UA Canada

Professional, productive and safe

The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada (UA or United Association) is a well-known, highly-respected North American labour union representing 335,000 workers from 300 Locals in the plumbing and pipefitting industries throughout the United States and Canada.  Founded in the United States in 1889, the United Association is one of the most influential building trades unions anywhere in the world, with members who are engaged in the fabrication, installation and servicing of piping systems.

UA Canada came into existence 125 years ago with the formation of Local 46 in Toronto.  As of 2015 there are 30 Local unions with 55,000 members and 10,000 apprentices covering every province and territory in the country. With 10 Locals, Ontario leads in overall membership but the largest individual Local is in Edmonton – Local 488, with about 11,000 members.

UA serves as a collective voice for workers throughout the negotiation and collective bargaining process with employer contractor groups, such as the Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada and the Provincial Mechanical Contractor Associations. The UA is also a key member of the Building and Construction Trades Department, the AFL-CIO, and the Canadian Federation of Labour.

John Telford, Director of Canadian Affairs & International Vice President – District 6, has been at the helm of UA Canada for the past nine years. A life-long resident of Kingston, Ontario, his office is at UA Canada’s headquarters in Ottawa but as one would expect, much of his time is spent travelling. The union has been a major part of the Telford family for three generations.

“My dad worked in the shipyards in Belfast, Northern Ireland and he immigrated to Canada in 1955,” he recalls during our discussion. “He brought my mom and my sister and I about two years later. He settled in Kingston, Ontario where he worked at Kingston Locomotive and the Shipyards. When that collapsed he took his welding and fitting skills and joined the UA in Kingston Local 221.”

Following in his father’s footsteps, Telford joined UA Local 221 in 1972 right out of high school. Now his sons Brad and Cody are proud UA members. Telford spent most of his initial training on small institutional and commercial work serving as a plumber’s apprentice, conducting plumbing work and low-pressure heating in schools, hospitals and in prisons. After five years he became a journeyman and then followed that up serving as a foreman on a number of projects. In 1988 he became the Business Manager of Local 221.

The success of UA Canada can be attributed to a strong complementary leadership team that works alongside Telford.  Amongst that inner group of executives are a number of people who are integral to spearheading initiatives within the union. Rob Kinsey is responsible for western Canada and the north; Budrow Tozer heads up GPC-NMA – all the heavy industrial maintenance shutdown work; James MacDonald takes care of eastern Canada; Steve Morrison is in charge of the Ontario region, Ron Maisonneuve handles Quebec; Tony Finelli leads HVACR / Service Canada and organizing; Larry Slaney is the expert on training initiatives and Larry Cann serves as the Administrative Assistant to the General President.

Today the UA is led by General President William P. Hite who works out of the union’s headquarters in Annapolis, Maryland. Previously he served as Assistant General President from 2001-2004. He has been with the UA for 48 years and has four generations of family who’ve served as members. In his position, Hite is responsible for supervising the day-to-day affairs of the United Association and for decisions concerning internal union governance, as well as rendering decisions and adjusting disputes and other matters affecting the organization.

“We speak on a regular basis and get together in person at least five or six times a year,” Telford confirms. “We see each other at conferences and have spoken together at some events.  A lot of ideas he’s incorporated down there we’ve picked up on, and conversely some initiatives we began he has picked up on for the workers in the U.S. Billy is very supportive of the initiatives we put together here and he’s a great ambassador for the UA. He’s the one who fostered the affiliations with the unions in Australia and Ireland.”

Training

The United Association has been training qualified pipe tradesmen longer than any other union in the industry and is widely regarded as being the best at it. The UA boasts a high-quality training regimen that is second to none, including labour-intensive five-year apprenticeship programs, extensive journeyman training and continuously updated organized instructor training and certification programs.

“The UA spends $250 million dollars of members’ money on training every year,” Telford reveals. “We’re the largest private-sector training provider in North America. It’s what sets us apart from a non-union – the training that we put on for our members. I feel the training we put into our apprentices is paramount. We estimate the cost is somewhere between $60,000 and $70,000 per apprentice that we spend on their training.  They pay for it in an hourly check-off. An apprentice in most Locals pays about 50 cents an hour towards the training fund.”

As an industry trendsetter, the UA had the first nationally registered Joint Apprenticeship program dating back to the 1930s.  It’s operated in both in the U.S. and here in Canada. Every Local union has a joint apprenticeship training committee comprised of contractors and union members.

The Canadian training fund is supported by every member in the country at .05cents per hour with the proceeds going towards new Local facilities for equipment such as welding machines. As Telford points out, the money is mostly for equipment purchases as opposed to instructor wages. The UA contributes a tremendous amount of money to every local union that applies for it in order to upgrade their training centre facilities. There are nine centres that have been recognized by the universities and colleges in Canada.

An integral part of training comes from The National Association of Union Schools and Colleges (NAUSC), which is incorporated as a national not for profit corporation and includes three regional associations in the Western, Central, and Eastern areas of Canada. NAUSC defines a truly national organization that represents more than 55,000 members and at this time 30 local union training schools and colleges across the country.

The UA Instructor Online Resources are provided to enable UA local union HVACR Service, Plumbing, Pipefitting, and Sprinkler Fitting Training Coordinators and Instructors the ability to share quality standardized instructional resources. These resources are only available to local union Training Coordinators and Instructors. The UA demands its apprentices have a Grade 12 education, including maths and sciences, which are necessary in order to pass trades school and the Certificate of Qualification exams towards becoming a tradesman.

The UA believes that the youth of today are the future and as such is a major supporter of Skills Canada, with this year’s three-day event taking place in Saskatoon beginning on May 27.

“We got into Skills Canada about three or four years ago and this year we’re running our steamfitter test program,” Telford states. “We have to run a pilot program one year and then next year steamfitters will be part of the Skills Canada competition.”

UA Canada holds its own competition every year as well, with the end result being a top apprentice being recognized for each skilled trade. Those winners then go on to the International Competition in Ann Arbor, Michigan each year where the top apprentices in all disciplines are crowned as UA champions.

As further evidence that UA Canada goes the extra mile to help those interested in the trades is the J. Russell St. Eloi UA Scholarship Fund Society, which offers scholarships to people who want to serve a piping apprenticeship or enter the piping trades and are facing some financial hardship.

There is a $1,000 scholarship and six $1,000 bursaries given to successful applicants every year in four categories: academic achievement, financial difficulty, minority in the trades, and unexpected job loss.

Methodologies

The methodologies and philosophies of UA Canada in many ways mirror that of the UA in the United States wherever and whenever possible, but there are circumstances when differences are quite evident.

“Our labour laws are very different than they are in the United States,” Telford notes. “We operate differently but it’s all under the same constitution. We have guidelines that we have to operate under, but our dynamics are much, much different than the United States, two countries, one union.”

There has been a conscious effort by the executive team in Canada to consolidate operations over the past decade, which has meant amalgamating about 13 former Locals with others.

“We really feel that a Local should have at least 1,000 members whenever possible in order to be financially stable enough to run a top-end operation,” Telford declares.

Surpassing Expectations

Many of UA Canada’s Local unions have not only met but surpassed expectations in the projects they have been a part of, and it’s one of the reasons why Telford believes they keep getting more work; more market share because they’ve earned people’s respect and trust. Dedication and commitment to the job is always evident, with a prime example coming last year, when the skilled tradesmen of UA Local 179 in Saskatchewan completed five million man-hours for all the pipe trades combined – resulting in the second highest number of man-hours worked in Canada by a single local.

The Heating and Ventilating air conditioning and Service Sector is an area the UA is most proud of with over 5000 members nationally being led by straight line Local 516 in British Columbia and Local 787 in Ontario.  These two Locals are leading the UA along with other HVAC combination Locals in the Service Industry; a very unique piece of business for the UA and growing.

The Fire Protection Industry employs about 5000 UA members across Canada with the largest Local being the straight line Sprinkler Local 853 in Ontario with over 3000 members.  The Sprinkler Industry has by far the largest market share with some areas enjoying as much as 90% Market share.  Sprinklers don’t save buildings they save lives, says Telford.

Moving Forward is a campaign started nine years ago and based on working with UA clients, owners, and contractors to ensure the union is continually providing the most skilled and professional workforce to complete their projects.  The primary objective is aimed at bringing about a cultural shift – with an emphasis on professionalism and quality throughout the pipe trades. It involves everyone from the union executive and managers to those on the shop floor; from the most seasoned professional to the apprentice just starting out in a career in the industry.

“The UA has created the “Standard for Excellence” as the basis for Moving Forward, and will work with our representatives and membership to ensure that this standard is adopted and implemented by our local unions across Canada,” says Telford.

The result has been tremendous progress in accomplishing a needed cultural shift according to Telford, through initiatives such as a detailed survey of our members on the state of the union, new websites promoting transparency and information, and business and leadership training programs.

“We were heading in the wrong direction,” Telford candidly admits. “We were still a confrontational union. We were being run by about 5% of our members – the dissidents – and it had to come to an end.”

In response, Telford and other key executives at UA communicated with all UA Canada members, talking to them in person from coast to coast, informing the rank and file about the need to evolve in order to remain relevant and succeed in the piping industry.

“We started to challenge the people who were causing us problems. We did expel a certain number of members and managed to turn our union around,” Telford proclaims. “Our clients know that if there is a problem on the job site, we will react and correct it.”

Leaders at the UA also did a lot to help people, some who had serious drug or alcohol afflictions. Not only did UA seek out counselling for those in need, but they also paid for the treatments.

“Those members came back as better workers and better family men,” Telford proudly says. “We don’t want to kick people out; they are skilled.  But if they are doing drugs or anything illegal we can’t keep them on the jobsite.” The bottom line is a professional, productive safe workforce and Telford emphatically states his union if far better today than it was 10 years ago.

Affiliations

UA Canada has a number of important affiliations including the Canadian Labour Congress and the Canadian Building Trades, the latter of which has become a major driving force for the union.

“The Canadian Building Trades is the 15 building trades unions and is headed up by Robert Blakely. We use this group for political influence,” Telford states. “They are in Ottawa and act as the umbrella group to negotiate large project labour agreements in different provinces.”

Examples of success point to Newfoundland where UA negotiated two large offshore drilling rigs and project labour agreements that are 100% union. Another victory was at the Vale Inco nickel smelter at Long Harbour.

UA Canada deals with countless organizations and affiliations on a daily basis, but some of the more prominent ones include: the Mechanical Contractors Association (Ontario and Canada); Industrial Contractors Association of Canada; Canadian Pipe Fabricators Association; Ontario Pipe Trades and New Brunswick Pipe Trades. UA Canada also has an affiliation with a group out of Alberta called ACTIMS that was put together by the four major oil producers to coordinate their shutdowns and outages.

“Typically in Alberta there is an outage in the spring and another in the fall where we need large numbers of manpower.  This spring season we’ll be looking to put 5,000 UA men and women up into northern Alberta on shutdowns at Suncor, Syncrude, Esso and Total,” Telford says.

UA will draw workers from as far as the east coast and sometimes will recruit members from the U.S. for exceptionally large jobs. Telford and his executive team would love to see a higher volume of work in the eastern region so that members living in that part of Canada would have employment closer to home.

“I’m tired of my New Brunswick members having to travel so far to make a living,” he laments.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) a political lobbying group is working with the UA Canada as a proponent of safe pipeline development.  Telford says the UA has really increased coordination and cooperation with TransCanada Pipelines in the last two years. Both have been jointly promoting the Energy East pipeline that would take oil from Alberta to St. John, New Brunswick.

UA Canada is also looking to refurbish 10 nuclear power plants in Ontario over the next 18 years – four reactors at the Darlington site and six at the Bruce Power site.  The UA recently concluded in-depth negotiations that took about 18 months to finish. Such a long-term deal provides Ontario Hydro and Bruce Power with the leverage and stability they need when seeking out investors. Being able to tout labour peace for 18 years is a monumental advantage.

“We negotiated that agreement and many other building trades were upset about it but now we have 11 out of 15 who’ve signed on,” Telford reveals.

UA membership is very mobile with an ability to muster up 4,000 to 5,000 people in a matter of weeks if there is a major job that requires immediate action. Companies have come to rely on UA’s ability to quickly supply them with well-trained, skilled people.

Another core advantage is the diversity of the UA membership.  For example, it would not be a stretch in the same year for a UA member to work on a commercial site – maybe a strip mall – and then, after being laid off, to be heading off to the Bruce nuclear power plant and finally finishing up the year on a shutdown in Alberta.

“The reason that we’re No.1 in the piping industry is first and foremost our membership,” Telford immediately replies. “It’s not unusual for our workers to have five T4 slips in a calendar year and it’s not because they can’t hold a job, it’s because we move around a lot following work oppurtunities.”

“What makes the UA different in the piping industry is our welders. We have, without a doubt, the best welders in North America,” he continues. “We have the best pipeline welders and alloy chrome welders. On a job like Energy East any welder on that site will have each and every weld x-ray inspected. If he has two repairs, he’ll be laid off. That’s the type of scrutiny these people are under.”

Pipelines

UA Canada just recently entered into an agreement with TransCanada for the Energy East pipeline project. The proposed 4,600km oil pipeline, of which 3,000km already exists, would transport oil from Alberta to refineries and port terminals in Quebec and New Brunswick. As of now, the project is still waiting for the green light, but the signs are positive that it will be approved.  The existing pipeline runs from Alberta to Cornwall, Ontario.  It’s now a matter of finishing up the last section and then converting from a gas line to oil. Only small pockets of discontent seem to be in Northern Ontario and Quebec but Telford is convinced that meaningful dialogue can solve those concerns.

The Energy East pipeline has 70 pumping stations valued at $50 million each and are spaced approximately 100km apart. Small communities in northern Ontario would benefit from having construction jobs there for all of one summer, which in turn would create business for local hotels, motels, restaurants, gas stations and retail outlets. Once completed each pumping station would require at least two people for maintenance throughout the day and night; Jobs for remote communities.

Additional benefits of having the pipeline built from Hardisty to St. John would see Suncor developing a large expansion at its Montreal refinery. Ultramar in Quebec City has suggested it too would be in for a similar expansion if the company is able to secure a constant supply of Albertan oil and it’s the same for Irving Oil in the east.

“We’ve got 175 UA brothers working on Maintenance at Irving Oil every day of the week,” Telford says. “They could have a large expansion ready to roll, with a guaranteed oil supply and favourable pricing.”

“TransCanada has guaranteed this will be the safest pipeline in the world,” Telford adds. “We won’t see that pipeline until at least 2019 – that’s what they’re telling us now.”

Nonetheless, Telford remains 100% optimistic that both the Energy East pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline will both eventually come to fruition, despite the latter being locked in political gamesmanship south of the border.

“I think they’ll both go,” he confidently responds. “I don’t know if Mr. Obama is going to permit (Keystone). If the Republicans win the next election I think it will be on their agenda.”

Only 375 kilometres of pipeline in Canada still to be put in for the Keystone XL pipeline.

“We would have to take the pipeline from Hardisty down to the American border. One of my contractors has that work to do. In the U.S. the job has been awarded to a UA contractor as well.” Keystone is needed to move oil to allow for future oil sand expansions.

Telford says the working relationship between UA Canada and TransCanada Pipelines is strong and continues to evolve. He credits the large energy resources company with being extremely generous and helpful.

“TransCanada has donated about 27 lengths of 42-inch pipe to each of our welding training centres where we’ll be working on that line if and when it goes. That was a major contribution. Those lengths of pipe are worth upwards of $40,000 a piece.”

Health & Safety

An aspect of the job that Telford is extremely proud to say has improved immensely over the years concerns health and safety.

“Fifteen years ago we were arguing with our guys to wear safety glasses. Today you won’t see a first-year apprentice who’ll leave the lunch room without safety glasses on,” he says. “I’ve been dealing with TransCanada pipeline almost two years on Energy East. Ten years ago if I’d been dealing with a client on a major project like that – a $15 billion project – the first thing we’d have been talking about was costs; overtime, camp conditions and travel. In two years I’ve talked to TransCanada about one thing and one thing only – safety, safety and safety.”

It is crucially important for both UA Canada and TransCanada that safety be of paramount concern, from building the project, safety for the environment, and safety for the next 60 years for the men and women who would be operating the pipeline, such as those people in the pumping stations and the tank terminals. Whether it’s a pipeline or construction of a new hospital, safety takes precedence and the UA has many programs in place to ensure all workers are up to speed on knowledge in that regard. Consistently excellent safety records and efficient productivity are what companies expect when dealing with tradespeople.

Plumbing, steamfitting and welding accounts for the majority of the jobs at UA, although the other trades are significant in size themselves.  Many plumbers also have steamfitter tickets, which gives them a great deal of resiliency and provides many more opportunities for jobs.

There is also what’s known as the Quality Control Council, of which there are about 1,800 people across the country.  When a pipeline is assembled, each and every weld needs to be inspected and x-rayed. They are the qualified workers who go in and carry out those in-depth inspections. They also inspect any large bridges in the country and check the integrity of the bolting and the steel every five years and go on trains to ensure the metals have not been fatigued.  There are about 200 QCC at Pearson Airport examining the structural integrity of the airplanes.

Workplace Enhancements

Overall, the trades industry has changed – for the better. One of the most noticeable advancements is how work camps have evolved over the past five to six years making the lifestyle for employees much nicer.  Not that long ago there were communal showers and double bunking. Today almost any new camp has single rooms with their own bathrooms and showers along with a flat-screen TV and Wi-Fi Internet connection.

“We’ve built those camp standards within our collective bargaining agreements,” Telford says “The client and contractor understands the young man or woman staying there are going to be working for at least 14 straight days. If you want to get anything out of them in the final few days they’d better be somewhat comfortable.”

Ten years ago it was commonplace for someone in construction to be away from home for three to six months at a time in order to make the financial benefits worthwhile.  Now, workers stationed in places like the oil sands (Fort Mac) are flying home to see their families on a much more regular basis.  They live in camp and work 10 to 12 hours per day for about 14 days, and then typically get seven days off. Telford makes a defined point of noting that all UA Canada camps are dry. Drinking and drugs are strictly prohibited.

One aspect that really annoys Telford is the way construction workers continue to be taxed. If, for example, a worker is stationed at a remote location away from home he first needs to spend money on hotels and gasoline for transportation in getting to the job site. Then he has to cover off the expenses of food and lodging. None of those expenditures can be written off on a tax return, even although each is directly correlated to the job.
“Construction workers are denied the tax breaks travelling salesmen, truck drivers, politicians, business people are entitled to have.  I’ve sat in front of I don’t know how many politicians and they all agree it’s wrong, and yet nothing ever changes. I’ve been pursuing this for 15 years but there’s never a Bill written on it. It gets to the point where guys are unwilling to travel because they can’t write off those basic living expenses,” he says.

First Nations & Women

The two areas Telford admits have remained relatively untapped as far as recruiting tradespeople are women and First Nations.

“We have to get the message out to women that they are more than welcome in the trades. The job site has changed.  It’s not like it was 15 years ago.  They’ve done exceptionally well on the welding side and a number of successful female electricians.  We want to improve in getting more women engaged.  The other area we are conscious about doing a better job for is First Nations. We are not going to change our standards to let people in, but the opportunity is there, we want to embrace female and 1st nations.”

The UA pays for a program in Edmonton called Trade Winds whereby the union bring 16 to 20 First Nations applicants into the union hall where they are put on a six to eight-week program to show them a bit about each and every trade. At the end of program, each individual’s strengths will be assessed to where they are best suited to be a crane operator, or a welder as example.

“We attempt to get them out to the unions and we don’t get paid for that,” Telford reveals. “We’ve had classes go through 16 or 18 students and none of them ended up at the UA. I think we have to do a better job of encouraging the First Nations to join the building trades.”

Signature projects

In a union as expansive as UA Canada it is very difficult to pick out several key projects, but a few examples would include the Maple Leaf Foods Project in Hamilton, which was one of the most comprehensive refrigeration projects ever undertaken when it began in 2009. UA members from Locals 787, 67, and 853, along with travelers from locals across Canada, performed outstandingly on the project according to Robert Kaminski, Director of Engineering for Maple Leaf Foods. The Red Hill Business Park is the largest and most technologically advanced plant of its kind in Canada—and perhaps in the world, and then there was the Milton co-gen project, which was the biggest in Ontario at 880 Mega Watts.

More recently UA has been given widespread recognition for work on the offshore drilling rigs that they’re building in Newfoundland. UA is in the process of building a third drilling rig now with a fourth one likely to follow within the next two years.

UA Canada was also integral in the construction of virtually all the major hospitals built in Toronto over the past 30 years including Princess Margaret. UA workers have built every hydro station in Ontario as well as Darlington and the Bruce nuclear plant. They are all 100% union built. UA also does the vast majority of the auto industry builds as well. Irving Oil is the largest oil refinery in Canada and one of the largest in North America – and it too was built by skilled UA personnel.

“Irving Oil supplies three quarters of the gas used on the eastern seaboard of the U.S,” Telford advises. “The oil sands projects in Northern Alberta have been the corner stone of UA work opportunities for the past 20+ years. Thank-you 488.”

Future Plans

Over the next three to five years Telford would like to see a 10-15% growth in all sectors, which includes heavy and light industrial, commercial, institutional, HVAC, sprinkler, residential, service and maintenance, industrial maintenance, pipeline, pipeline distribution and fabrication. There’s also a formerly big sector making its way back into the mainstream and that’s the shipbuilding industry.

“They haven’t built ships in this country in 25 years and it looks like now we’re going to build a couple down on the east coast and then we’re going to build three or four fairly large ships in British Columbia.”

Despite the colossal success of UA Canada, Telford is the first to say the union cannot simply sit back and rest on its laurels with the amount of competition within the industry. He and the executive team at UA Canada have made projections in terms of future growth to ensure the union remains at the forefront in securing projects and employment opportunities for the members.

“We need an increase in membership of at least 10% with a 10-15% market share growth to increase membership between 7,000 and 10,000 new members over the next three years. The market share is obtainable. We’re increasing in size at about 3-4% per year so if you compound that over three to five years you’re getting close to 15%.”

The UA has about $7.5 billion in pension funds and every Local union has a health and welfare plan for all their members and their families. All the money is members’ contribution. Telford would like to see each Local union have about 40% apprentices for the primary reason of lowering the average age of the workers, which is currently in and around the low 50s. For pension purposes, Telford wants to see that number go down because it won’t be that long before a significant number of those people are going to retire, so the union needs to be able to backfill the retirees.

“Two big projects that I hope to start but likely will be retired before they conclude would be a National Health and Welfare plan and a National Pension Plan,” Telford offers. “These would both likely take anywhere from three to five years to implement to the point that all members are covered, it would be a great benefit to our members.”
Telford also knows it’s essential for the union to continue to increase upon its political influence and not only maintain its stringent training standards, but continue to find new ways to improve and stay ahead of the competition, which is especially predominant nowadays with technology changing at such a rapid pace. A case in point is a big hospital that is currently being built in Telford’s hometown of Kingston.

“That hospital 25 years ago would have had 100 to 150 UA workers on it but today it will probably peak out at 40 – 50 and it’s because of technology. So did we lose out on 110 jobs? I’m not sure that’s the case because you can’t stymie technology. We’re going to build a better hospital with a better central heating system. It just makes it that much more important for us to get all the hospital contracts. We have to embrace technology and move ahead, every job is important” he states.

UA Canada makes it abundantly clear to all members that the union does not protect its members but rather it represents its members. It may seem like a subtle difference on the surface but Telford says the UA cannot and will not protect any individual who does not conduct business in a professional manner, which includes showing respect for all parties involved on any given project. Because of that no-nonsense approach and commitment to professionalism, Telford says it makes it easy to stand behind his workers and fight for their rights.

“We have a lot of people’s confidence back that we had lost a long time ago. We have to continue to be more professional and more productive and we have to be safer. I guarantee that every one of my workers will live up to the collective agreements signed,” he assures.

A number of great opportunities have come to the surface in recent years in all regions of Canada, but British Columbia is the one province that is expected to be especially strong due to the number of large-scale projects coming up over the next few years.

“We have 16 proposed LNGs of which you’re going to see one or maybe two,” Telford opines. “To feed that plant we’ve got to build five gas plants a billion a piece on the interior of British Columbia and then we’ve got to get 42-inch pipelines from the Alberta border through the mountains to somewhere around Kitimat, B.C. The gas lines will probably go. The lines that are being opposed are the oil lines because if it ruptures you’ve got a huge environmental problem. If a gas line ruptures you’ve got a fire and gas in the air hopefully in a remote area– that’s the difference.”

Saskatchewan has also been a booming province for the past three or four years where UA Local 179 recently surpassed 5 million man hours. That Local has grown from 1,100 to 1,700 workers in the past few years with about 450 to 500 apprentices. Virtually all the trades have grown in Saskatchewan for both men and women and First Nations.

“It’s a real success story with them building two training centres in Saskatoon and Regina. We have welding, plumbing, steamfitting and all the trades,” Telford explains.  It’s often said Saskatchewan will be the new Alberta, with as much oil there as Alberta.  Saskatchewan has potash, uranium and coal, making it a prime region for UA Canada to tap into.

The Ring of Fire in northern Ontario also has great promise and a rail system and better roadway will be needed to ignite further major mining projects. The refurbishments of the nuclear reactors at Darlington and Bruce Power in Ontario are expected to provide 12 to 18 years of work for about 5,000 UA members while on the east coast, Newfoundland is looking to build gravity-based drilling platforms.

When it comes to charities, UA Canada is intimately involved with a number of them in the many communities where its membership works and lives.

“The cancer charities, juvenile diabetes, mesothelioma and local food banks are some examples of how we are very involved in the community,” Telford says.

Another humanitarian effort that the UA is prominently positioned is with the Helmets to Hardhats project, which transitions former military personnel into the workforce. Many of these people are into their 40s, having had 20-year military careers.

“We are transitioning a lot of those people into the construction industry and I’m very proud to say the UA has more Helmets to Hardhats participants than any other trade,” Telford says.

Keeping a watchful eye out for the health and welfare of its workers, producing excellent work for clients and helping communities at large are three pillars that the UA Canada always has at the top of its list, or in other words, strict adherence to professionalism, productivity and safety.

www.uacanada.ca

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