Kinew Introduces Bill to Protect Trades Apprentices, Drive Post-Pandemic Economy

June 3, 2021

Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg MB—Manitoba NDP Leader introduced a bill yesterday that would reverse the PC’s dangerous cuts to workplace safety regulations and ensure Manitobans training as trades apprentices are kept safe and supported.

“The trades have always been an excellent career option for young Manitobans looking for rewarding, good jobs. These are the jobs that are the secret to our province’s post-pandemic rebound,” said Kinew. “But the PC’s changes put those young people at risk of harm by removing important safety regulations, and gives employers an opportunity to pay their workers less. It means short-term harm for workers and long-term harm to good jobs in the trades industry. The PC’s need to recognize this mistake and pass our bill as fast as possible to keep workers safe.”

Late last year, the PC government changed a regulation that would remove a requirement for employers to maintain a one-to-one ratio for training apprentices and journeypersons overseeing them. The move was criticized by labour groups and families for not only putting young worker at risk of harm on the job, but also encouraging a rise of low-skilled, low-wage labour in Manitoba’s trades industries. Kinew’s bill reverses the PC’s cut, so that employers are required to provide a one-to-one ratio.

Cindy Skanderberg, the mother of a young electrician apprentice who was killed on the job while working unsupervised, said the death of her son and others like him clearly “means nothing, nothing to this government”. After Skanderberg’s son died in 1999, the NDP government introduced safety laws to protect young trainees.

“Unfortunately we’ve seen too many examples of young workers in training who have been hurt or killed at work. We owe it to those workers and their families to strengthen safety regulations, not weaken them,” said NDP Labour Critic Tom Lindsey.

Sudhir Sandhu, CEO of the Manitoba Building Trades (MBT), commended the NDP for introducing the bill. MBT has been vocal about the long-term impacts the ratio change will have on skilled trades professionals. Sandhu warned without the proper supervision requirements employers will increasingly opt to hire low-skilled workers over journeypersons, who they can pay less. Young people looking for a career in trades will be disincentivized to pursue Red Seal or other certifications, meaning Manitoba’s trades workforce will become lower-skilled, lower-paid and experience higher safety risk.