Just Working Construction: Building Affordable and Sustainable Homes with the Mission of Empowering Newcomers in Canada!

This story is created and shared in collaboration with the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre, a valuable resource for entrepreneurs looking to start or grow their businesses in the Waterloo Region. Their expertise and support have been instrumental in providing insights and information for this post, highlighting the Centre’s commitment to fostering the entrepreneurial spirit in the community.

Just Working Construction Inc. is a construction company located in New Hamburg, Ontario, that serves the Waterloo Region. The company prioritizes social responsibility in its work and strives to make a positive impact in the local community. By hiring newcomers to Canada and providing them with a secure work environment, Just Working Construction enables these individuals to gain valuable training and experience in the trades. The company also specializes in constructing cost-effective and energy-efficient housing options for both commercial and residential purposes, including tiny homes, laneway housing, inter-generational housing, and co-housing. 

Since 2015, Just Working Construction has been creating numerous job opportunities for refugees and newcomers in Canada who have experience in construction but struggled to find employment in Canada despite the country’s persistent shortage of skilled tradespeople. For SDG 3 (Good Health  & Well-Being), Jeff Van Gyssel, the owner of Just Working Construction, prioritizes a safe working environment and encourages a healthy work-life balance for his employees. Recently, Just Working Construction was recognized by Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s (WSIB) Elizabeth Witmer Health and Safety Leadership Award for 2022 for making safety inclusive for all. To support Just Working Construction’s diverse workforce, the company has made its health and safety initiatives available in multiple languages, ensuring that the many newcomers it employs can easily access and understand them. In addition to SDG 3 (Good Health & Well-Being), Just Working Construction aligns with SDGs 7 (Affordable & Clean Energy), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 13 (Climate Action), and hopes to advance these goals through their work.

For SDGs 7 and 13, Just Working Construction focuses on the use of innovative and environmentally friendly building methods, such as Passive Housing and Net Zero Housing, which have proven to be both cost-effective and sustainable. Passive building reduces a home’s carbon emissions thereby leading to low-energy buildings that require less energy for heating or cooling compared to traditional buildings and consume up to 90% less energy than their conventional counterparts. Net-Zero homes are designed to produce as much energy as it consumes on an annual basis, resulting in net-zero energy consumption. This balance between energy consumption and generation is achieved through the use of renewable energy systems, such as solar panels. Hence, these homes are 80% more energy-efficient than traditional homes and rely on renewable energy sources, such as solar energy, rather than non-renewable sources like oil and gas. 

Building Partnerships 

Just Working Construction recognizes the challenges faced by newcomers in a new culture and the importance of community support. The company aims to create intentional communities where people could live together and help each other. It partners with local charities to build affordable housing and restore old heritage buildings to reduce their carbon footprints.

Just Working Construction recognizes that pursuing its social and environmental objectives involves tackling challenges that come with working in diverse cultures. Despite these obstacles, they maintain their optimism towards the future and aim to build more inclusive societies. 

Jeff Van Gyssel, owner of Just Working Construction, meeting with Justin Trudeau. Photo from Jeff Van Gyssel.

For more information, please check out JustWorking’s website at https://justworking.ca/