To say that as a society, we have a challenge with mental wellness, is to vastly understate the seriousness of a health crisis that is raging out of control. An epidemic before COVID-19, the pandemic-forced social isolation resulting from job losses, the closure of schools and religious institutions, and the cancellation of community events and family celebrations, is compounding the mental health calamity that has gripped our communities.
There remains a widespread hesitancy to talk openly about mental health issues and a cloud of stigma prevents the kinds of conversations that are needed to help people who are struggling. Mental health is an issue running very deep, but very silent – when it surfaces, the consequences are too often deeply tragic for individuals, their families, workplaces and communities.
The focus of ICBA’s new Workplace Wellness program is to help change this culture and make it easier for those who are struggling to ask for help.
The data as it relates to construction workers is sobering:
- More than half the employed people who have died of opioid overdoses in BC in recent years worked in construction
- WorkSafeBC reports that mental health claims in construction were up 25% from 2017 to 2019
- The risk of suicide for those working in construction is seven times the national average (For more statistics on mental health, click HERE to see our Construction Monitor.)
So, there is a human imperative for construction contractors. The construction industry has much to be proud of in how effectively it has enhanced commitments to workers’ physical safety in recent decades. Now, we must strive to create workplace cultures that foster all aspects of worker wellbeing.
Over the past year, ICBA has been consulting with contractors, construction workers, and wellness experts to develop a workplace wellness program with the construction worker at its centre. Everything is designed for the unique challenges of construction – the stress and pressure to meet schedules, the physical toll, life in a remote work camp, and the project driven nature of the work.
Given the impact of mental wellness in the workplace and how devastating the COVID-19 pandemic has been for so many contractors and their employees, ICBA is offering this new program free to ICBA members.
The program is made possible by the support of Canada Life, one of ICBA’s key group health benefits providers. We are grateful to Canada Life for supporting our work – they are important partners and contributing a lot to our Wellness efforts.
The ICBA Wellness program was launched in April on the 46th anniversary of ICBA’s formation. On April 26, 1975, 163 contractors gathered at the Terra Nova Motor Inn in Trail, BC, and formed the country’s first open shop construction association. At the time, they represented just a fraction of the construction companies in BC – perhaps 10 per cent of all workers.
Today, ICBA is one of BC’s largest and most sophisticated business associations. We represent more than 3,300 construction and responsible resource development members and clients (employing more than 100,000 workers), directly train nearly 5,000 people every year, and are the single largest sponsor of trades apprentices in BC. ICBA Benefits is one of the leading independent providers of group health and retirement benefits in western Canada, supporting more than 75,000 Canadians.
Open shop contractors now employ 85 per cent of the quarter million construction workers in BC, and 82 per cent of all trade apprentices. We thank those 163 founders – many of whom are still involved in ICBA – and all our members for your steadfast support over the past 46 years.