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CAMPAIGN: Diversifying Canada's Skilled Trades (2022)

How LiUNA Is Strengthening Opportunities for Canada’s Workforce

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Sara Henry_LiUNA

Sara Henry

LiUNA Sister, Sarnia

Calvin Brown_LiUNA

Calvin Brown

LiUNA Brother

Brittany Anderson_LiUNA

Brittany Anderson

LiUNA Sister, Graduate of LIUNA’s Partnership with Aecon

The Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) members are one of the foundational pillars of the Canadian economy, and the skilled trades are a driving force of much of the country’s economic development. Ensuring that our workforce is a reflection of the communities we build is at the forefront of LiUNA’s advocacy.

Giving every worker a safe, respectful, and fair workplace must be the goal of every trade. We’re taking all steps forward to empower opportunity, strengthen retention, and build a strong, equitable workforce. This means doing much more than simply setting hiring quotas for women. Quotas assume the playing field is equal, and all employers need to do is hire more women. The reality is much more challenging than this. We need to provide an environment to acquire the training and knowledge that will ensure a path to success. We must recognize and develop the talent, skill, and ability that women and every worker bring to the job and ensure they’re treated equitably.

The advocacy efforts of LiUNA combined with boots-on-the-ground implementation are taking critical steps forward to dismantle structural barriers and challenge the assumptions and implicit biases that have traditionally prevented women and BIPOC communities from entering the construction industry.

LEADing the way

The Labourers’ for Equity and Diversity (LEAD) campaign reaffirms our steadfast commitment to building and empowering stronger, inclusive communities across our country with zero tolerance for hate, racism, or discrimination. This initiative established by the LiUNA Provincial District Council is a step forward in our advocacy to enact positive reform and to ensure that this advocacy translates into action to raise industry standards for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. By working together, we can lead a stronger, inclusive pathway forward.

LEAD combines both local and national initiatives within our organization, which are embedded in the history and foundation of LiUNA across North America, including the Women in Trades Department, Indigenous Relations Department, African American Caucus, opportunities for newcomers, youth at risk, and numerous others. By working proactively and collaboratively with industry, community, and government partners, we are advancing opportunities for Canada’s workforce, and LiUNA training plays a key role in our success.

Worker standing on small crane

LiUNA training and mentorship programs

LiUNA training and mentorship programs are a gateway to a rewarding career path with tremendous opportunities for advancement. Through our commitment to advocacy, outreach, and apprenticeship programs, the hands-on skills acquired through LiUNA training are life-changing tools to ensure job site safety, confidence, and tangible skills required for building stronger, sustainable communities across Canada.

Motivated by ongoing challenges faced in the industry, we continue to take bold action to enact change. Training partnerships have advanced opportunities for women in the industry, including our ongoing partnership with Aecon Women in Trades, Construction Craft Worker pre-apprenticeship programs with the YWCA Hamilton, West of Windsor, and numerous others, which have collectively strengthened the representation of apprentices working in tandem with government-supported initiatives such as the Ontario Skills Development Fund and the federal Union Training Innovation Program (UTIP). Working collaboratively with local school boards, the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), and at-risk youth, we continue to dismantle barriers and amplify career-building opportunities while ensuring positive retention through hands-on training, mentorship, and inclusive field experience.

The men and women of LiUNA

Meet Sara Henry, LiUNA Sister in Sarnia, who shared her journey on how a career with LiUNA changed her life as an Indigenous woman, inspiring her community members to explore the opportunities that exist in the construction industry. With investments by the Ontario government Skills Development Fund, our ongoing partnership with local Indigenous communities was able to take one step further and remove the barrier of transportation. LiUNA Mobile Training units are also a key source of eliminating this barrier, ensuring everyone in all spaces has access to tools to reach their full potential.

LiUNA Brother Calvin Brown built his career with LiUNA in partnership with Building Up Toronto as a single father who now works on a large transit project in the city. His skill and perseverance will forever be embedded in this infrastructure that so many individuals and families will rely on. Beyond brick and mortar, Brother Brown built a better life for his family by earning an income, industry-leading health and wellness benefits, and retirement security.

Working in the construction industry is more than a job. It’s a career with pride in knowing “We Built That.” LiUNA Sister Brittany Anderson, a graduate of our partnership with Aecon, shares her life-changing journey. “I love working in the trades. It has changed my life in so many ways. It’s amazing to have found my true calling. A career in which I feel accomplished every day. It has empowered me to be myself and be more outspoken. Being challenged daily in the best ways possible has truly strengthened me physically and mentally. It has been extremely rewarding to have become a lead hand and working toward a role as a foreperson since my construction craft worker apprenticeship and starting my career in utilities as a labourer.”

I love working in the trades. It has changed my life in so many ways. It’s amazing to have found my true calling. A career in which I feel accomplished every day. It has empowered me to be myself and be more outspoken.

These are the journeys that must continue to be told. These are the faces, the skill, and the perseverance of the men and women of LiUNA who build and better Canada. The future of our industry and of our country can only succeed with a skilled, inclusive workforce. Without skilled labour, we cannot build important infrastructure projects — like homes, transit, and hospitals that our communities rely on each and every day.

We must continue to work collectively to eliminate barriers, empower equal opportunity, and translate advocacy into action. If we can successfully do so, we can become a global leader in building an equitable workforce. LiUNA stands ready to empower opportunity for the men and women who build up our economy and better the future of our country.

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