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Ottawa Announces New Carbon Tax Rebate Programs

Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna unveiled two carbon tax rebate programs for the four Canadian provinces charged with Ottawa’s carbon tax. They will get back a portion of that money in the form of rebates for small- and medium-sized businesses implementing energy-efficient projects.

Proceeds from the fuel charge imposed on Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan will unlock $1.45 billion over the next five years — though, for some, this is just not enough.

Details of the first stream of funding, the Climate Action Incentive Fund (CAIF) SME Project, were released on May 30. The funds would cover up to 25 per cent of the cost of larger, energy-efficient retrofit projects, such as building retrofits, fuel switching and renewable energy production, for example. Details on the second stream — the CAIF Rebate program — will be released in June. The program would cover between 25 and 50 per cent of eligible costs of specified energy-efficient appliances, such as heating and cooling equipment. The minister expects the rebate will be limited to a maximum amount of $20,000 per applicant.

Another $10 million in funding will be made available through the Low Carbon Economy Fund Partnerships program for small businesses taking on smaller projects, with funding levels ranging between $20,000 and $250,000.

These carbon tax rebate programs are subject to Royal Assent of the Budget Implementation Act and subsequent decisions from the Minister of Finance.

Over the next year, $150 million in rebates will be made available, based on the percentage of revenue collected within each province. Still, the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) is underwhelmed. The organization says the funding will “do little to relieve small businesses of the financial burden imposed by the carbon tax.”

More than half a million small businesses in Canada are affected by the national carbon price in the four covered provinces. CFIB has called on the federal government to axe the carbon tax — or provide businesses with “rebates equal to the amount they will pay.”

“Small- and medium-sized businesses are now in the position of having to spend even more money just to get a fraction of their carbon taxes back,” said CFIB President Dan Kelly. “This is simply too little, too late for small firms. Nothing short of a full rebate equal to the amount they will spend in carbon taxes would be satisfactory.”

FIELDBOSS stays current on industry trends to keep you informed on what’s happening in the HVACR world. Read our blog and sign up for our newsletter for all the latest news.

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Canada, U.S. Reach Deal to End Steel and Aluminum Tariffs

The nearly year-long tariff war between Canada and the U.S. is over. On May 17, Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. announced plans to end steel and aluminum tariffs.

The deal applies to the tariffs the U.S. imposed last June. Canada has long argued last summer’s tariffs were illegal. As part of the deal, the Trudeau government has agreed to end its legal challenge against the U.S at the World Trade Organization on the section 232 tariffs.

The deal also includes:

  • A monitoring system to watch out for any potential surges in the metals markets.
  • A commitment to stop the importation of aluminum and steel that is unfairly subsidized or sold at ‘dumped’ prices.
  • A promise to prevent the transshipment of aluminum and steel made outside of Canada or the United States to either country.

Tariffs may be re-imposed if the principles of the agreement are not upheld.

The tariffs have disrupted supply chains and added extra costs for consumers and businesses across a wide range of industries on both sides of the border. They were also becoming an obstacle to ratifying the new North American free trade pact. The end of the steel and aluminum tariffs increases the chances of all three parties passing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“This decision reflects what is known to be true by friends on both sides of the border: Canada has been America’s most steadfast ally for more than a hundred years, and our long-standing partnership and closely linked economies make us more competitive around the world and improve our combined security,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“With this decision, Canadian and American businesses can get back to what they do best, working constructively together to the benefit of our economies, our people, and our communities.”

Next on the agenda is the USMCA. Ottawa is set to soon introduce legislation to ratify it. Time is short, as the House of Commons and the Senate rise in late June ahead of the fall election. US VP Mike Pence was in Ottawa on May 30 to press the urgency.

FIELDBOSS stays current on industry trends to keep you informed on what’s happening in the HVACR world. Read our blog and sign up for our newsletter for all the latest news.

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NY State to Create Elevator Safety and Standards Board

Millions of people in New York rely on elevators to get safely to and from work and home. It is one of the few states that doesn’t require people working on elevators to receive any education, training, or licensing by the state. However, last week the Senate passed legislation to reduce unsafe elevator hazards and help protect New York elevator riders and the people who work on them. The bill, sponsored by Senator Diane Savino, will create the New York State Elevator Safety and Standards Board, and establish license requirements and standards for elevator contractors, mechanics, and inspectors.

The Elevator Safety Act had been introduced 5 times without any luck. This is the first time the bill has made it to the Senate floor, let alone secured approval from the legislative body. If the Assembly passes the measure, New York’s licensing requirements would fall in line with the majority of the country. In 36 states and the District of Columbia, elevator mechanics are required by law to be licensed, which typically involves the completion of an accredited program that can run as long as five years.

To obtain a mechanic’s license, under the requirements of the bill, workers must complete a union apprenticeship, or complete the National Association of Elevator Contractors’ Certified Elevator Technician program or other approved training programs.

“There’s a path to this license for anyone working in the industry, “said Michael Halpin, of the International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 1.

Within the first year of the bill becoming a law, mechanics who have worked on elevators for at least 4 years can apply for a license. The bill would also requires mechanics to participate in eight hours of continuing education every year in order to renew their licenses. The state Department of Labour and the city’s Department of Buildings will be responsible for issuing statewide and city-based licenses, respectively.

The bill also creates a nine-member Elevator Safety and Standards Board, which will oversee the implementation and enforcement of the new training requirements. Under the legislation, the DOB must maintain a list of licensed mechanics, contractors and inspectors and make it available on the agency’s website. The DOB currently doesn’t have any record of the number of mechanics operating in the city.

The measure still awaits approval from the state Assembly. The legislative session ends June 19.

Senate Bill, S.4080-B, will:

  • Require the licensing of persons engaged in the design, construction, inspection, maintenance, alteration, and repair of elevators and other automated people moving devices.
  • Create the elevator contractor license, elevator mechanics license and elevator inspector license.
  • Establish the New York State Elevator Safety and Standards Board which will consist of nine (9) members of which three (3) each are appointed by the Governor, Speaker of the Assembly and Temporary President of the Senate.

FIELDBOSS stays current on industry trends to keep you informed on what’s happening in the elevator world. Read our blog and sign up for our newsletter for all the latest news.

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Elevator Mechanic Ranks High in Canada’s Top Jobs 2019

Technicians

The crowded skyline of Toronto is about to get even more crowded. Toronto is adding 31 skyscrapers by 2024 to accommodate the city’s housing shortage. This vertical building boom also means more elevators.  Are there enough technicians to service all these elevators? According to Canadian Business, this field has been on a growth tear, with 83% more people working as elevator mechanics than there were five years ago.Canadian Business magazine has ranked Canada’s top 100 jobs for 2019 and elevator mechanic came in at number 22.

According to the most updated statistics provided by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority in Ontario, there are 55,812 elevators regulated by the TSSA and 4,634 licensed registered technicians to fix them. That’s a 12:1 ratio. According to the president of the National Elevator and Escalator Association, Kelly Leitch, that is a reasonable
number.

“We do not see a shortage. We have 400 new apprentices coming into the system anywhere from the first to fourth year of (school). We see over the last 10-year period, we’ve seen a (30%) increase in the number of apprentices coming into the system. “said Leitch.

In Ontario, training to become an elevator mechanic takes four years. There’s a 720-hour apprenticeship program which includes one night a week of school for unionized workers at Canadian Elevator Industry Educational Program (CEIEP) or at Durham College for non-unionized workers. According to Canadian Business, the median salary for elevator mechanics is $81,000.

It’s clear that working as an elevator mechanic is a promising career path in an industry that is continuing to grow. This upward trajectory signals a healthy future for anyone looking to enter the elevator business.

FIELDBOSS is a proud member of CECA, NAEC, and ECNY and a supporter of the elevator industry. Please contact us for a free demo or to learn more about our elevator contractor management software.

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Elevator Mechanics: Is Automation Coming for Your Job?

Technology has made major strides over the past few decades. Devices that were once just a plot in science fiction movies are now commonplace in the real world, introducing faster and more efficient ways to work. Technology is changing at an increasing pace, and it seems that new technologies are designed to disrupt, which in some cases means to replace human labour with machines. What does the future hold for elevator mechanics? Is automation coming for your job?

Older mechanics will remember using a giant board where all the places that needed to be serviced and inspected were written out. When the list was full, it was wiped off and started all over again. Those same technicians might have used pagers where several long beeps meant a regular job while short beeps meant that there were people stuck in an elevator and the techs needed to call the office, get the address and rush to the location.

Today, AI and automated systems are already working hand in hand to protect elevator passengers from disruptive malfunctions and relieve the stress on service technicians. Predictive maintenance is here today, in a city near you – not in a galaxy far, far away.

There are two different predictions on how advances in automation will affect job prospects for humans. Optimists see machines freeing human workers to do higher-value, more creative work. Pessimists predict massive unemployment, or a world in which humans exist to serve the robot overlords. What people need to understand is that it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Humans and automation can evolve and work together. By combining human emotion and instinct, with digital solutions, AI and virtual reality, technicians can optimize the way they prepare and run their elevator service, resulting in faster turnaround times and less downtime.

These technologies are a real revolution for elevator maintenance! While only a small percentage of the elevator technician’s tasks are replaceable by the machine, the rest remains at the heart of the mechanic’s professional expertise. Far from replacing it, these technologies will help experienced technicians identify and solve problems more efficiently, enhance their knowledge and simplify their training. Nothing can really replace human instinct, and when it comes to the intricate work, some things will always need hands-on attention.

Contact FIELDBOSS for a free demo and learn how FIELDBOSS can empower your elevator mechanics to always deliver the highest value to your customers. 

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Washington & Vermont Latest States to Regulate HFCs

US State leadership is keeping the HFC transition on track, and keeping the U.S. in sync with the global phase-down now underway under the Kigali Amendment. This past month, Washington State’s HFC phase down passed the legislature and Governor Jay Inslee signed bill HB 1112. Meanwhile, Vermont has announced that they are intending to phase down HFC refrigerants as well through their new bill ‘S. 30.’ The bill passed the legislature and is expected to have a signature from the governor soon. This adds to the ever growing list of states that have chosen to regulate HFCs.

So far all of these state planned phase downs have been modeled after the original Environmental Protection Agency’s SNAP Rule 20 and 21 from 2015. Vermont and Washington, along with twenty-three other states, are part of what’s known as the United States Climate Alliance. This alliance was formed when the Trump Administration pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord. The goal of the alliance is to create a coalition of states that work together to fight Climate Change and Global Warming. If the Federal Government isn’t going to do anything then the states will get it done and regulate HFCs themselves. The other states in the Climate Alliance are all expected to follow suit in the coming years.

The Federal Government’s positions on regulating HFCs has been confusing for the industry. The EPA’s SNAP Rule was thrown out by the courts. The Kigali Amendment went into effect at the beginning of this year but the United States never ratified the treaty. As more states join the phase down, manufacturing companies are going to be forced to move away from HFCs even without a Federal mandate. If enough states choose to regulate HFCs then manufacturers will either have to produce two different models,one for HFC states and one for non-HFC states, or the they will have to do a complete transition to lower GWP refrigerants.

The bottom line is that HFCs are going to be replaced by either natural refrigerants, hydrocarbons, or HFOs. If the U.S. government doesn’t ratify the Kigali amendment and/or the EPA doesn’t take charge of HFC’s, the U.S. may end up with a haphazard set of rules varying from state to state leading to even more refrigerant confusion.

FIELDBOSS stays current on industry trends to keep you informed on what’s happening in the HVACR world. Read our blog and sign up for our newsletter for all the latest news.

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Employee Spotlight: Azair Sheikh

The Rimrock Corporation team is made up of many hard working, talented individuals with interesting stories to tell. In our Employee Spotlight series, you’ll meet some of these people, learn what they do, and how they keep Rimrock exciting and fun.

This month we shine the light on Azair Sheikh, our Client Services and Operations Manager. Azair was born in Saudi Arabia but his background is Pakistani. He first visited Canada at the age of 5 and travelled to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

A few years later his family returned and settled in Kitchener, Ontario. Azair came to Toronto 8 years later, and has been an unsatisfied sports fan ever since (unless the Raptors win it this year!).  Prior to working at Rimrock, Azair worked at another ERP Consulting firm as well as in the accounting industry as a Financial Analyst.

In his free time, Azair likes working out, spending time with family, reading, writing, playing guitar, and gaming.

Read on to learn more about Azair.  

What do you love most about working at Rimrock & how long have you been here? I love the culture that Jonathan has created here, as well as the autonomy and trust to get a task done without micromanagement. In my career, I have always treated the company I’ve worked for as my own – which has not always played out well. Feathers can be ruffled, and toes can be stepped on. However, Rimrock has been the only firm that has fully embraced that. Jonathan has empowered me and all of the Rimrock staff to feel like owners of the business.

What is your favorite place that you have visited and where is your next dream vacation spot? I unfortunately have not traveled much for leisure – but am hoping to change that in the coming years. My favourite place that I have visited so far would have to be Muree, Pakistan. It’s a mountain resort town that is surrounded by incredible natural beauty.

My dream vacation would be having a guided expedition of the Amazon rain forest in Brazil. A close second is an all-inclusive resort anywhere in the Caribbean where I can lay around and revert back to habits I had as a five-year-old in Nova Scotia.

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be? I would want to be a stand-up comedian or a professional fighter. Less risk in the former than the latter but both require a lot of courage!

What TV shows/music/apps/Podcasts are you currently obsessed with right now? There are too many to list, but here are a few:

Podcasts: The Tim Ferris Show, The Mindvalley Podcast, Kwik Brain, Consulting Success Podcast, Managing Up, Microsoft Business Applications Podcasts

Apps: Amazon Kindle, RedFlagDeals, Tasker, Microsoft Flow, Duolingo, Headspace, Aware, SkiptheDish and Uber Eats

TV Shows: Arrested Development, Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Kings and American Gods – new season was disappointing.

If you could have a drink with anyone (fictional, alive, dead, famous, non-famous) who would it be and why? I would have a drink with Roger Bannister – first athlete/Olympian to run a sub 4-minute mile, which was considered impossible. After he broke that record, it was broken 46 days later and a sub 4-minute mile is now common among athletes. He is a fantastic example of achieving the “impossible” and how a shift in perspective can completely change your limitations. He was also a very accomplished neurologist and performed tests on Anthony Burgess – the writer of the Clockwork Orange.

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HVACR Contractors Finding Success in Indoor Grow Market

marijuana legalization

Marijuana is legal in 10 states, plus Washington, D.C., for recreational use, and 33 states for medical use. In Canada, it is legal across the country for both medicinal and recreational use. The legalization of marijuana has created a growing demand for HVACR contractors who can design quality and controlled climates suited to specific plants. Not confined to cannabis, however, indoor farming includes other applications such as hydroponics, vertical farming, and local urban agriculture. These sectors and others have created a new market for HVAC contractors — the indoor grow market.

When it comes to indoor farming, cannabis has dominated the conversation, as its legalization has led to a huge increase in the number of facilities that grow these plants. However, indoor farming encompasses more than just cannabis and includes all kinds of agricultural products, including produce and livestock.

All of these types of facilities require extensive HVAC systems to ensure the products being grown and housed have the correct amount of heating, cooling, ventilation, and humidity. By using the right equipment to strictly control the indoor climate, HVAC contractors play an important roll in helping growers improve the health of their crops and boost their yields. 

According to a recent report by the research firm MarketsandMarkets, the indoor farming technology market is projected to reach $40.25 billion by 2022, up from $25.40 billion in 2017. While some of this growth can be attributed to the increasing demand for fresh foods that can be grown year-round, much of it will likely come from the cannabis market.

That’s because the cannabis industry is booming right now. It is a big opportunity for HVAC contractors, who will be required to address the many aspects of climate and environmental control for grow and agriculture facilities. This type of specialized knowledge may require additional training, as contractors will increasingly be asked to design HVAC systems that maintain a precise indoor environment in order to maximize crop yield and reduce energy usage. Growers may even need someone on staff or at the very least, have someone on call every day, 365 days a year, to maintain the contract because if equipment fails, that can cost a company a lot of money.

Ongoing maintenance contracts will be a significant aspect of the future of marijuana and other grow facilities. Taking on these projects and maintenance contracts can be financially lucrative. The marijuana industry is unique in that customers are not going to the phonebook or Google to find contractors — it’s all word of mouth. And once a grower finds a contractor they trust to take care of them, they are likely to be quite loyal. Growers will have very high-tech equipment and they will pay a premium to maintain it. A wide variety of systems have been introduced specifically for the marijuana growing application. Trane, Carrier and Johnson Controls are just a few manufacturers offering these products.

The indoor grow market has only scratched the surface. It is an emerging market that is only going to get bigger.

FIELDBOSS stays current on industry trends to keep you informed on what’s happening in the HVAC world. Read our blog and sign up for our newsletter for all the latest news.

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Employee Spotlight: Ellen Nybida

The Rimrock Corporation team is made up of many hard working, talented individuals with interesting stories to tell. In our Employee Spotlight series, you’ll meet some of these people, learn what they do, and how they keep Rimrock exciting and fun.

This month we shine the light on Ellen Nybida, our project manager. Ellen was born in Thamesford, just outside of London, Ontario. Prior to working at Rimrock, Ellen worked as a data manager at a marketing company, and before that for a software company called Angus Systems, a property management software company.

When Ellen is not carting her son around to his karate, ninja and other sports, she enjoys working out, playing sports and spending time with friends and family.

Read on to learn more about Ellen.

What do you love most about working at Rimrock & how long have you been here?

I have been here for almost 3 months. I enjoy the ownership of my role within the company, the ability to learn while growing with the company. The team here is amazing, helpful and very welcoming.

What is your favorite place that you have visited and where is your next dream vacation spot?

I really enjoyed Hawaii where I got to visit Maui & Kona (my future retirement dreams). My dream vacation requires a lottery win where I would start in Japan, visiting my husband’s family and work my way down the coast visiting a few places I have been, and continue down through Malaysia, Bali, Australia, New Zealand and finishing in Hawaii before heading home.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see cast as you?

HA! But if that should happen…maybe Sandra Bullock?

What TV shows/music/apps/Podcasts are you currently obsessed with right now?

I don’t have much time for TV, but I enjoy either comedy or thought inducing thrillers when the opportunity to watch is available. The music I listen to in the car is usually rock/alternative rock to get me through the traffic. I change it up when I am running to something more upbeat and use classical or something with a good base tone to calm and relax.

If you could have a drink with anyone (fictional, alive, dead, famous, non-famous) who would it be and why?

My grandfather. He passed away when I was just under a year old and I want to know more about how he started his own garage (Three Bridges Automotive aka Pelton’s Garage), teaching my father his passion for that trade, his love for racing and other stories I have heard about.   

Tell us a “fun fact” about yourself or your “secret talent” that your colleagues might not already know.

I have a birthmark that looks like a chocolate chip cookie… and I can bake some pretty good chocolate chip cookies (which my colleagues now know).

Any pet peeves?

My biggest pet peeve is when someone litters. There are garbage receptacles everywhere…why litter?! 

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It’s Time to Make Skilled Work ‘Cool’ Again

Technicians

Over the last 30 years, our society convinced itself that the best path to a successful career is an expensive, four-year degree.Pop culture has hyped up the “corner office job” at the expense of the jobs that helped build the corner office. As a result, our society has devalued and discouraged any other path to success and happiness. Well-meaning parents and guidance counselors have labeled community colleges, trade schools, and apprenticeship programs as “alternative” and “vocational consolation prizes”. Students are taught that these are best suited for those not cut out for a four-year degree. The push for higher education has coincided with the removal of vocational arts from high schools nationwide. And the effects of this one-two punch have laid the foundation for a widening skills gap and massive student loan debt.

Today, the skills gap is wider than it’s ever been. The cost of college tuition has soared and student loan debt is the second highest consumer debt category in the United States. We are lending money we don’t have to kids who can’t pay it back, educating them for jobs they can no longer find, while discouraging them from pursuing good jobs that actually exist. Slowly but surely our society is reaffirming the misguided belief that a career in the skilled trades shouldn’t be desired.

How do we change this prevailing misperception of skilled labor?

We need to make skilled work cool again.

In order to close the skills gap we must challenge the stigmas and stereotypes that discourage people from pursuing the millions of available jobs. One of the biggest misperceptions of a job in the trades is lousy pay. What people don’t realize is these are good paying jobs with loads of growth potential. Some technicians can make north of six figures, and many go on to run their own businesses. But we rarely hear those stories in the press. Instead, we get studies that try to justify the cost of college.

Mike Rowe is a television host on the series “Dirty Jobs”.  Since 2008, he has been working to bring awareness of the value of work and has advocated for skilled trades. Rowe refers to one study that compared the income of college graduates with the income of non-college graduates. The study obviously concluded that college graduates made more. But the study didn’t compare skilled tradespeople to college graduates – it compared everyone to college graduates – including those with no skill. In other words, they put high school dropouts and unskilled workers into the same category as skilled tradespeople. If you dig a little deeper, and compare the income of a philosophy major, (or a history major, or a sociology major, or a math major) to that of an HVAC tech, or a plumber, or an elevator mechanic, you’ll see that the trades pay a very competitive wage – without the debt of a four-year degree.

Mike Rowe is on a mission: “To help close the skills gap by challenging the stigmas and stereotypes that discourage people from pursuing the millions of available jobs. We’re redefining the definition of a good education and a good job, because we don’t think a four-year degree is the best path for most people.” He continues, “Our crumbling infrastructure, our widening skills gap, the disappearance of vocational education, and the stratospheric rise in college tuition—these are not problems,” Mike said. “These are symptoms of what we value. And right now, we have to reconnect the average American with the value of a skilled workforce. Only then, will the next generation aspire to do the work at hand.”

When we do see young people entering the skilled trades, it is often by way of the family business. This new generation of skilled tradespeople are looking for ways to modernize the business and make it more desirable for their peers. An end-to-end field service software can help you attract and retain top, new talent (aside from your son and son-in-law). Contact us for a free demo or for more information.

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