BCCA responds to throne speech
Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - The BC Construction Association is encouraged that yesterday’s Speech from the Throne means good things ahead for all of BC’s tradespeople.
“There are more than 225,000 workers and 23,000 businesses at the core of the construction sector in BC,” observes BCCA President Chris Atchison. “Given the unprecedented number and scale of major projects underway and planned, it’s an all-hands-on-deck moment. Premier Horgan knows that, and we’re hopeful that the throne speech reflects a firm commitment to fair and equal opportunity for all employers and the skilled tradespeople they require.”
BCCA represents both union and open shop contractors from the industrial, commercial, and institutional construction sector. Its services include BidCentral, the Skilled Trades Employment Program and The LNG Canada Trades Training Fund, which are available to the entire sector and play a key role in supporting access to project opportunities and apprenticeship training for equity-seeking groups.
About 17% of BC’s construction workforce is unionized, the equivalent of just 40,000 workers. As well, large companies with workforces above 100 employees are far more likely to be unionized than the smaller contractors that employ the remaining 80% of the sector.
The Throne Speech states that government will move to a new contract award system to “give small, BC-based businesses a fair shot at government contracts”. By definition, these small employers represent the open-shop majority of the workforce.
“There are some concerns that government will introduce subjective criteria to the procurement process that favor some employers over others,” cautions Atchison. “But the math doesn’t add up with that approach. Already we’re experiencing skills shortages and can’t afford to leave out any part of the eligible workforce. The Throne Speech indicates that a fair, open and transparent process will make project opportunities equally available to everyone.”
BC is facing a skilled worker shortage in construction of about 15,000 workers over the next 10 years, with over 57,000 skilled tradespeople set to retire. Already, the competitive and active construction market is putting pressure on project timelines and budgets.
“Employers today provide great wages and benefits, adhere to the highest safety standards, and support training regardless of labour affiliation” says Atchison. “It’s essential in order to be competitive – this isn’t the construction sector of 30 years ago, and today’s tradespeople are well aware of their value.”
The province has proclaimed April to be “Construction and Skilled Trades Month” in BC.
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