CKCA stands with CMC on EI reform

CKCA is a member of the Canadian Manufacturing Coalition (CMC) and attended a recent meeting that invited the EI Employers Commissioner, Nancy Healy to provide an overview of the EI reform currently underway. Proposed changes pose concerns for employers still recovering from the impact of Covid-19.

As a group, the CMC discussed that reform of EI should lessen the burden on employers and not add to it. While there is no question that the EI system is in need of updating (it has been 25 years since the last revisions were done),  the challenges business face in Canada are substantial as we experience unprecedented labour shortages. Most recent statistics revealed there are approximately 1 million jobs in Canada now available and we are at record lows for unemployment rates.

Therefore CKCA, along with a number of other manufacturing industries have written to Government asking for meaningful reform of the EI system that strikes the right balance for the employer and the employee. Consideration must be given for the challenges business currently face. The current plans include passing along some of the EI costs to employers in the form of increased premiums, meanwhile increasing the EI benefits to employees.

EI must be responsive and available to the unemployed workers while they seek other employment, but benefits should not act as a disincentive to work.  The EI system should remain as a temporary job-loss protection program.

Without sufficient workers, industry will be forced to reduce capacity, which our industry is already experiencing, or even worse, face closing. Closed business will diminish the Government’s ability to collect much needed funds to support EI benefits. Increasing business costs continue to threaten business in Canada and our ability to compete globally. The kitchen cabinet sector faces these challenges with the low cost of foreign kitchen cabinet imports. Therefore it is critical that  Government policy and reform of existing systems help to support and strengthen Canadian industry.

We’ll keep you posted on how this progresses in the weeks ahead.

Overview of Government’s Review here »

Current Consultation (ending July 29) here»

Institute for Research on Public Policy here»


Labour shortage is a very serious issue for kitchen cabinet industry (Part 2)

The Canadian Kitchen Cabinet Association is active in pursuing solutions to the shortage of skilled labour in the kitchen cabinet industry. It is working with its partnering associations, the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters and Canadian Federation of Independent Business, to track the complex issues surrounding labour shortages. CKCA is engaged on a number of fronts: attracting and retaining skilled labour, increasing awareness of attractive career opportunities within the industry, and advocating for better immigration and foreign workers programs. There are interesting developments in each of these areas.

In a recent report, the Conference Board of Canada and the Future Skills Centre assessed that the unrealized value of Canada’s skills shortage is equivalent to 1.3 percent of the country’s GDP. This unrealized value has  topped $25 billion in 2020, up from $15 billion in 2015. All levels of government recognize this is a critical problem and are finding ways to encourage greater numbers of skilled tradespeople. For example, in Ontario, the provincial government launched Skilled Trades Ontario, a new Crown agency, to improve trades training and simplify services. The new agency will promote and market the trades, develop the latest training and curriculum standards, and provide a streamlined user-friendly experience for tradespeople. It is hoped that the agency can deliver more skilled workers for in-demand jobs.

Specific to the kitchen cabinet industry, CKCA is supportive of the training program at the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing. The new program’s objective is to attract professionals and entrepreneurs to the wood products industry. Kudos to CAWP for opening the program to people without a background in wood products, who are preparing to take on supervisory or management roles in the industry.

CKCA is also working with four leading industry groups to offer an online jobs portal that will make it easier to promote job opportunities and attract new skilled workers to woodworking. Companies can post “help wanted” ads free-of-charge on in order to connect with potential candidates.

Effective immigration policies and foreign workers programs are necessary for Canada to increase the size of the country’s workforce. Canada needs one million workers over the next five years according to the latest federal analysis. This has prompted Ottawa, in early April, to give several provinces the ability to hire significantly more temporary foreign workers as part of changes to its immigration rules. The changes are meant to streamline the application process for employers.

In conjunction with this, the federal government is accepting 1.3 million new immigrants over the next three years, in part, to help fill critical labour shortages. On the surface this needs to be applauded. However, it is disturbing to learn that the government has actually cut its target for skilled workers because of the existing backlog of 1.8 million immigrants in the queue to be processed. In fact, some reports indicate Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has paused new invitations altogether because the department cannot process them.

There is no silver bullet to solving Canada’s labour shortage. It is the reason why CKCA is approaching the issues in a multifaceted manner. It is essential the Association continues to foster and support educational and awareness initiatives, attract new talent from available pools of executive and skilled workers, and work with government to improve immigration and foreign worker programs.

If you are interested in knowing more details about what CKCA is doing regarding the shortage of skilled tradespeople, or wish to join our efforts in advancing industry solutions, connect with the CKCA executive director Sandra Wood –

What did we say in Part 1?  Read here

Benefits of working in the kitchen cabinet manufacturing sector

Walk through a kitchen cabinet manufacturing company in Canada these days and you will see a diverse range of jobs.

Everything from design to engineering to woodworking and management. There’s something for everyone.

So why consider working in our sector? There’s lots of great reasons to get in to our industry. Most people you talk to who have been in the industry a long time will tell you that they love it and it’s why they stayed. But we know there has to be other reasons to enter this industry so here’s some of the top reasons:

  • Regular working hours to balance with friends and family
  • Lots of employment opportunities
  • Essential industry, everyone has a kitchen! (our industry kept very busy through Covid-19)
  • Make a difference in people’s lives by designing and building beautiful spaces where people live and work
  • Wide range of jobs to choose from within the industry
  • High School or College level apprenticeships
  • NO large student debt
  • Career Advancement to work your way up in the business
  • More independent to be able to fix things and have the confidence to do it
  • Option to work with your hands and create – the skies the limit!
  • Lots of tech, software/robotics etc.
  • Great working environment, part of a team
  • Canadian industry, manufacturing a Canadian product and being proud to do so
  • Good for environment – Wood is a sustainable product
  • Men and women are in this industry – women make great woodworkers!
  • Own your own business – be your own boss!
Continual Work!
"I don't think there will ever be a time that we are no longer making things out of wood. I feel like there's always a place for woodworkers in the world. I can't think of a lot of disadvantages to it because it's a pretty useful trade and you can be creative, add your own flair."
Learning and Growth
"You learn something new every day. It's a satisfying and fun job because you're building something and you're done and you look at what you've done and you are proud and impressed with what you can do."
Skills for Work and Home Life
"It's super fun once you get used to it. It's something that you'll always have, you'll never forget it. It's handy if you ever need to build something in your home and it's just a good skill to have."

Labour shortage is a very serious issue for kitchen cabinet industry (Part 1)

It cannot be overstated: the Canadian kitchen cabinet industry is facing a serious labour shortage issue – and there are signs that it will get worse if the industry and government does not immediately take action. The Canadian Kitchen Cabinet Association is sounding the alarm bell to heighten awareness and accelerate strategies to attract and retain workers in the industry.

In its Fall 2021 study on labour shortages in our country, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) reported:Labour shortage is not a new phenomenon in Canada, yet the pressure has intensified in recent years. More than half (55%) of Canadian entrepreneurs are struggling to hire the workers they need, leaving them with no choice but to work more hours, as well as delay or refuse new orders.”

There are many signs that the situation may have passed the tipping point.

  • Ontario Chamber of Commerce reported a total of 62 percent of Ontario businesses are confronting labour shortages and they expect this to be a long-term problem.
  • Canadian Apprenticeship Forum states skilled trades require an average of 75,000 new apprentices to be hired every year in the next five years in order to meet the demand.
  • Buildforce Canada reports the construction industry requires 309,000 new recruits by 2030.

What kitchen cabinet businesses are experiencing with its labour force is not unique, yet this industry must find solutions to its labour shortage issues or its future prosperity – perhaps survival – is in question. This industry in Canada employs almost 25,000 and Statistics Canada employment figures reveal there is currently a ten percent job vacancy rate. So, there is a significant shortfall of labour today.

Then there is the matter of a greying workforce. The federal government recently launched a campaign to promote skilled trades after its recent projections that estimate 700,000 skilled trades workers are expected to retire between 2019 and 2028. On this point, one CKCA member revealed that his company will have 40 percent of its workforce retiring in the next five years.

Technology also creates a challenge for all skilled labour industries. The World Economic Forum estimates that 44 percent of the skills that employees currently have will need to change by 2025. So, industries today must not only plan to recruit and train thousands, but adopt upskilling and engagement strategies that will retain talent – just in order to keep the doors open.

To address this complex issue, the CKCA advanced a policy statement on the skilled labour shortage in Canada:

The CKCA and the Wood Manufacturing Council calls for support from industry and government in: 1) communicating the benefits of working in the kitchen cabinet industry, while building educational programs that include mentorship and relevant skills training, 2) financial assistance for the retention and re-training of employees for shops investing in automation and continuous improvement, and 3) creating a support network that promotes and makes more accessible existing tools that address shared labour challenges. (CKCA policy statement can be read here.)

Watch for – Part 2: CKCA reviews proposed solutions addressing the labour shortage problem in Canada.

Century Initiative – 100 million by 2100

The Century Initiative is pushing for 100,000 million new Canadian into Canada by 2100. Just another example of how immigration and other factors are being tackled by different groups to address the growing shortage of workers into Canada. It is predicted that our GDP will drop to 1.6% if we stay on the current trajectory and do nothing, Century Initiative proposes 2.6% as a healthier goal.
Here’s some of the info the Century Initiative is tracking all more can be found in their informative report here. 
  • Trends in Canada’s population as of October 2020, Canada’s population was approximately 38 million.  Ontario has the highest proportion of the country’s population (39%), followed by Quebec (23%), British Columbia (14%), and Alberta (12%). The rest of the provinces each hold less than 5%.
  • In 2020, 27.3 million Canadians (more than 70% of Canada’s population) lived in cities, with the largest urban areas continuing to grow at a faster rate compared to other parts of Canada, despite recent slowed growth attributed to Covid-19.
  • The average age in Canada is slowly rising (41.4 years as of July 2020) and Canada’s share of seniors continues to grow (18% as of July 2020).
  • Rural and remote parts of Canada are more likely to experience advanced population aging compared to the rest of Canada and cities are more likely to have younger populations.
  • By 2036, seniors are projected to make up around a quarter of Canada’s population.
As we see programs such as the Century Initiative take shape, it’s important we are at the table to be heard! That’s why our partnership with CM&E and CFIB are important because through them we can echo your concerns and the real threat this labour shortage poses to our industry. CM&E and CFIB are working to influence government to make important policy decisions to help us address this massive shortage impacting the manufacturing and business sectors.

What values have you imprinted on your company?

What values have you imprinted on your company?

By Amrita Bhogal, Human Resources, Sunrise Kitchens


Values are unique to everyone. Your values come from many various areas of your life, with the majority of them being instilled in us as young children. The values you inherit are what influence your choices and business practices. But are your values aligned with your company’s? As business owners, it is important to revisit this topic often and ensure the decisions made within the company are aligned. Values dictate the standard of behaviours, and these behaviours can help influence change to continually grow or decline.


Many businesses state their values with only the external customer in mind.  This is a great start, however, we should not stop there. In my opinion as an HR representative, the most important values that should be established are for the internal customers (i.e. your employees). This will improve the direction you want to lead your team in, and if everyone is clear on these values, it will positively impact the most difficult change in any business – a change in culture.


Action plan:

  • Analyze and align values established for external and internal customers
  • Bridge gaps between all levels of the organization
  • Bring values into recruiting process – hire candidates that practice similar values


Catch me at the CKCA National Forum in Calgary to hear more on how we can get in front of labour shortages by focusing on values, culture and kaizen.

Behaviors Dictate Culture

The culture statement on your wall does not validate your organization’s culture, the everyday actions of your people do. Culture is complicated and a one-time brainstorm session on your culture statement does not manifest the ideal culture you want to form.


Your culture is driven by the everyday communication, actions and decisions that are taken by your people, whether it be managers or your front-line employees. Creating a culture you want for your organization is a lifetime of constant work. There are many ways you can drive the culture you want through your people.


Where to get started:

  1. It all starts with values – re-evaluating your values to ensure they will be used when communicating, decision making, and everyday actions (involve the people in the organization when establishing them)
  2. Educate the organization through value-based activities – this creates a strong connection
  3. Most importantly stop behaving against your values


As an HR professional, I have concluded you’re always working on your culture because you are constantly improving your people. People = Culture. The constant mindset of improving your people and the actions that make it happen drives your culture. A place to start creating the ideal workplace culture is through your communication as it drives the actions which results in behaviors.


Want more? Start a conversation through Social Media:

Instagram: amrita_bhogal

LinkedIn: amrita bhogal


Amrita Bhogal

Human Resources

Sunrise Kitchens Ltd