New certification program means safer buildings.



    OTTAWA, Nov. 14 /CNW Telbec/ - Buildings in Canada will become safer than
ever for Canadians and their families as a new professional certification
program for Building Officials gets underway.
    For the first time, Building Officials -the people who review all plans
and inspect homes, apartments, hospitals, office towers, shopping malls, and
many other types of buildings to make sure they comply with current building
codes -- will be certified to a National Standard as qualified professionals.
    "The result is safe, code-compliant buildings right across the country,"
says Mannie Withrow, who will award the first 14 certifications at a special
event today at the Sheraton Hotel in Ottawa. Mr. Withrow is President of the
Alliance of Canadian Building Officials' Associations (ACBOA)".
    "It is high time these professionals who are knowledgeable and
well-trained get the credit and recognition they deserve," adds Mr. Withrow,
noting that Building Officials, who work behind the scenes to provide a level
of comfort and safety for all Canadians, often did not get the respect they
deserve because of the lack of national standards for this profession. "When
we do our job right, nothing happens and Canadians get to enjoy the use and
occupancy of all buildings across this great country."
    Over the past couple of years, the Construction Sector Council (CSC) has
partnered with ACBOA, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), and
other industry stakeholders to develop national occupational standards and a
certification process that measures Building Officials' qualifications against
an approved standard.
    The CSC's Executive Director, George Gritziotis, says "Another important
result is that the new national program means Building Officials' credentials
will be recognized in all jurisdictions allowing them to work in any
province."
    "The initiative addresses the challenge of an aging workforce and the
inadequate supply of skilled labour," he says. "It will provide greater worker
mobility, a wider variety of job opportunities and maintain the high level of
professionalism required of this important occupation in the construction
industry."
    Established in 2001, the Construction Sector Council (CSC) is a
not-for-profit national labour management organization mandated to address the
human resource issues facing the construction industry in Canada. The CSC is
supported by the Government of Canada's Sector Council Program.



    BACKGROUNDER

    A National Certification Program for Building Officials

    What do Building Officials do?

    There are about 7,000 Building Officials in Canada.
    Building Officials review plans and inspect the construction of homes,
apartments, hospitals, office towers, and many other types of buildings to
make sure they comply with building codes. Their goal is to ensure that
structural safety, accessibility, fire safety, health, and a range of other
issues are addressed prior to occupancy.

    Why is a certification program necessary?

    When it comes to certification and licensing requirements for
professional Building Officials, each province and territory has had different
standards and expectations. Up until recently, there was no consistent
national standard for performance, and an uneven quality of service that would
sometimes lead to a lack of credibility in the inspection industry.

    What are the benefits of a certification program?

    A National Certification Program will lead to safer buildings, more
recognition and a better public image for professional Building Officials. As
well, their skills will be recognized anywhere in Canada allowing them to work
in different provinces or jurisdictions. The program will also reduce exposure
to legal action endured by municipal governments and others when projects are
delayed or not up to code.

    How did it come about?

    The federal government became involved in the late 1990s by bringing
together all interested stakeholders to align the certification, licensing and
performance standards for Building Officials and for Home and Property
Inspectors across Canada. Soon, national occupational standards were
developed, outlining the required skills, knowledge and abilities that
Building Officials needed to perform their duties.
    Based on those performance standards, the Construction Sector Council,
the Alliance of Canadian Building Officials Association and the Canada
Mortgage and Housing Corporation set up a process for Building Officials to
become certified by accredited educational institutions as qualified
professionals.

    What is the process?

    The certification program judges the Building Official's performance
against an approved standard that ensures consistent, safe and high-quality
inspection services.
    In general, Building Officials must prove that they are familiar with
current and past provincial and national building codes and standards, federal
and provincial legislation and municipal bylaws pertaining to health, fire and
life safety as they relate to construction. They must have a solid
understanding of all aspects of the construction industry, including
construction methods, procedures, practices and materials. These and other
qualifications are learned and tested through a vigorous program of study, and
on-the-job training requirements.
    There are three stages to the National Certification Program for Building
Officials: Candidate, Associate and Certified. Specific skill sets, education
and training are necessary at each stage.
    On November 14, 2007, the Minister of Human Resources and Social
Development will attend the launch of a new national certification and
accreditation system in Ottawa where the first 14 Building Officials from
across Canada will receive their certification. Representatives from the many
parties involved in creating this new certification system including, the
Construction Sector Council, the Alliance of Canadian Building Officials, and
the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, will be present.




For further information:

For further information: Mannie Withrow, President, Alliance of Canadian
Building Officials' Associations, (902) 897-3170, mwithrow@colchester.ca;
Rosemary Sparks, Senior Director of Planning and Development, Construction
Sector Council, (613) 569-5552, sparks@csc-ca.org

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