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Ordinarily at this time of year, HRAI would be telling you about our numerous accomplishments over the past year representing the interests of members on a wide variety of important regulatory, legislative and government policy issues.  There are certainly lots of good stories to tell, but COVID-19 has made this anything but an ordinary year.

Since March, HRAI’s government relations work has been focused primarily on assisting members in dealing with the greatest economic disruption to the global economy since the Second World War.  More recently, our focus has shifted from reacting to and managing this crisis (and all the “mini-crises” that arise on a daily basis) to engaging with government on a plan for economic recovery after the worst of the pandemic subsides.

Throughout this crisis, HRAI has been there for you.

“Essential service” in the face of expected shut-downs

In the early days of the COVID crisis, HRAI focused on protecting members’ collective interests in being recognized an “essential service” in the face of expected shut-downs of most major sectors of the economy.  HRAI engaged with all provincial premiers, stating the case for including HVACR in the list of essential services and, for the most part, all provinces have followed that advice (albeit, to different degrees and  not always with absolute clarity).  Where there has been lack of clarity, and therefore uncertainty within the industry, HRAI has worked to get clarifications and has positioned the industry to be an active part of the re-opening of the economy.

Ensuring that members are properly informed of Government Support Programs

At the federal level, HRAI monitored on a daily basis -- and tried to influence where necessary -- the rollout of government support programs for displaced workers (e.g. the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit) and for employers affected by the downturn in business activities (e.g. the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy), ensuring that members are properly informed as information becomes available.  The association worked diligently to obtain and share clarifications on program details (most notably via webinars and, again, through almost daily updates to the COVID-19 Resource Centre). Where programs showed gaps, HRAI communicated industry concerns to the government, with positive results (e.g. changes to CERB and CEWS).

Securing Funding to Subsidize HRAI Training for HVAC Professionals

HRAI was successful in securing financial support from the federal government for the delivery of all of its core technical training in a virtual, online setting.  This initial support program was aimed only at HRAI training programs.  HRAI is also working with other stakeholders to secure government funding for a broader array of industry relevant training to ensure industry personnel are well prepared for the return to prosperity.

NEW COVID-19 Awareness Training Programs with Utilities and Government

The association is also developing a COVID-19 Awareness training program, with the support of utilities and government, that will assist contractors and their employees in understanding their  health and safety obligations under the new post-pandemic conditions, as well as protocols for engaging with customers and offering appropriate IAQ and ventilation solutions to meet new expectations in the marketplace.

What does the Road to recovery look like?

With the worst of the economic impacts (almost) behind us, HRAI turned its attention to engaging with government on how best to re-ignite the economy in a way that balances public health concerns while ensuring a strong recovery for the industry.  Most provinces have responded favourably.

The federal government remains fully committed to the promises of the 2019 election campaign and its GHG reduction targets, so there is some expectation that economic stimulus programs will include a significant emphasis on incentivizing expenditures on home energy retrofits and building upgrades with a focus on energy efficient and low-carbon technologies.

Meeting the needs of the HVACR Industry

The federal government has also signalled that it would like to see all Provincial governments pursue similar programs (and not ruling out the option that the federal government might fill the gap where provinces fail to do so).  The Ontario Government, for one, has announced an “Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee” of ministers tasked with developing a recovery plan.  HRAI is meeting with these governments and is working hard to ensure that the design, timing, and rollout of stimulus programs will meet the needs of the HVACR industry.

Among other things, HRAI is collaborating with other industry groups to make constructive recommendations to government leaders.  Most recently, HRAI supported an Efficiency Canada initiative to engage federal ministers and MPs via a letter-writing campaign that tied members in to their local MPs.  You will see more information on this initiative in the next few days.

HRAI has been there for you during the worst of this crisis, and we hope to remain by your side as we navigate the path to recovery.

We won’t be able to do it without your support!  Renewing your membership will help HRAI continue to build on the progress we’ve made.

For more information, contact Martin Luymes at 416-453-5899 or email mluymes@hrai.ca.