Alberta's tradespeople hopeful of federal help after meeting with Trudeau

EDMONTON -- The organization that represents the army of skilled tradespeople who work in Alberta's hard-hit resource sector is hopeful after what it calls its "historic" meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

See Full Article

Warren Fraleigh, executive director of the Building Trades of Alberta, spoke with Trudeau on Monday night about what Ottawa can do to help the 75,000 members of 16 unions weather the economic downturn.

"I think he gets it. We walked out of that meeting believing the prime minister meaningfully understands what our issues are and he is looking for ways to help us," Fraleigh said Tuesday.

"They are truly interested and concerned about the challenges here in Alberta."

Thousands of skilled workers from other provinces who were flying in and out of Alberta to work have been laid off and have gone home.

There are enough construction and facility maintenance projects to keep many of the workers who remain in the province on the job over the next few months, but they are expected to feel the crunch later this year and in 2017, Fraleigh said.

The unions want the federal government to do what it can to keep its members working, including those who are trying to complete their apprenticeships.

Fraleigh said they have asked Trudeau to broaden the definition of projects that could receive federal infrastructure money beyond roads, schools and public buildings.

Part of the goal is to ensure that this force of skilled tradespeople such as pipefitters, boilermakers, electricians and welders doesn't melt away before the economy picks up again.

Fraleigh said Trudeau didn't make any promises, but appreciates that these people will be needed when the price of oil rebounds.

The federal government has been saying it wants to expedite $13 billion in existing national infrastructure cash allocated in 2014-15 by the previous Conservative government, but never spent. Of that sum, $704 million is earmarked for Alberta.

The building trades also want the federal government to improve and simplify the Employment Insurance system.

Skilled workers in other provinces hurting from the downturn also stand to benefit if Trudeau delivers, said Robert Blakely, spokesman for Canada's Building Trades.

Blakely said there is hope that a measured response from Ottawa, with input from the labour movement, will lead to better programs.

He said since the Liberals took office in the fall there is a new spirit that things are going to happen.

"When was the last time a prime minister of Canada when going through Edmonton went and met with the business managers of the construction unions and said, 'How's it going and what can I do to help you?,"' Blakely said from Ottawa.

"If nothing else, at least he is listening."


Latest Economic News

  • Red ink will rule, but optimism in the oilpatch as earnings released

    Economic CBC News
    Precision Drilling announced some full-on good news last week with its third-quarter earnings. Although the company lost $47 million in the third quarter and revenue was down by nearly a half, it also said that it had rehired 1,000 workers. Source
  • CN Rail slightly raises outlook for 2016 despite dip in Q3 profits, revenues

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Canadian National Railway Co. boosted its earnings forecast for 2016 despite seeing its profits and revenues decline in the third quarter. The Montreal-based railway raised it outlook for the year, saying it expects adjusted earnings will increase by about one per cent above the $4.44 per share earned last year. Source
  • Former Expos owner, Seagram's titan Charles Bronfman reflects on life as a 'late bloomer'

    Economic CTV News
    He steered Seagram's Co. Ltd. to great success and brought the Montreal Expos to Canada, but Canadian billionaire Charles Bronfman insists he was a "late bloomer," after years of struggling with low self-esteem in his early life. Source
  • iPhone 7 sales, holiday outlook in focus as Apple reports after the bell Tuesday

    Economic CBC News
    Apple Inc. will report fourth-quarter and full-year earnings after the close of trading Tuesday, with analysts expecting the tech giant to report a third straight quarterly revenue drop and its first drop in annual revenue in 15 years. Source
  • Apple iPhone sales drop for 3rd-straight quarter, but still top expectations

    Economic CBC News
    Apple Inc. will report fourth-quarter and full-year earnings after the close of trading Tuesday, with analysts expecting the tech giant to report a third straight quarterly revenue drop and its first drop in annual revenue in 15 years. Source
  • Trilogy estimates pipeline spill at 250,000 litres of oil and water

    Economic CTV News
    CALGARY - Trilogy Energy Corp. estimates a leak from its pipeline in west-central Alberta released 250,000 litres of oil and water before it was discovered in early October. The company announced the preliminary estimate Tuesday, the same day the Alberta Energy Regulator formally launched an investigation of the spill 16 kilometres northeast of Fox Creek, Alta. Source
  • Caterpillar stung by global economic funk

    Economic CTV News
    PEORIA, Ill. -- Caterpillar's third-quarter profit was essentially cut in half with the global economy stuck in a funk, and the company said that it expects that malaise to extend into next year. The construction and mining equipment maker lowered its outlook for the year and shares of Caterpillar slipped almost 2 per cent in midday trading Tuesday. Source
  • Report: Gunmen still control metals mined for modern gadgets

    Economic CTV News
    SAN FRANCISCO -- Violent gunmen still menace pick-and-shovel miners in eastern Congo, a new report finds, despite years of efforts to loosen their grip by local reformers, Western activists and companies like Apple and Intel that use minerals from the African region in their products. Source
  • Seniors watch twice as much television as young people do, CRTC numbers show

    Economic CBC News
    Canadians are watching less TV and radio but consuming more media than ever before, new numbers from the CRTC show. According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Canadians are listening to an average of 16.2 hours of radio per week, a number which is down almost two per cent from 2014's level. Source
  • Fiat Chrysler boosts earnings forecast on strong North American results

    Economic CBC News
    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on Tuesday increased its 2016 earnings forecast for the second time this year after strong results in North America helped it return to a profit in the third quarter. The company reported an adjusted net profit of 606 million euros, compared with a loss of 387 million euros in the same period last year. Source