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A bill aimed at increasing the mobility and versatility of construction workers was adopted Thursday in the National Assembly.

An Act to Modernize the Construction Industry (Bill 51), presented by Labour Minister Jean Boulet, will allow greater sharing of tasks between certain construction trades.

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It will also ease the rules governing the mobility of workers between the different regions of Quebec.

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It also aims to strengthen the role, governance and operation of the Commission de la construction du Québec.

Employer associations welcomed the adoption of the bill, saying it is likely to increase productivity on site, in particular through the decompartmentalization of certain professions and greater interregional mobility of workers.

“Although the new law does not provide for full mobility of apprentice workers, the ACQ believes that the changes made will allow for better allocation of resources. Indeed, the new legislation guarantees qualified workers and professionals in various trades the right to freely choose their work sites and regions. For the ACQ, it is essential that access to employment is not limited by the place of residence of workers,” said the Association de la construction du Québec.

The trade unions, however, said they fear for the quality of certain work, because of the sharing of tasks, and for issues of health and safety at work. They also fear the repercussions on workers in remote regions.

Heavy equipment operators of Local 791 of the FTQ-Construction, for example, denounced “the immediate danger” in “authorizing all trades in the construction industry to operate heavy machinery.”

Union associations also fear the repercussions of the new rules facilitating interregional mobility on workers in remote regions and the friction that this could cause, if they find themselves unemployed, while they see workers from other regions arriving to work on construction sites in their region.

Boulet said he believes the law will facilitate the execution of construction projects. “It is a whole series of means that will help the industry to better carry out the hospital, school, housing and energy, industrial or commercial infrastructure projects that Quebec needs to ensure its prosperity and to successfully complete the energy transition.”

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