FTI Director of Training Speaks to Jon McComb on CKNW

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On Thursday April 18th. Director of Training, Paddy Byrne, had an opportunity to sit down with CKNW’s Jon McComb and discuss his perspective on the future of the trades. It was all part of a series that CKNW has been running with regard to “The Future of Work”. The interview is about 10 minutes in length an covers a wide array of topics on everything from the changing faces of construction workers, with more women, aboriginal people and new immigrants to Canada entering the trades, to the advent of robotic technology.

We hope you will enjoy what turned out to be a fairly interesting interview by clicking on the attached link below.

FTI Apprentice Shows Initiative

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I often post stories and pictures about our apprentices here at the Finishing Trades institute of BC, extolling the good work they do as they learn a trade. However, I was particularly struck by the initiative shown recently by one of our painting apprentices and DC 38 member, Steve McBride.

Steve, having seen the work performed by our apprentices from all four of the crafts we teach here, had an idea about taking the of skills his fellow apprentices, combined with the tools, materials and instruction supplied by the FTI, and turning all of that toward a project with a higher purpose. Steve thought why not take some of the structures that our apprentices construct and turn them into portable, temporary housing units for the homeless.

This is not as far fetched an idea as you might think. There was a story a couple of years ago where individuals in the state of Oregon had come up with a similar idea building small structures which had proved effective in providing shelter to homeless people in that community. When you take a look at the picture at the top of this story you can see that with a little imagination and some additional work and design change, our mock-ups do look like small homes.

Steve thought, wouldn’t it make sense to build these projects with a positive purpose in mind rather than building practice projects that would eventually be sent out to be recycled or worse, scrapped. Rather than keep this idea to himself, Steve decided to share those thoughts in an email he sent to the Premier of the province of British Columbia. To Steve’s surprise not only did he receive a response from the Premier’s office but from several high ranking bureaucrats including the Executive Director of Governance, Engagement and Corporate Services Branch of the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.

Where Steve’s idea will go has yet to be seen but you have to admire his initiative and his obvious love and respect for the work all of us do here at the FTI of BC.

There is one little caveat I must add to this story however. While we appreciate Steve’s enthusiasm and initiative, we really would appreciate it if our students would share those thoughts with us prior to contacting persons in government or other outside agencies. Steve has a great idea but we’d like the chance to discuss the cost and time commitments involved in a special project or idea such as this. That way we at least we will know how to respond.

Keep up the the good work Steve and please………. keep us in the loop.

DC 38, FTI of BC and the Building Trades Lobby the Provincial Government for Changes

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At the recently concluded BC Building Trades Conference held in Victoria, representatives of District Council 38 and the Finishing Trades Institute of BC had the opportunity to speak with the three main Provincial parties about changes needed in the BC construction industry. The four main topics of discussion revolved around, Community Benefit Agreements, changes to the Labour Code and Employment Standards, Apprenticeship Training and Compulsory Trades and finally, the Underground Economy.

BC Building Trades Unions support Community Benefit Agreements (CBA’s) on several fronts. First of all, they ensure a fair bidding process where contractors, both union and non-union, have an equal ability to bid on publicly funded projects, knowing in advance what the bidding conditions are. CBA’s also have quotas for apprentices set at 25%, as well as provisions for women and First Nations people to participate on these projects, ensuring that a made in BC workforce is given first crack at these jobs.

Building Trades Unions are also looking for changes to the Labour Code recognizing construction as a unique industry requiring language that specifically addresses those differences. Every other province in Canada has special construction industry language in their code, so why not BC? There is also a major issue with funding for the Labour Relations Board (LRB) as well as the Employment Standards Branch (ESB). In 2004 the LRB had their budget slashed by the provincial Liberal government by 46%, affecting staffing levels, thus allowing unfair labour practices by employers to grow exponentially. The LRB and the ESB received 0% in funding increases over the term of the Liberals time in office, allowing workers to be exploited by unscrupulous employers.

We also spoke to the MLA’s about reintroduction of Compulsory Certification of construction trades. BC is the only province in Canada without such a requirement. Many people in this province are unaware that when Gordon Campbell and the Liberals eliminated Compulsory Certification, as a favour to some of their main financial contributors, they eliminated any form of consumer protection with regard to who is qualified to call themselves a tradesperson. Would you trust a doctor who didn’t attend university or a lawyer without a law degree? Anyone in this province with a pick up truck and a tool belt can call themselves a tradesperson in any trade they wish. Why would anyone attend trade school for four years when there is no longer the need? It all boils down to consumer protection and without Compulsory Certification, consumers have little to no recourse with shoddy and in some cases dangerous workmanship.

Finally, we spoke to the politicians about the need to address the underground or “Cash” economy in the construction industry. As taxpayers, we should all be outraged by the fact that millions upon millions of dollars in taxes, EI and CPP contributions, WorkSafe BC premiums and wages go unreported in the construction industry, while the rest of us pay our fair share of taxes. Thanks again to Gordon Campbell and the Liberals bowing to the wishes of their “Big Money Contributors”, a highly efficient team of investigators, charged with uncovering these violations, was disbanded allowing a free-for-all for cheating contractors. We’re not talking about the friend who paints your kitchen or patches a hole in your drywall. We’re speaking about major residential and commercial projects where the entire job was being constructed with cash payments “under the table”, in many cases to illegal immigrants.

Each one of the issues we have identified above have a profound effect on our economy, our members, our contractors our District Council and to our training facility. When we get opportunities such as these to speak with politicians of every political stripe we will always strive to educate those in power to look for better ways to address our collective concerns as well as the interests of all British Columbians.


Aboriginal Women in Trades at the FTI of BC

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The Squamish Nation Trades Training Centre, in partnership with The Finishing Trades Institute of BC, recently completed a two week introduction to construction program at our facility. Normally this would be just another story on trades training however, this program had a bit of a different twist. This class was made up entirely of First Nations women who had all expressed an interest in trying their hand at the construction trades. According to our Instructors, these were some of the most enthusiastic hands they had ever had the pleasure to teach.

The women were part of a cohort of individuals who had enrolled in a program that would allow them to try a trade for a week at a time at various union training facilities around the Lower Mainland. Two of these weeks were spent at the FTI, where they were exposed to the Wall & Ceiling trades of Drywall Finishing and Wall & Ceiling Installation as well as the Glazing trade. All three of our Instructors involved in the program remarked on the positive attitudes and willingness to work as a team displayed by the entire group.

Although one week may seem like a short amount of time to gain an appreciation for a particular trade, our Instructors managed to come up with some dynamic projects that grabbed the attention of these students while giving them a basic understanding of the craft.

We are hoping that this will be the first of many such programs we run in concert with the Squamish Nation Trades Training Centre and are hopeful that some of the women in this class choose one of our Finishing Trades as a possible career.

We’d like to extend our thanks to Peter Baker and his staff from the Squamish Nation Trades Training Centre, for allowing our facility to participate in this ground breaking project.


FTI Industrial Painting Students Benefit from Generous Support from Sherwin Williams

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In our final painting class of 2018, our new industrial facility and equipment was put to good use by several of our students who were preparing to write their  final exams in preparation for their ascension to Red Seal journey person status . Early in 2018 we were granted final approval by the City of Surrey to operate our facility at full capacity and since that time, we have taken every opportunity to run as many apprenticeship training courses, journey person upgrading sessions and certification programs  as possible.

However, one item that is often overlooked is the cost of the specialized coatings involved in running these programs. We have literally saved thousands of dollars this year, thanks to the generous support of our paint sponsor, Sherwin Williams. Because of the foresight of this company and their management group, we were able to reinvest those savings into additional equipment and other disposables allowing us to expose a greater number of individuals to a rewarding career in the painting industry.

We would like to take this opportunity to gratefully acknowledge Sherwin Williams and to thank them for their generous support with regard to all of the painting programs we operate at our facility. Their investment in our students allows us to create a pathway toward developing many rewarding careers as we train tomorrows workforce today.


The Apprenticeship Incentive Grant for Women is now launched

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Government of Canada launches new Apprenticeship Incentive Grant for Women to help them get certified in Red Seal trades

News release

December 11, 2018 | Gatineau, Quebec | Employment and Social Development Canada

Canada’s prosperity depends on Canadians having the skills, training and experience they need to get good quality jobs and succeed in a changing economy. To help meet the increasing need for more workers in the trades, the Government of Canada is taking a leadership role by introducing new initiatives to encourage women to enter and succeed in Red Seal trades where they are under-represented.

Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, announced that the Apprenticeship Incentive Grant for Women is now available to eligible apprentices

The new Apprenticeship Incentive Grant for Women provides $3,000 per year or level, up to a maximum amount of $6,000, to registered apprentices who have successfully completed their first or second year/level of an apprenticeship program in eligible Red Seal trades. This, in combination with the existing Apprenticeship Completion Grant valued at $2,000, could result in combined grant support of up to $8,000 over the course of their training. Women apprentices who progress in their training on or after April 1, 2018, may be eligible for the new grant.

Applications are available online by visiting Canada.ca/apprenticeship-grants or call toll-free 1-866-742-3644 (TTY: 1-866-909-9757) to request an application form.

The new Apprenticeship Incentive Grant for Women supports gender equality and better economic outcomes for women by giving them more opportunities to access typically higher-paying Red Seal trades where they are under-represented.


“When people are given opportunities to succeed and reach their full potential, we all benefit. The new Apprenticeship Incentive Grant for Women is one way our government is including under-represented groups to help fill the high demand for workers in the Red Seal trades. When people start their Red Seal training, they are not only starting down a well-paying, fulfilling career path, they are driving our country forward.”
– The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

Quick facts

  • Approximately one in five employed Canadians are represented in the skilled trades professions. At the end of 2017, there were 309,441 registered apprentices across Canada (2017 Registered Apprenticeship Information System).
  • Women account for nine percent of apprentices in Red Seal trades, and only five percent when “traditional” trades (hairstylist, cook and baker) are removed (2017 Registered Apprenticeship Information System).
  • The Government of Canada is investing almost $20 million over five years to pilot the Apprenticeship Incentive Grant for Women.
  • The AIG-W is one of several Government of Canada initiatives to support women and other groups who face barriers to entering and succeeding in the skilled trades, including the Women in Construction Fund and the pre-apprenticeship program.

Link to the news release:  Government of Canada launches new Apprenticeship Incentive Grant for Women to help them get certified in Red Seal trades

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Are you an apprentice or a tradesperson? If so, find out how financial incentives could help you.

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If you need more information pertaining to the Red Seal Program, please visit the Red Seal website, call 1-877-599-6933 or email us.

IFTI Partners with MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach

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Do you have troubles reading? You are not alone. Millions of people also struggle mostly because their brains need to be taught differently.

The iFTI have partnered with MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach® (MVRC) to assist you in overcoming reading struggles in the privacy of your own home. MindPlay is a web-based reading program using artificial intelligence to deliver one-to-one, personalized, systematic, reading instruction. MindPlay features virtual reading teachers who will help you or your child fill in the skill gaps that prevent from reading accurately and fluently. The adaptive program modifies instruction to suit the needs of each user.

The iFTI has purchased a limit number of licenses available at no cost for the District Councils. It’s offered to IUPAT members and family members. If you want to register or enroll a family member, have your DOT send the following information to FTIInternational@iupat.org:


Full Name –

Member ID –

Email –


For family members, add the following information

Relationship to member –

Grade Level –


Reminder: Only request for users who will complete this course as there are limited licenses. First come, first served.

If you already have your login details, go to the LMS homepage and find the MindPlay link.


Thank you!

LNG Canada Likes What They See at the FTI of BC

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On Thursday November 22  Steve Corban and Ron Harry of LNG Canada took some time to check out the FTI of BC and the apprenticeship programs we deliver here.

By now, just about everyone has heard about the $40 billion dollar natural gas plant that LNG Canada is developing in Northern BC. This will be the single largest construction project ever undertaken in the history of the province. As part of their due diligence, LNG Canada has begun touring many of the BC Building Trades Union’s training facilities in order to gauge their readiness to help develop the necessary number of qualified tradespeople that will be required for a project of such a massive scope. Based on the feedback we received from both Corban and Harry, they have every confidence that we have what it takes to deliver the goods.

The two LNG Canada representatives took the time to tour through the entire FTI training facility and see the four apprenticeship programs we deliver here however, their main focus was on the brand new state-of-the-art Industrial Painting building and the highly specialized equipment it contains. Part time Industrial Instructor and full time DC 38 Painting Representative, Justin Chapman, accompanied the pair through the Industrial Painting section of the tour and was able to answer some of the more technical inquiries our guests had. At the end of the tour Corban remarked that we should all be very proud of our facility and the great work we do here.

It’s always gratifying touring individuals through our facility when it’s their first time. They really don’t know what to expect when they enter but by the end of the tour everyone expresses their appreciation for what we do and the quality of our facility and the enthusiasm of our instructors.

We say bring on LNG because we are ready!


Open Door Group WITT Program Discovers the FTI

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On Monday of this week we welcomed Kyle Kozak, the Carpentry Program Manager for The Open Door Group, and a group of bright young women who are looking for a career in the construction trades, to the FTI of BC. These women are all part of a cohort of individuals who are undergoing a ten week “Women In The Trades” introductory program, specifically geared towards introducing women to the construction trades.

Director of Training for the FTI, Paddy Byrne, had been in discussions with Kozak since early summer with regard to looking at opportunities for his WITT group to explore what was involved in an apprenticeship through the four finishing trades programs we instruct at our facility. Based on the feedback we received from the group, a career in the finishing trades was a very attractive option. Given the fact that DC 38 contractors are going through a period of high employment and everyone of them is looking for the right individual to hire, the timing couldn’t have been better for the Open Door Group and the WITT program participants to come through our doors.

After the visit, some of the women who expressed an interest in our programs asked Kozak to follow up with us and see who they would need to contact to start a career in the finishing trades. We have now provided everyone who was on the tour with the contact information of all of our business representatives for each of the specific trades. We look forward to some of the women in the WITT program launching a career with one of our contractors.

With only a small percentage of women choosing to work in the construction trades, the FTI of BC is looking to do our part in showing more women the rewards that come with working in construction, and in particular, the finishing trades.


Community Benefits Agreements Help Apprentices

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Goretti Guibault and Brian Cochrane: Community Benefits Agreements needed to fix 16 years of mishandling apprenticeships and training


Goretti Guibault & Brian Cochrane

Updated: August 11, 2018

Much has been written recently about whether British Columbia’s new Community Benefits Agreements process for major public construction projects are a good thing.

But what hasn’t been much discussed is why. Community Benefits Agreements are needed. It’s pretty simple: Because apprenticeship training was mishandled for 16 years in B.C. and the number of skilled workers being trained dramatically deteriorated.

The facts prove it.

Statistics Canada found that in 2016 B.C. had 4,500 fewer new apprentices signed up than in 2013, despite huge demand in the booming construction industry.

And total registrants in B.C. apprenticeships dropped from 4,110 between 2005 to 2009 to just 2,778 from 2009 to 2014.

Red Seal trades certifications — the highest standard recognized across Canada since 1952 — dropped in B.C. from 84 per cent between 2001 to 2004 to just 65 per cent between 2011 to 2014.

This when employers were desperately searching for skilled trades workers, even resorting to hiring temporary foreign workers and causing a national controversy as they displaced Canadians.

What happened? In 2002, the then-new B.C. Liberal government literally blew up the province’s apprenticeship program at the request of some short-sighted construction employers, who thought they could save money by cutting training.

The changes were radical:

Hours of required on-the-job training were dramatically cut and professional titles downgraded. A carpenter who needed 6,450 hours over four years could be replaced by a “residential framing technician” doing just 500 hours on the job in one year.

B.C. eliminated 11 compulsory-designated trades, including electricians, plumbers, sheet metal workers and steamfitters/pipefitters —becoming the only province with none.

The number of Provincial Apprenticeship Branch staff was initially slashed from about 120 to just 12.

The province created 28 new apprenticeship programs in 2005 but then eliminated 11 of them by 2013, creating more confusion in the trades.

Labour and education representatives who had always been a key part of apprenticeship governance were removed, taking away experienced, knowledgeable people from the program.

These and other changes created chaos in the apprenticeship system.

As bad as things were generally, they were much worse for women, Indigenous workers, people with disabilities and others hoping to enter the skilled trades to get a better job and life.

Only 13 per cent of apprentices in 2016 were women, despite provincial government claims it was promoting the trades to underrepresented groups.

And one of the new apprenticeships created in 2005 was “Native residential construction worker,” which encouraged 1,005 registrations. But it was one of the programs eliminated and by 2014 there was no one left registered.

The plain facts are that the B.C. Liberal government — strongly backed by non-union contractors and unions not recognized as legitimate by Canada’s labour movement — simply screwed up our apprenticeship program.

Now that regrettable situation has to be fixed — and fast — as B.C. has fallen dramatically behind in producing apprentices with the skills needed to build our province.

Community Benefits Agreements won’t solve all the problems 16 years of incompetence created, but they are a very good start.

It only makes sense that government partner with those labour organizations that have led skills training initiatives and invest millions of dollars annually in partnership with construction contractors to ensure B.C. has the skilled workforce ready to meet pending demand.

It’s time to get back to work on apprenticeships so we can build B.C. properly and train the next generation of workers we urgently need. Community Benefits Agreements will help get the job done right.

Goretti Guibault is a heavy equipment operator who mentors other women entering trades and is on the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 115 executive board. Brian Cochrane is business manager, IUOE Local 115.


Brian Cochrane