BCCA Speaking Out for Industry
The construction industry contributes 8.6% of provincial GDP and is the biggest employer in BC’s goods sector with 251,707 employees. It’s a vital industry and, due to its scale, is impacted by activities in many areas of our economy and society. Every day, in the midst of much opportunity, contractors are facing challenges to their ongoing and future success.
The BCCA serves more than 10,000 union and open shop companies through the membership of the four Regional Construction Associations, our skilled workforce programs and procurement services.
One of the most important things we do is advocate at the provincial level on behalf of the industry we serve, collaborating with the Regional Associations to support their local issues and the Canadian Construction Association on issues that impact our industry nationwide.
This presentation was given by BCCA President Chris Atchison on September 25, 2018 to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services as part of their 2019 Budget consultations.
These are the issues that matter most today:
Community Benefit Agreements
At the federal, local, and provincial levels, Community Benefit Agreements are gaining traction in government as a way to solve social issues.
Provincially, the government announced on July 16th, a new Community Benefits Agreement that is a loosely disguised Union Labour Agreement. The first projects to be delivered under the framework are the new Pattullo Bridge and the four-laning projects on the Trans-Canada Highway between Kamloops and Alberta. Read our Horgan CBA 101.
BCCA’s position on community benefit requirements is clear: we strongly oppose any procurement practice or program that seeks to confer exclusive bidding rights to companies based upon any system of quotas or legislated wages within the province. We advocate for a transparent procurement strategy in the public tendering process that allows for fair competition. Read our policies.
Read BCCA's responses to the Community Benefits Agreement and Pattullo Bridge announcements:
- Pattullo Procurement Strategy Takes BC Construction a Bridge Too Far
- Response to the Province’s Community Benefits Agreement Announcement
- BCCA does not support Premier Horgan’s new Community Benefits Agreement
Federally, Bill C-344 (An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (Community Benefits)) will go before the Senate in Fall 2018. Bill C-344 is very concerning from multiple perspectives:
- It supposes that BC’s construction employers do not already contribute in our communities;
- It assumes that we do not willingly support apprenticeship, training, and equity seeking groups;
- It presumes that contracts are so lucrative that contractors have “plenty more to give away”;
- It expects that the imposition of subjective “benefit” criteria will not have unintended negative consequences for taxpayers;
- It assumes the addition of subjective criteria to the public tendering process does not undermine its integrity or compromise the obligation
BCCA is working with our counterparts at the national and local levels to educate MPs on the risks of this approach.
A PDF version of this information can be found here.
Between October 22 and November 30, 2018, The BC Provincial Government will be conducting a referendum on Electoral Reform in order to decide what voting system BC will use for future provincial elections.
This referendum is not specific to construction but the outcome can fundamentally change Government representation across the province: it’s very important for all British Columbians to get informed and participate.
- Make Sure you're registered to vote.
Elections.bc.ca or Call 1-800-661-8683
- Understand the Options
- "First Past the Post" is the current system in which the candidate with the most votes wins. The losing party or parties win no representation at all.
- “Proportional Representation” or “Prop Rep ” is the new system being proposed, where the percent of the votes a party receives corresponds directly to the percent of the seats that they win. This may result in MLAs representing ridings that they don’t live in, and/or being appointed even if they didn’t win the most votes.
Proportional Representation is quite complex, and adding further complexity, the referendum will offer three different models to choose from.
Read an overview of the options to understand what you're voting for.
If you’re registered and your voting information is up to date, you’ll receive a referendum voting package in the mail starting late October. Look for it, fill it out, and send it in.
The outcome of the referendum has the potential to greatly influence the make-up of government and is therefore an important issue for the provincial economy and all provincial industry and business.
Lack of prompt payment is one of the most significant issues in the construction sector. When contractors don’t get paid on time, it places a financial burden on small businesses and blocks cash flow in the economy. The estimated cost in BC’s construction sector is $4BN.
Solving the prompt payment challenge in BC will release millions into the economy and improve cash flow for everyday British Columbians across our province. In particular, it will help small contractors (the backbone of our industry) to pay their staff and their bills and manage their business without taking on extra debt and financial expenses.
At BCCA, we’re working with industry stakeholders to get a legislative solution for BC on the table for the Spring 2019 legislative session. Read the letter sent to Attorney General David Eby.
As of October 2018 Attorney General David Eby has advised BCCA that his office wil undertake a consultation on Ontario’s prompt payment legislation, as we requested. The goal is to “be in a position to proceed in the same manner as the Ontario government and make amendments to the lien provisions in the Act at the same time as the prompt payment provisions are added.”
BCCA will continue to advise the Attorney General regarding the urgency of this issue and ensure a timely outcome.
We’re also working on a technology solution that will create transparency and accountability within a project’s payment ecosystem.
Tariffs on U.S. Steel and Aluminum
Trade wars are a losing proposition. We encourage a focus on more productive trade measures, such as the ratification of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnerships. The CPTPP is a new free trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Once the CPTPP enters into force, it will be one of the largest free trade agreements in the world and will provide enhanced market access to key Asian markets. The CPTPP will strongly position Canada to take market share from the US in countries such as Japan and Malaysia: as Canada’s western gateway BC will play a key role in “export diversification” to Pacific partners.
BCCA urged the federal government not to impose tariffs on construction materials. The costs of construction are already high, and have been rising for some time. Margins are low for developers and contractors, and housing is already unaffordable for many British Columbians: tariffs on steel, iron and aluminum, which are crucial materials for construction, will just make these situations worse.
BC has big energy projects underway such as Site C and the LNG Canada facility in Kitimat. Steel is important in every part of the oil and gas industry, from drilling, production, processing, to storage and transportation utilizing pipelines. Tariffs on products which are of particular relevance to the oil and gas sector will add increased risk to final investment decisions on major projects that are enormously important to BC’s economy.
As of October 1, 2018 NAFTA is replaced with the USMCA – but the tariffs on steel (25%) and aluminum (10%) remain under Section 232 national security grounds.
Update October 16 – The Canadian government rejected our industry’s call for provisional safeguard measures to be imposed on steel products. CCA Press Release.
Skilled Workforce Shortages
BCCA has been a leader in developing our provincial skilled workforce for decades. According to BuildForce Canada’s latest report, BC can expect a shortage of 14,000 skilled tradespeople over the next few years*. Competition for skilled tradespeople and labourers is fierce and wages and benefits reflect the tight supply. This translates to increased costs on most projects.
BCCA manages several programs and services to alleviate the pressure by helping employers find the high quality employees they need and support them in training and career development:
These numbers do not yet include the LNG Canada Facility in Kitimat, which will bring 10,000 jobs and targets 2,500 apprentices.
Tax Increases on Small Business
BCCA is a Member of the BUSINESS COUNCIL OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, and we work in close partnership with this council on issues that impact all industries in BC (vs those issues that are uniquely important to construction): small business taxation is one of those issues.
We are working together to create awareness of government actions that are resulting in increasing complexity, cost, and time for business. We believe the taxation changes are adding to uncertainty and eroding competitiveness in many industries through uncoordinated layering of more regulations, taxes and volume of change.
Some of the recent budget activity can be found here:
- BCBC offers mixed reviews on Budget 2018
- Avoiding a deficit should be a BC NDP coalition budget priority (BIV)
- Budget’s higher business costs dim BC investment prospects
- Pros & Cons of NDP’s Housing Plan
- New age of activist governments driving up costs of doing business(BIV)
- BC Budget 2018 - Higher Business Taxes Plus Additional Spending Measures
In support of CCA’s efforts at the Federal level, BCCA provied this letter.
We are concerned that the “Speculation Tax” introduced in the February 2018 provincial budget will create uncertainty in the market and lead to a slowdown in construction on new developments: we continue to monitor the impact closely in partnership with other industry stakeholder organizations. This concern is heightened when taken into consideration with the other measures aimed at cooling BC’s real estate market, such as the increased foreign buyers tax (from 15% to 20% of fair market value), and the expansion of the geographic areas of the tax to include the CRD, Central Okanagan, Fraser Valley, and Nanaimo Regional District.
EMPLOYER PAYROLL HEALTH TAX
The BC Government proposed the EHT in February 2018 budget, along with the elimination of the MSP premiums effective January 1 2020. BCCA is concerned that construction employers with payrolls of $500,000 annually or more are being unfairly burdened with yet another tax as a result of a transferring the cost of the health care system to their bottom line.
As the Urban Development Institute warns, “rapidly increasing taxation measures with little or no grandfathering severely damages the confidence of home builders, lenders, and equity investors.”
Public Sector Construction Procurement Practices
BCCA is focused on developing public sector procurement capacity and improving access to high quality project information through our BidCentral platform.
In the public sector, we believe that adherence to the Capital Asset Management Framework (CAMF) is essential to the fair, open, and transparent procurement process that is an obligation and responsibility of government to taxpayers.
Success rests on a contractor’s ability to access high quality project information from any region in BC, and on an owner’s ability to receive multiple compliant and professional bids from quality local contractors.
BCCA will continue to support BC’s public sector be offering the highest level of industry knowledge and expertise available. Recent advocacy efforts include:
We continue to work with the Ministry of Citizen’s Services to support their procurement innovation strategy and the re-visioning of BC Bid to ensure that the unique needs of construction are met.
Skilled Workforce development is a cornerstone of BCCA’s strategic plan. For decades, BCCA has prioritized apprenticeship and managed many programs helping employers attract, develop and retain the skilled workers they need. We facilitate access to training and other resources to ensure the workforce reflects the diversity of our population. We believe that everyone should have equal opportunity to pursue and achieve a successful and rewarding construction career.
Our provincial skilled workforce programs include:
- LNGC Trades Training Fund
- LNG Canada Connect Program
- BCCA Integrating Newcomers
- Construction Workforce Equity Project
Read our stated policies on these issues:
BCCA supports the maintenance of a safe and healthy workplace and the construction safety measures through our active involvement with COCA and WorkSafe BC. We support the establishment of any additional programs to promote excellence in construction safety, including those that regulate substance abuse of any kind.
Many jurisdictions across Canada are struggling to manage opioid addictions within their communities. BC is no exception. The construction industry can be an important influencer in this battle, because the demographic composition of our workforce - adult males – aligns with demographic profile of the majority of those suffering from opioid addiction. However, we have seen no evidence to support broad claims in the media that the construction industry has a higher incidence rate than other industries. This is an important distinction as we strive to attract new entrants to the construction sector, recognizing that decades of negative stereotypes continue to play a key role in a persistent cultural bias that discourages desirable candidates from considering our industry.
BCCA attended the first “Industry Roundtable” in August 2018 hosted by BC’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy to learn more about this epidemic and how we can play a part in the solution without unnecessarily and unfairly stigmatizing our industry.
USMCA (previously known as NAFTA)
The October 1, 2018 announcement naming the “US Mexico Canada Trade Deal” (USMCA) as the successor to Canada is welcome progress in the challenging new relationships between the US and Canada. However, we are gravely concerned that the tariffs on steel (25%) and aluminum (10%) remain under Section 232 national security grounds.
BCCA supports the agreement overall and urges all ratification, but with removal of the steel and aluminum tariffs.
BCCA supports the maintenance of a safe and healthy workplace and the construction safety measures through our active involvement with COCA and WorkSafe BC. We support the establishment of any additional programs to promote excellence in construction safety, including those that regulate substance abuse of any kind. We are actively involved in ensuring that rules and regulations around cannabis use are clear to employers and employees, and align with the Workers Compensation Act s.116 that says “every worker must ensure that the workers ability to work without risk to his or her health or safety, or to the health or safety of any other person is not impaired by alcohol, drugs or other causes.”
We advise employers to apply the same rules and policies to cannabis use as they have done for decades in regard to alcohol use: zero tolerance.
We also stress that firms have a duty to accommodate. “Duty to accommodate” is a legal requirement drawn from human rights legislation and Canadian case law which says an employer should reasonably accommodate an individual’s difference, which would include addiction, to the point where doing so does not cause undue hardship to the employer. In terms of enforcement, don’t focus on the substance as much as the ability to work safely.
Environmental Assessment Overhaul and Bill C-69
There is potential for significant impacts on construction projects if the environmental assessments change. BCCA is looking for consistency and confidence when it comes to major infrastructure projects. Clearly we don’t have that in Canada right now. The post-decision second-guessing is destructive on many levels: if every time a government changes we question another multi-million or billion dollar project, nobody wins. Therefore, we support an overhaul that results in an efficient and predictable environmental assessment process.
That said, rushing the new Federal Bill C-69 through without industry consultation is not the right approach. We hope that any changes that are made will be the result of due diligence and consultation with the sectors that will be the most impacted – including construction.
We also urge Environment Minister George Heyman to consult with the construction industry in regard to the BC review currently underway.
BCCA supports processes to ensure that the assessments are done to a high standard, so that when a decision is made to build, that decision is trusted, is final, and has the best interests for British Columbians as its priority.
We need to make sure that Environment ministers have the appropriate scope and cannot stop a project on their own opinion. Everything must be done in consultation with stakeholders, preferably long before a project is greenlit.
We also support the idea of legislated timelines to make sure these assessments are implemented with consistency and dependability in order to plan for these major construction projects.
Trans Mountain Pipeline Project
BCCA supports the Trans Mountain Pipeline Project and continues to play an active role in advocating for its continuation. We are monitoring the extremely active situation closely and provide industry support and expertise when needed to move the decision forward.
BCCA is working with the BC Chamber of Commerce and BC Business Council in their capacity as official interveners on this project.
BCCA supports the Site C project and has taken an active role over the years to ensure the project moves forward.
Use of Agricultural Land Reserves (ALR)
BCCA is concerned that recent ad hoc regulations applied by the Provincial Agricultural Land commission (ALC) that restrict cannabis crops to open field or greenhouse settings but disallow concrete floor or footings, or other conventional construction methods used in any other type of agricultural structure (such as dairy, poultry, other plants) are being discriminatorily applied and resulting in loss of jobs in the construction sector, and placing an undue burden to contractors who have already begun work.
BCCA is a founder and major funder of the Council of Construction Associations, an industry stakeholder group that leads our advocacy efforts to ensure safety standards and protections are upheld and kept up-to-date across our provincial industry.
BCCA is a major contributor to the governance of the BC Construction Safety Alliance, an industry non-profit working to develop health and safety programs to ensure the health and well-being of our industry’s workforce.