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The industry mobilizes for more women in construction

March 23, 2015

Launch of the new Programme d’accès à l’égalité des femmes dans l’industrie de la construction

Today, the president and CEO of the Commission de la construction du Québec (CCQ), Diane Lemieux, and the minister of labour, employment, and social solidarity, Sam Hamad, launched the new Programme d’accès à l’égalité des femmes dans l’industrie de la construction (PAEF) 2015–2024. They were joined by the minister of justice, attorney general of Quebec, and minister responsible for status of women, Stéphanie Vallée.

The launch of the program for women’s equal access to the construction industry took place in the presence of representatives of unions and employers in the construction industry, of governmental and educational organizations involved in the program, and of women’s groups active in gaining access for women to non-traditional trades.

The objectives of the PAEF are to increase the number of women practising a trade or occupation in the construction industry and to raise their proportion in the total workforce. The CCQ will be responsible for implementation, monitoring, and production of the annual accountability report and triennial assessments of the PAEF. “We have an ambitious, but achievable, objective,” stated Lemieux. “There are more than 26,000 companies in the Québec construction industry, 83% of which have fewer than five employees. What we want is to reach at least 3% women in the construction industry by 2018 – approximately 4,500 women – which would bring us up to the Canadian average. It will take the support of all of our partners, but especially the industry’s employers, for us to reach this objective.”

Key concrete actions

The PAEF is the result of a broad-based consultation that made it possible to target obstacles to the presence of women in the industry and to attack them systematically. The program includes 11 objectives and 40 measures, 22 of which are under the CCQ’s responsibility. These measures are grouped around three orientations: supporting women’s careers, creating a favourable work environment, and ensuring shared responsibility. The program’s action list includes priority access to specialized training centres; relaxation of administrative rules to facilitate women’s obtaining a first job in construction; increased awareness raising, sensitization, guidance, and mentoring; and stronger in-company training highlighting the skill and management of mixed-sex teams. It should also be noted that there will now be better access to washroom facilities on construction sites, in response to the repeated requests of women who work or have worked in the industry.

“Our government is determined to have the health and safety rules and standards and the training norms adapted to women in the construction sector,” emphasized Hamad. “In addition to the players in the industry, 11 governmental departments and agencies and 14 vocational training centres have committed to the standard of male-female equity in construction. It is essential for all of the stakeholders involved in implementing the new program for women’s equal access to the construction industry to be mobilized in order to reach the targets set.”

A clear governmental choice

The PAEF responds to measure 38 of the government’s action plan for equality of women and men, Pour que l’égalité de droit devienne une égalité de fait.

The measure, which requires that the PAEF be relaunched, emphasizes not only measures to attract women to the industry, but also the importance of retaining them on construction sites.

“The numbers don’t lie,” concluded Vallée. “Women represent only 1.38% of total employees in the industry, which leads us to the conclusion that we have no choice but to take strong measures. We must ensure not only that women are interested in the construction trades, but also that they are well trained to work in the industry. And most fundamental is that women be respected on construction sites so that they keep their jobs and progress in their trades.”