April 2019

The Hon. Patty Hajdu | Future Skills: The Importance of Labour & Skilled Trades in Canada

11:30am-1:30pm | One King West Hotel - 1 King St. W. , Toronto

What does the future of trades and skilled work look like in Canada?

The future of Canada’s workforce is changing. Technology, artificial intelligence and data are transforming jobs and opportunities. What changes will we see in the labour market? What shifts will this cause? What steps can we take to showcase skilled trades as a first-choice career? How can we support young women and diverse Canadians beginning their careers in the skilled trades? Join the Economic Club of Canada and expert panel on April 29, 2019 to explore these questions and more.

Ian Howcroft, CEO of Skills Ontario
Joe Vaccaro, President & CEO of Ontario Home Builders Association
Jamie McMillan, Journeyman, Ironworker & Boilermaker and owner of KickAss Careers

Mandy Rennehan - the Blue Collar CEO, founder and CEO of Freshco

Special remarks by:
The Honourable Patricia Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

- Lunch will be served -

Member price:
Individual seat: $89 +HST
Table (seats 10): $800 +HST

Regular price:
Individual seat: $110 +HST
Table (seats 10): $990 +HST


- For information about accessibility, please email kara@economicclub.ca
- Dietary restriction notes and meal requests must be submitted to kara@economicclub.ca by Tuesday, April 23, 2019.

*The views expressed on the Economic Club platform are not that of the Economic Club or its affiliates but of the speakers alone and the organizations they represent*

Ian Howcroft

Skills Ontario

Ian Howcroft

An action oriented leader and decision maker with a focus on customer needs and service. One who can lead a team and is able to build consensus to maximize and leverage strengths of team members to the overall benefit of the organization. Strong background and interest in advocacy, government relations, public policy, legal/ regulatory issues, administrative law and human resources.

Customer focused; working to better develop and deliver services and products that members need and realize benefits from. Apropos examples include successful advocacy initiatives that also resulted in assistive products for members in the area of health and safety (Certification and Business Results initiatives) and materials in other areas such as diversity, training, literacy, and essential skills. Built partnerships with the relevant organizations to develop products and increase impact. Also responsible for securing CME’s most successful business development program to assist manufacturers implementing advanced technologies to increase productivity and grow their business. (SMART). Skilled at consensus building from groups with varied interests.

- Chief Executive Officer (2018 to Present)
- Board Director on Skills Ontario Board (2018 to Present)

Jamie McMillan

Boilermaker, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers
Co-Founder of Workplace Equality (We) Awareness Ribbon

Jamie McMillan

Jamie is a journeyman Ironworker, boilermaker and professional speaker. Jamie owns KickAss Careers. www.kickasscareers.org.

Growing up Jamie wasn’t aware of the vast opportunity in the construction industry. She wanted to be a miner like her father but was discouraged by its absence of women. She followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a health care professional. Jamie spent years working in health care facilities, homecare, and bartending/serving at restaurants and pubs.

Discovering the trades changed her career path and gave her a feeling of self-worth and empowerment. Jamie became fascinated and intrigued by her desire to learn to create with steel and figure out ways to put it all together with cranes, rigging, bolts, and welds. She loved the physical challenges, being one of the crew, and seeing the results of the work everyone did together knowing it would stand there for years to come. She knew there had to be others out other who would love to find a job that made them happy. Since then she has become extremely passionate about encouraging others to seek out similar pathways.

Joe Vaccaro

President & CEO
Ontario Home Builders Association

Joe Vaccaro

In 2013, Joe Vaccaro was named Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA). Prior to his role as CEO, Joe acted as the association’s Chief Operating Officer after serving as the VP of Policy and Government Relations at the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

AS CEO, Joe oversees operations of the Ontario-wide organization which is comprised of 4,000-member companies organized into 29 local associations representing professionals within the new home and renovation industry. OHBA is focused on improving new housing supply, choice and more affordable options for Ontario’s #homebelievers and renovation consumers by positively impacting provincial legislation, regulation and policy that affect the industry.

Prior to his industry association career path, Vaccaro served as a senior advisor and assistant to the Ministers of Economic Development and Trade, Chair of Management Board and the Minister of Government Services.

A graduate of York University where he received his Honours Degree in Political Science with a minor in Philosophy, Joe identifies his summers working in the family residential framing and new construction business as shaping his understanding and appreciation for the social, economic and environmental impact the building and land development industry has on local, provincial and federal public policy development and decisions.

Mandy Rennehan

The Blue Collar CEO
Founder and CEO of Freshco

Mandy Rennehan

She left her hometown of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, at 18 with a dirty hockey bag and an audacious dream. By 19, she founded Freshco, Canada’s #1, full-service, reconstruction and retail maintenance provider operating across Canada and the eastern United States serving clients like Anthropologie,
Apple, Banana Republic, Bell Media, Home Depot, Lululemon, Nike, Restoration Hardware, RBC, Sephora, The Gap, Tiffany & Co., plus many more.
Freshco and Mandy have received countless business awards including, Canada’s Most Admired CEO, Toronto Region Board of Trade Business Leader of the Year, Top 25 Women of Influence, the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur “Momentum” Award, Growth 500 Excellence in Innovation, (WXN’s) Top 100 Most Powerful Women – Hall of Fame, CGLCC LGBT Business of the Year and Atlantic Business Magazine’s Top 50 CEOs.

Mandy’s vision goes well beyond building successful businesses. She
is redefining the collar, blue™ to help solve the massive skilled trade
shortage in North America. It is a profound economic and social issue that
affects everyone. Consumers are paying more and waiting longer for services,
companies aren’t able to scale, and important infrastructure projects,
like roads, transit and hospitals are being delayed. Mandy is challenging the
misconception that white-collar jobs are “better” or “more desirable” than
blue-collar ones. Society needs both collars, and if we do not change this, the
crippling effects of the skilled labour shortage will only get worse.

Mandy defi es labels. The description she often gets is “refreshing.” Her
(respectfully) uncensored honesty is matched by her quick wit, East Coast humour,and big heart. It is impossible to remain unchanged after coming into
contact with this authentic, self-taught and self-made powerhouse.

Patricia Hajdu

Minister of Employment
Workforce Development and Labour

Patricia Hajdu

Patty Hajdu was elected as Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North in 2015. She was appointed to cabinet by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and served as Minister of Status of Women from November 2015 until January 2017, when she was appointed as Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour.

Minister Hajdu previously worked in public health and focused on drug policy, youth development and homelessness. Prior to her election, she ran the largest homeless shelter in Northwestern Ontario.

She is a compassionate advocate for Thunder Bay-Superior North and all of Canada, believing that a more inclusive country benefits everyone. As Member of Parliament and Minister, she remains firmly focused on ensuring every Canadian has a fair chance at success.

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