Jobs provided for Yukon workers on major energy efficiency retrofit

Carpenters Union - ScaffoldingAs submitted to local media on Friday, March 18, 2016

As many of you will have noticed, the Government of Yukon’s main administration building on Second Avenue in Whitehorse is looking more like something out of a sci-fi movie these days than the home of offices and Yukon’s Legislative Assembly.

The building has been environmentally-contained (shrink-wrapped) to facilitate a major retrofit, which includes insulation and vapour barrier upgrades, as well as window and door replacements. These improvements will increase the building’s energy efficiency, while reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the expected annual energy savings from these upgrades is $250,000.

Hidden beneath the shrink wrap is an enormous system of scaffolding, which has proven to be the most productive, efficient and safest way to work from heights. Scaffolding is not only replacing aerial man-lifts on job sites, it is also the fastest-growing unionized trade in the construction industry.

While Ketza Construction is the general contractor on this job, the sub-contractor for scaffolding is Industrial Scaffold Services, based in Nanaimo, British Columbia, which now has a crew working on this job that is made up entirely of Yukoners.

At the start of the project, two of Industrial Scaffold’s British Columbia workers were sent to begin the scaffold build with a crew of Yukoners. With the required training and work hours under their belts, we now have an all-Yukon crew. The key journeyperson on the job, who had been working on massive jobs in the Lower Mainland, is back home here in Whitehorse running this build.

Some of these tradespeople learned their trade in Alberta or British Columbia through trades centres established by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, while others are just starting out. Thanks to the combined efforts of Industrial Scaffold Services, the Yukon Carpenters Union Local 2499, and in some cases the Canada-Yukon Job Grant (administered by the Department of Education), practical on-the-job training and in-class training is available in Yukon and is putting Yukoners to work.

A journeyperson certificate in scaffolding requires a four-year apprenticeship, including three periods of three weeks of technical and written training, as well as 1300 hours of on-the-job work for each level, or 5200 hours total.

Tuition for union members is paid by the union. This is made possible thanks to an education fund agreed upon by the union and unionized employers. This pooled fund creates education and training opportunities for all union members. If additional help is needed for specific courses or programming, the union has in the past made good use of the Canada-Yukon Job Grant.

For Industrial Scaffold Services, local hire is a no-brainer. Their project manager has stressed the importance of working with locals and ensuring those workers have training opportunities available to them. The company is impressed with Yukoners’ skills, work ethic and willingness to learn.

Both Ketza Construction and another sub-contractor, Energy North Construction, are Yukon businesses. This project is a great example of local and non-local contractors working together to provide jobs for Yukoners.

Darrell Pasloski
Government of Yukon

Jeff Sloychuk
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 2499