The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) holds its annual national conference that gathers professionals and business owners in the construction industry to discuss emerging trends, challenges and offer network opportunities and focus on the future of the sector. The event took place between March 7-11 in Tuscon, Arizona, and welcomed industry leaders in the institutional, civil, commercial, and industrial industries across the country.
The multi-day event for a variety of industries included breakfast and lunch, a welcoming night reception and dinner, the CCA awards ceremony and luncheon, and a closing gala that was sponsored by Borden Ladner Gervais LLP and Graham. In between, the conference held a number of events, sessions and welcomed keynote speakers.
Here are some of the most important summations from the 2023 CCA National Awards conference:
Immigration and Combating Bias
Keynote speaker, Tareq Hadhad, led a CCA 2023 panel regarding immigration, refugees, and combating bias. Hadhad was a Syrian refugee that immigrated to Canada during the Syrian war and established his company, Peace by Chocolate in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. During the panel, he explored how the construction industry can support immigrants and refugee employees, challenged biases surrounding immigration, and offered best practices on how business owners can enhance their success.
“Breaking barriers requires you to dream big,” explained Hadhad. “If you don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, you need to turn it on yourself. Supporting immigrants and refugees is the right thing to do.” He focused on job creation and how he was able to do so by utilizing a network of refugee community members from Nova Scotia and across Canada to support the local economy. Hadhad equated kindness to a return on investment that company owners should focus on instead of solely prioritizing their return on investment.
CCA’s net-zero panel concentrated on how construction businesses can prepare themselves for public procurement. Canada is committed to prioritizing the reduction of emissions and supporting companies in implementing solutions for absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The hot topic during this panel discussion was net-zero procurement.
A net-zero approach applies to lowering greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible. This ongoing conversation has been quite popular in the construction industry and many provinces have already begun carbon tracking and implementing net-zero procurement methods. During the panel, sector leaders discussed how to introduce new net-zero solutions and how businesses can prepare for green procurement. According to a statement on the CCA website, “Canada’s construction industry is ready to become a leader in the transition to a net-zero economy and is optimistic about the promised investments in green building and innovation, including the Clean Technologies and Clean Hydrogen tax credits.”
“However, the restrictive labour conditions attached to these incentives effectively discriminate against an important segment of the Canadian workforce and, in particular, small and medium-sized companies. Equally concerning is that these restrictions were announced without proper consultation of industry stakeholders.”
Key Industry Players
The CEO roundtable welcomed notable industry players in the construction sector to gather and discuss trends, challenges, and future opportunities. The panel discussed risk mitigation for companies and how to improve procurement and workforce structure. CEOs Silvy Wright of Northbridge Insurance and Craig Courtemanche of Procore Technologies led the roundtable which also includes conversations surrounding data trusts, green building, Indigenous infrastructure, and more.
Courtemanche also discussed the importance of supporting young people entering the industry, explaining“The young folks that are coming out of university now, they expect modern technology to be the tools that they use to get their job done, because they’ve only grown up with things that are very usable like Facebook and Instagram,” he explained, adding that progressive companies with advanced technology and equipment have an advantage in the job market.
As for the future of the industry, Wright stated, “I think we can all agree, there is a lot of uncertainty as we predict 2023 and 2024.”
“A strong economy is good for construction. It’s good for governments, it’s good for all of us. So where is it going with regards to 2023? Well, there are two things that we are watching: interest rates and inflation, which really go hand in hand.”
Ellie King is the Editor of Wood Industry / Le monde du bois magazine and weekly E-digest. She has years of experience in B2B writing and editing and is empowered by the opportunity to share the marvels, pitfalls and weekly news of Canada’s secondary wood industry with our readers.