On November 12, 2019, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti joined Joseph Mancinelli, International Vice President and Regional Manager for Central and Eastern Canada of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), for the official opening of the new, state-of-the-art LiUNA training centre.
The $19 million training centre is designed by Toronto-based firm BNKC, and is a 48,000 square-foot expansion of an existing facility at on Major Mackenzie new Highway 404, at the centre of LiUNA’s focus on meeting the growing demand for apprenticeship programs, skills training and certification in the region.
Chosen for its convenience for training people from all parts of the GTA, LiUNA members will be provided training in four listed trade programs at the centre: construction craft worker, concrete and cement finisher, precast erector and hazmat worker as well as providing other complimentary skills such as trade show event erector, concrete cutting and coring and demolition worker.
According to Ted Gedney, training director, LiUNA hopes the training centre will double its apprenticeship offerings from 130 apprentices to 250, something that will help meet the growing demands for training and skilled labour. Classrooms will be equipped with open bays with high ceilings so trainees can work at heights. There are also connections for fall protection built right into the roof system and an overhead crane. Most drywall was intentionally left off so the mechanics of the building are on display, giving it an industrial aesthetic.
“Many contractors tell us they are unable to bid on additional work because they do not have the labour capacity to take it on. This new centre gives us the room we need to better serve our members and feed these contractors with the qualified workforce they need,” Gedney told the Toronto Star.
Premier Ford addressed the crowd, saying “It’s very simple economics; start cutting red tape, cut regulations, lower takes for SMEs, and put money back into people’s pocket—they are going to reinvest it in other people, and in new equipment.”
The strong working relationship between the union and the office of the premier was emphasized. “We have gotten along very well with the strong leadership of our premier, and when he worked in city hall, he worked very closely with our unions to ensure members were fully supported and that the legislative work done at city hall would benefit members in his riding,” said Mancinelli.
“One of the reasons we get up in the morning is to fight the fight to get skilled workers into our industry, make sure apprentices are well-trained and safe and productive on our job sites, and fulfilling the need of our contractors,” continued Mancinelli.
“I commend the work they do in directing us in the right direction—both management and union trustees who play significant role in leading us and bringing us new skilled workers into the industry.”
With the amount of infrastructure that is going to be built within the next few years, Ontario is going to be inundated with the demand for skilled workers. LiUNA hopes the new training centre will reach a lot of young people who are looking for a stable and rewarding career path.
“I know a lot of lawyers in this province that don’t make as much money as our members and that is a message we need to get out there,” said Mancinelli. “This training centre will do a great job of getting that message out to the students, parents, politicians, and the general public. That’s why a training centre like this is so important. Not only for the future of our organization, but for the future of the construction industry in Ontario.”