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Message delivered: building trades must diversify

By Don Wall
Published in Daily Commercial News

Adding diversity to the workplace is not only the right thing to do to reflect the faces of modern Canada, but it’s essential if the sector is going to deal with labour shortages.

That was the message delivered as the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario held its annual meeting in Niagara Falls, Ont. earlier this month.

The agenda included an address on the theme by an activist from outside the construction sector, Linda Weichel, vice-president of initiatives for CivicAction, and beyond that, most speakers pushed the need to attract more new Canadians, people of colour, indigenous Canadians and women to the construction workforce.


Weichel presented the business case for diversity. By 2031, Statistics Canada has reported, the number of workers who were born outside Canada will be one in three, she said.

“Diversity is a reality for our population, and the goal is to make it an asset in our workplaces,” she said.


“Over time, the issue of diversity and inclusion has moved away from being a nice to have to a need to have,” said Weichel. “Forty-eight per cent of organizations in the GTA now have a diversity and inclusion strategy.”

Recent research into 8,000 Canadian workplaces found that a one-per-cent increase in ethno-cultural diversity was associated with a 2.4-per-cent increase in revenues and a 0.5-per-cent improvement in workplace productivity.

And for every one-per-cent increase in gender diversity, there was a 3.5-per-cent increase in revenue and 0.7-per-cent increase in productivity.

“So let’s see, what comes with a more diversified workforce?” asked Weichel. “A bigger pool of candidates, the ability to meet procurement requirements and you are more competitive with non-unionized workforces.”

Read the full article here.