Finance Minister Scott Fielding confirmed in a conversation with industry and union representatives Thursday the government will not repeal the Construction Industry Wages Act and will be looking to a review to update the wage rates now in place.
“We thanked the minister for the decision to affirm the value of the wage act, which has helped our industry maintain a competitive and productivity advantage that helps prevent the migration of labour and trades to other jurisdictions,” MHCA President Chris Lorenc said.
Lorenc made his comments immediately following the video conference had with the minister Thursday.
Lorenc stressed the act provides for minimum wages, which has served as a useful starting point for industry in setting compensation packages.
MHCA and a number of other industry associations noted their members pay in excess of the minimums; the shortage of skilled labour and trades personnel is a real challenge across the construction field.
Shortages of personnel have stressed recruitment of skilled personnel, but retention is just as important because workers have mobility across jurisdictions.
The province further agreed to strike a review panel to update the wage rates, which have not been raised in the act since 2017.
“We are consulting valued industry and labour representatives to modernize the current act instead of repealing it. We have listened and accepted their advice to organize a working group to review the minimum wage rates and offer advice to government,” the minister said, in a tweet issued at the end of the meeting.
The MHCA joined with industry stakeholders – the Winnipeg Construction Association, Mechanical Contractors Association of Manitoba, Merit Contractors Association of Manitoba and the Construction Labour Relations Association of Manitoba – underscoring the wide view that CIWA is a useful piece of legislation that assists contractors in setting competitive wages.
“Construction firms big and small work hard to recruit and invest in training and retaining all their employees – trades, labourers and professionals,” said Yvette Milner, President of Merit Manitoba.
CIWA sets out the minimum hourly and overtime wage rates, and the standard hours of work per day, week or month in the heavy construction, and the industrial, commercial, institutional construction industry sectors.