recovery plans will help Canada transition to a low carbon economy.
Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) Growth Plan
On October 1st, 2020, the federal government announced the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) Growth Plan. The $10 billion plan features a strong green focus, including energy efficiency retrofits. The proposal is set to cover projects such as commercial building renovations or municipal purchases of electric bus fleets in exchange for being repaid over time through the expected energy and other savings.
Specific energy-retrofit commitments — free energy audits, interest-free loans and mobilizing private capital to pursue deep retrofits of office towers — were included in the mandate letters issued to federal ministers following the 2019 federal election. Of course, that was before COVID-19 spread through Canada, requiring the federal government to reassess spending priorities. We will have to consider the refreshed mandate letters, which are expected this fall, to see if the government still intends to move forward with those commitments.
The COVID-19 Economic Response Plan will shed more light on how the government intends to move forward on specific commitments related to any general policy priorities highlighted in the mandate letter. The economic response plan will serve the role of an economic statement or fall economic update, and it’s expected to be released following mandate letters this fall.
The CIB Growth Plan will invest in five major initiatives
- $2.5 billion for clean power to support renewable generation and storage and to transmit clean electricity between provinces, territories, and regions, including to northern and Indigenous communities.
- $2 billion to connect approximately 750,000 homes and small businesses to broadband in underserved communities, so Canadians can better participate in the digital economy.
- $2 billion to invest in large-scale building retrofits to increase energy efficiency and help make communities more sustainable.
- $1.5 billion for agriculture irrigation projects to help the agriculture sector enhance production, strengthen Canada’s food security, and expand export opportunities.
- $1.5 billion to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission buses and charging infrastructure so Canadians can have cleaner commutes.
Major programs from the Canadian Federal Government includes the Climate Action Incentive Fund (CAIF) and natural resources for Canada.The Climate Action Incentive Fund (CAIF) is a new Environment and Climate Change Canada program, distributing up to $218M in its first year (2019-2020), funded from the proceeds of the federal carbon pollution pricing system. Funding is available where provinces have not devoted to their own carbon pollution pricing systems and would benefit from funding for projects to decrease energy usage, reduce carbon pollution, and save money.