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The past year and a half has been extremely challenging for everyone all over the world. We could not have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating impacts of the virus on our lives.

COVID-19 has changed almost everything. Our home lives, our work lives, our relationships with others, our access to the various supports that we perhaps took for granted prior to March 2020. Simple things like shopping for groceries and other necessities, visiting doctors, or simply getting together with family and friends became a challenge.

Imagine now on top of all of that, you or someone you know was battling with substance use or mental health issues, and suddenly the avenues for support once available have all but disappeared.

Make no mistake, these are very real and devastating health conditions and the people inflicted with them are virtually powerless to address them without professional and dedicated help.

Substance use and mental health is a very real pandemic in our society. The construction industry, with incidents and injuries as high as they are being one significant contributor, has the unfortunate distinction of having a disproportionately high number of individuals misusing alcohol and other drugs (AOD). We are also learning about the alarmingly high rate of individuals with mental health conditions and the impacts that these conditions are having on their lives.

We need evidence-based research, solutions, and greater resources targeting this pandemic. The need is so great that the construction industry associations and unions in B.C. and nationally have chosen to collaborate to do what we can to address the issues.

The CLR is proud of our long-standing association as a co-founder along with the BC Building Trade Unions, of the Construction Industry Rehabilitation Plan (CIRP). Since the 1980’s, CIRP has grown and now has as its mandate to offer the highest quality of mental health and addiction-related services for those employed in the unionized construction sector in B.C., and their families. Faced with ever-increasing demands on its services and recognizing the unprecedented needs of those within and outside of its target group, CIRP is working closely with the whole of the construction sector to share its knowledge and expertise.

If ever there was a need for our industry to combine our efforts and work together on an issue, surely this is it. Lives are at stake and the CLR has committed to being an active partner in any efforts to support our colleagues and peers in the industry.

Going forward, articles that raise awareness of mental health and substance use will be a regular contribution to this newsletter as we seek to educate, guide and inform our members. It was also the theme for our annual general meeting this year where we brought in experts in the field to speak to attendees and share their knowledge.

I encourage you all to take a keen interest in the information we provide. It quite literally could save the life of someone dear to you.

Ken McCormack, President and CEO