Canadian Contractor

Patrick Flannery   

What trades shortage?

Canadian Contractor labour skilled

Is there a skilled trades shortage or not? Depends what you call a “skilled tradesperson.” Just about everyone in government and unions agrees there is a shortage. But some economists have tried to argue there is not. David’s note below may explain the discrepancy. There is no shortage of untrained, uninsured, unlicensed, non-fee-paying, under-the-table, truck-and-ladder people to take work. But there IS a shortage of professional tradespeople – perhaps exactly because it is so common and cheaper to be one of the other kind.

I worked as a construction and maintenance electrician for thirty years, laid off all the time. There was never a shortage of electricians in Ontario, never. Most all tradesman are laid off at one time or another; that’s why they call us journeymen. Made $40 an hour back in 1999. Been offered $20 in the last few years. Hiring agencies now make things worse; middle men taking wages and benefits from hard-working people. I feel bad for the future of the trades. And yes, the wages are very low and benefits few and far between. Joe the Plumber is very correct in his plight, I know from experience.

  • David


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