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Consultations begin on bill to modernize construction industry

Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press The Minister of Labor of Quebec, Jean Boulet, during the tabling of his bill, on February 1, in the National Assembly

Thomas Laberge – The Canadian Press in Quebec


  • Quebec

Consultations on Bill 51 which aims to modernize the construction industry begin Tuesday in the National Assembly, against a backdrop of discontent from the unions. The Minister of Labor, Jean Boulet, assures that “everything in the bill is open to discussion”.

“There’s nothing off the table. […] The important thing is to make recommendations that are respectful of the objectives that we have, that is to say, to reduce delays, to reduce costs, to have more flexible work organizations” , he said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

The minister assures that he has no fear due to the discontent that his bill already arouses. “I am happy to begin consultations. […] It always makes me feverish. It is a bill that is moderate, balanced and perfectible,” he assures.

Bill 51 tabled in February by the Minister of Labor aims to ensure greater mobility of workers between the regions of Quebec and to increase the versatility of workers by allowing task sharing between certain trades .

If employers' organizations generally applauded the tabling of this bill, it is different for unions, who are worried about the repercussions on their members. The FTQ-Construction demonstrated Tuesday in front of the National Assembly.

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Mobility and versatility

The union association which represents 90,000 members is critical of the government's desire to allow greater mobility of construction workers between regions. “It is the people, the fathers and mothers who raise their children in these regions, who will have problems working in their own administrative region. It is not true that there will be work at full capacity in all administrative regions of Quebec,” maintains the general director of the FTQ-Construction, Éric Boisjoly in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Minister Boulet defends this measure in his legislative document. “It’s important to prioritize regional hiring, workers who are available and who want to work hours. But we must ensure that the industrial projects that are going to be carried out almost everywhere in Quebec — whether we are thinking of the battery or energy sector — that we have the workforce available to ensure that these projects see the light of day as quickly as possible. Interregional mobility is still conditional, it is controlled,” he explains.

Current regional hiring priority rules mean that an employer who lands a contract in a region other than its own can take a limited number of its regular workers there. He must also hire workers in the region where he won this contract.

The FTQ-Construction also fears that the greater versatility required of construction workers will have an impact on their safety. Éric Boisjoly maintains that it is already possible for a tiler, for example, to get his skills card in another field, but that this is a marginal phenomenon. “Why ? Because people want to be competent, they want to be employable and they want to be productive in their field of activity,” he says.

Here again, the minister maintains that the bill frames the question of versatility in order to avoid perverse effects. “There are a certain number of conditions in the law which make it possible to prevent this from having a negative impact on the quality of construction, so as not to contradict the skills of the workers and so as not to have it negative impact on their health and safety. This is to enable more agile execution of work on construction sites,” said Mr. Boulet.

Certain professions will be excluded from this sharing of tasks, for safety reasons, such as those of electrician, plumber, elevator mechanic and crane operators, except those who work on boom trucks .

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116