Journal of Commerce | Russell Hixson | April 9, 2021
This year Construction and Skilled Trades Month in B.C. is all about honouring construction and trades workers who have safely kept working through the pandemic.
“This is the second time we have held Construction Month during the pandemic,” said Chris Atchison, president of the BC Construction Association (BCCA), and one of the event’s core organizers. “It is hard to put into words what the industry has been through in the past year when all facets of it came together to mobilize and demonstrate to provincial officials that construction could carry on as a non-health care essential service. We are extremely proud of those efforts.”
Atchison said this year’s Construction Month theme, safety, has taken on even more profound meaning as the pandemic has compelled companies and workers to mitigate new risks in new ways.
“The relatively few cases in the B.C. construction industry is a testament to the effort and commitment it has towards safety,” he said. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but we are nowhere near being able to take our foot off the gas. We want our industry to know that we are proud of them.”
The BCCA, its partners and sponsors intend to do this in two ways during April.
First, $37,500 worth of grants are being offered to companies who want to participate in the #lunchboxchallenge. The challenge, which has employers treat their workers to lunch from restaurants near their jobsites and then nominate others to do the same, was first envisioned by Scott Construction last spring. Atchison noted so far 85 grants have already been claimed. Grant recipients also receive a kit with shirts, stickers, masks, carpenters pencils and more to celebrate their participation.
“We really want to recognize that the hospitality industry has been hit hard and we want to give back,” said Atchison.
Second, the industry is invited to participate in the Construction and Skilled Trades Month Leadership Awards. Atchison explained this year organizers want to honour individuals or groups that have shown exemplary leadership around safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are four awards to give out and industry can submit their nominations until April 15.
“I said early on last year that this was a time for dynamic leadership and leadership humility, and I continue to stand by that every day,” said Atchison. “We not only needed courageous leaders, we have had to be humble and accept that today’s decision may not stand and needs to change.”
Atchison added the pandemic has revealed what many in the industry have always known.
“First and foremost, we have to say thank you,” said Atchison, addressing the province’s construction and skilled trades workers. “You have demonstrated that you are a pandemic-proof industry. We have always known that you are essential, and you have proven it to this province and Canada. Thank you for the work you are doing to build the province. We need you now and will need you going forward.”
Atchison also noted that without Construction Month’s sponsors, the event would not be possible. This year’s sponsors included: The BCCA, the Northern Regional Construction Association, the Southern Interior Construction Association, the Vancouver Island Construction Association, the Vancouver Regional Construction Association, LNG Canada, the BC Construction Safety Alliance, BCIT, Coastal GasLink, GCPay, WorkSafeBC, BC Housing, BC Hydro, the Construction Labour Relations Association, FortisBC, the Industry Training Authority, BCCA Employee Benefits Trust, BCCWITT, the Builders Code, CGI Constructors and COCA BC.