Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation (NLHC)


Carpenters Millwrights College (CMC) is a private training college established in 1996 and owned by the Carpenters Union, Local 579 and the Millwright Union, Local 1009. Choices For Youth/Train for Trades contracts with CMC to provide basic safety training for the youth in a number of key areas including: Fall Protection, Standard First Aid, WHMIS, Powerline Hazards, Fire Extinguisher and Ramset gun training.

Originally this training was done in a single block of a couple weeks, but is now spread out to accommodate the revolving entry dates of the program.

It is very important for them to come and have some sort of formal training before going to a construction site. Construction sites are very dangerous. They need to be cognizant of how they can get hurt, so we focus a lot of the training on safety…by not doing an introductory level training, you're putting youth at risk by having their first introduction to a jobsite being on the jobsite. They really need to prepare for what they're getting into so they're safe.” —Kelly Power, Director of Carpenters Millwrights College

The housing arm of the provincial government Newfoundland Labrador Housing Corporation was established in 1967 and reports to the Minister Responsible for Housing. Its mandate is “to develop and administer housing assistance policy and programs for the benefit of low to moderate income households throughout the province.” In 2013-2014, 15,046 households received direct assistance through the various social housing programs, including public affordable rental housing, rent supplements, subsidized mortgages, residential energy efficiency program etc. NLHC directly owns and operates 5,588 residential rental properties throughout the province. It is in these units that the Train for Trades program primarily operates. (NLHC 2013-2014 Annual Report).

NLHC has two programs that Train for Trades works under. One is the Modernization and Improvement (M&I) program, which works to upgrade the condition of social housing stock. The second program involves basement retrofits, which are part of the Heat Subsidy Program (discussed in the section on Energy Poverty).

“It’s the right thing to do. You’re helping your tenants, you’re helping your organization in the long run because you may be reducing your renovations and repairs. And preventing mould and these sorts of things. You’re also helping the kids that are most vulnerable and at risk. If we can get them on the right path, then it’s all worth it in the end. It’s the right thing to do for any community in my mind.” —Dennis Kendell – Regional Operations Executive Director, Newfoundland Labrador Housing Corporation.

CUPE Newfoundland Labrador has 60 different employer groups representing over 6,000 workers. Local 1860 represents the workers at NLHC. The union has played a positive partnership role by supporting the development of the Train for Trades program. Approximately 60% of work at NHLC is contracted out, and as a result the union does not oppose the work that the youth are doing for NLHC.  The basement retrofits specifically were continually put off by NLHC due to more emergent issues.

While in some ways this sounds like a minor role, it is a very key and important one. The union could have blocked the project from getting off the ground if they had been at risk of losing work themselves. Choice for Youth met with union staff and members several times to educate them about the project and developed a cooperative partnership that allows the work to go forward at no risk to the union.

The union represents “the working unions that youth who complete the Train for Trades program will be looking to join. CUPE’s support of the program, assistance during the training stages, and placement of youth following the program, have been vital to participant success and will continue to factor heavily in the long-term feasibility of Train for Trades” (Canadian Homelessness Research Network, 2013). 

Homeless Hub Thoughts:

Developing solid partnerships are key to success. Train for Trades built their partnerships by providing upfront information and education about the types of youth their serve, the goals of the program and what the partnership would look like. 

Partnerships add to the credibility and future sustainability of programs; this is particularly true for a new program. The visible show of support from others is often key to obtaining government grants.  

CFY/T4T evolved their partnerships over the years as the program stabilized. For example, in the beginning NLHC provided all sub-contractors and supplies; T4T does this on their own now. But they do still provide support beyond what they would provide to a mainstream construction company. For example, during each neighbourhood project NLHC leaves one unit empty for T4T to use as their headquarters.

They have signed Memorandums of Understanding that outline the roles for each partner. This is very helpful in reducing confusion and conflict. 

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The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness acknowledges with thanks the financial support of The Home Depot Canada Foundation. Thanks to the staff, partners and service users (past and present) of Choices for Youth and Train for Trades who assisted in the development of the toolkit by taking part in interviews, providing data and resources or reviewing information.

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