De Novo Treatment Centre tackling addictions and suicide crisis in the trades industry

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

De Novo Treatment Centre has partnered with the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario and the Ontario Erectors Association to conduct research to identify and address the cause for higher rates of addiction and suicide in the construction industry.

As the sole addiction treatment service to the construction and building trades of Ontario, De Novo will investigate the drivers behind these statistics. The research team will be complete about 3,000 surveys with the industry’s frontline workers and industry leaders. Pollara Strategic Insights, an independent market research company was hired to conduct surveys among clients, union members, and industry leaders on De Novo’s behalf.

Anyone employed in the unionized construction and building trades industry interested in completing the 10-12-minute survey, should contact Grace Tiersma, research project coordinator at 1-800-933-6686 ext. 242 or by email.

“This type of research project will help us identify some of the main factors causing these high rates of suicide and addiction,” said Aaron Sinclair, executive director at De Novo. “From there, we hope to provide resources to address these needs, address the addiction and suicide issues, and save lives.

“Unfortunately, addiction and mental health related issues are not lacking in any sector; however, I am grateful for the opportunity to lead a research team that will help improve the quality of lives within this industry.”

The project received funding from the Ministry of Labour – Training and Skills Development Fund.

Addiction and suicide rates in the construction industry are among the highest across all sectors, with nearly one-third of all opioid-related deaths among those employed being in the construction industry. Also, statistics by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate the rate of suicide is three times the national average in the construction and building trades.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, issues are becoming increasingly prevalent with unemployment and other COVID-19 restrictions placed on the province. As a result, the need for addiction treatment and mental health supports has increased, Sinclair said.

The Ministry’s new Training and Skills Development Fund was created to address challenges as a result of the pandemic and help reduce obstacles to hiring, training, and retaining while preparing workers for the province’s economic recovery.

The De Novo research will support all levels in the industry including journeypersons, apprentices, and management personnel.

According to a news release, “research sets out to develop training tools for training centres, unions, and employers to better understand and address addiction and suicide among workers in the industry. It will also establish a report to help address these systemic issues, improve the productivity and quality of life of skilled tradespeople, and to have better outcomes for employer partners who need a healthy workforce to help grow the economy.”

The goal is to help better understand the contributing factors of addiction and suicide in the Ontario construction industry specifically and create training and workplace tools to help address this problem and ensure better outcomes for apprentices and journeypersons in the skilled trades.

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