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How unions got $85 million from the Trudeau government to help them recruit construction workers

Labour Day usually results in a host of self-congratulatory press releases from unions trumpeting their importance in ensuring Canadians do not toil away in factories reminiscent of the London of Charles Dickens.  Rather than debate whether that would be the reality without unions, most Canadians are happy to give labour its day and spend a long weekend at the cottage.

However, when overstated union claims of their importance start to impact public policy and the economy, then it is time for Canadians to take notice.

One such example lies buried in the 2016 Federal Budget, which promised $85.4 million over five years to support union-based apprenticeship training.  While investments in apprenticeship training are critical to address the looming labour shortages in the construction sector, this particular investment completely ignores current employment realities.

The issue is simple: other than Quebec, the vast majority of employment in construction is in the open shop sector, wherein union membership is not a condition of employment.  For example, in Saskatchewan 15% of the construction workforce is unionized versus 85% in the open shop sector.  In Alberta, fewer than 20% of the construction workforce is represented by a building trades union.  In New Brunswick, over 75% of the workforce is open shop.  These figures are consistent across the country, yet the Federal Government has chosen to give union training centres $85.4 million.

This move could topple Canada’s entire apprenticeship system, which has been working well for decades.  No open shop employer is going to send an employee to a union training centre since those facilities are de facto recruitment centres that include union organization in the training curriculum.  Without employers, the bulk of whom are in the open shop sector, there is nowhere for apprentices to work.  The warning signs for a potential boondoggle quickly become apparent.

This move by Ottawa also undermines the existing apprenticeship training system, which involves cooperation between employers, provincial government bodies, colleges and training institutes.  Furthermore, in provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan, apprentice training is 80% on the job and 20% in the classroom, which makes sense since workers learn more on a job site.  To put that another way, on your next flight do you want a pilot who has learned to fly in a cockpit or one who watched videos about it in a classroom?

Why then would the Federal Government seek to undermine this system by a) putting apprentices back in the classroom in union training centres and b) effectively shutting out 75-80% of the skilled trade work force in the non-union sector from apprenticeship training?

The answer has nothing to do with meeting the needs of Canada’s construction industry, which will have to attract at least 320,000 workers or face serious shortages in the labour supply in the next decade.  As usual, it is instead strictly a matter of politics and unions trying to reverse their decades’ long decline in union membership.

In part to mitigate their loss in worker market share, building trade unions have built lavish training centres and now seek to operate them with public funds, while indenturing apprentices to their organizations.

However, that cannot hide the fact that the introduction of union-based training would benefit only a very small percentage of both employees and employers.  Using so much public money to support such a small portion of the industry is not fiscally prudent or responsible.  It speaks more to ideology and political favours than any serious consideration of labour force needs and the economy as a whole.

Worker training should not be used as an excuse to create slush funds for union recruitment.  The reality in Canada’s construction sector is that upwards of 80% of the workforce is not unionized.  Union lobbying for funds for their training centres should be seen for what it really is: an attempt to change that reality.  Under their logic, put money into the union training centres and unions gain a stranglehold over the apprenticeship system, which in turn boosts their membership numbers.

Spending millions of taxpayer dollars to aid union recruitment efforts is not sound labour market development policy.  If the concern is really to ensure the Canadian economy meets its looming skilled labour needs, then policy decisions should reflect market realities, not political agendas.  Even on Labour Day.

Additional grants available for your Registered Educations Savings Plan (RESP)

Keeping up with all the changes to Registered Education Savings Plans (RESP) since 1997 is a difficult task to say the least. You are now able to contribute up to $50,000 per child and the Federal Government will contribute up to $7,200.

Many additional educational programs qualify in addition to traditional University and College degrees. In order to maximize the value of the RESP, comprehensive planning is required.

One benefit available to residents of B.C. is the Training and Education Savings Grant (BCTESG). Unlike the Federal Government Grant, this is not based on how much you contribute. However, you do need to apply for this. In order to qualify, the following criteria must be met:

  • Child born in 2006 or later

  • You and the child are residents of B.C.

  • The child is a beneficiary of an RESP with a participating institution

For children born between 2006 and 2009, the BCTESG is now available. Depending on the year of birth, the last day to apply may be as soon as August 14, 2018. Start the process early to ensure you are dealing with a qualified institution that is able to access this grant for you.

Article Courtesy

Creed Capital Management

We need to get to Yes on projects like the Trans Mountain expansion

Is there public support for major projects in BC like the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion?

Through a recent poll, we determined that there is exceptionally strong support for responsible resource development. Support for these projects crosses political boundaries, and that opponents, while vocal, represent a very small minority in British Columbia.

The poll found 84 per cent of residents support responsible resource development. British Columbians understand that a resource-based economy creates jobs not only in construction but in almost every other sector of the economy. The high paying jobs created by the pipeline lead to more spending at hotels and restaurants, at auto dealers, on after-school activities and recreation.

Read more

Enduring Power of Attorney

There are some common misconceptions among people in Canada about the need for an EPA that can lead to inefficiencies when they are least needed.

Everything is joint with my spouse:

While you are able to make many financial accounts jointly held, there are certain assets such as RSP’s and Tax Free Savings Accounts that are not able to be jointly held.  Without an EPA, your spouse may not be able to access these assets should you need them.   Along these lines, your principle residence is likely jointly held.  To be able to access the value of your home through sale or to borrow against the equity in your home, both signatures are likely required.

We already have an ordinary Power of Attorney in place:

As of September 2011, an ordinary Power of Attorney is no longer valid if the person who granted the Power of Attorney becomes incapacitated.   If there is no EPA in place, the court does have the power to appoint people to manage your affairs, but this can be very time consuming, costly and contentious at a time when legal and financial issues should be secondary to health concerns for all involved.  If you have a Power of Attorney that is more than five years old, it would be recommended to review the changes by the BC Provincial Government.

There is a very useful link on the Province of British Colombia website ( under “Incapacity Planning” which outlines considerations you will want to make when looking at your entire Estate Planning scenario.  While this is a topic that is very difficult to discuss, it may be the most important piece of your Estate Plan that will protect you and those around you if they are forced to deal with incapacity.

Article courtesy:

Creed Capital Management

Upcoming Trans Mountain Ministerial Panels


The public is welcome at all sessions. Formal registration is not required. Send an email to indicating your preferred time and location to assist with their planning.

Schedules and venues will be updated on the Major Projects Management Office website here. All times below are local.

August 9: Burnaby BC, Hilton Vancouver Metrotown, Crystal Ballroom
1000-1200: Environmental NGO roundtable
1300-1430: Local government roundtable #1
1500-1630: Local government roundtable #2

August 10: Burnaby BC, Hilton Vancouver Metrotown, Crystal Ballroom
0930-1030: Education roundtable
1100-1200: NGO roundtable
1330-1700: Public town hall

August 11: Burnaby BC, Hilton Vancouver Metrotown, Crystal Ballroom
1330-1500: Economic round-table
1630-2000: Public town hall

August 16: Vancouver BCV
Socio-economic NGO roundtable
Transportation roundtable
Economic roundtable
Local government roundtable

August 17: Vancouver BC
NGO roundtable
Public town hall

August 18: Vancouver BC
First Nations roundtable
Environmental NGO roundtable

August 19: North Vancouver BC, North Vancouver District Hall
1030-1200: Local government roundtable
1430-1900: Public town hall

August 22: Victoria BC
Local government roundtable
First Nations roundtable

August 23: Victoria BC
NGO roundtable
public town hall

2016 Award for Construction Workplace Health and Safety Innovation now open

ICBA and WorkSafeBC are pleased to announce that the 2016 Award for Construction Workplace Health and Safety Innovation is now open for entries from ICBA members and their employees. 

The Workplace Health and Safety Innovation Award is presented annually to acknowledge individuals and companies for their efforts in the prevention of workplace incidents, injuries and illnesses. By honouring safety leaders and sharing their ideas ICBA and WorkSafe BC hope to encourage new programs, policies, and projects that improve the health and safety of workers. The award recognizes the employee or team of employees who come up with an innovative program, policy, tool or project that demonstrates a proven accomplishment in the area of health and safety for the construction industry sector. There is a $5,000 prize for the best submission and will be presented at the ICBA AGM on Monday, October 3 at the Executive Hotel & Conference Centre Burnaby. Eligibility All employees of ICBA member companies are eligible for the Annual Awards for Innovation in Workplace Health and Safety for Construction.

Please click here for an application form. Or click here for the submission guidelines and information.


Debunking the Myths: Project Review Processes and the Environment

Once again, the review process for major projects has come under scrutiny as the vocal minority ramps up last-ditch efforts to halt projects like Pacific NorthWest LNG and Trans Mountain expansion. These project reviews exist to ensure that only responsible resource development projects are recommended for approval, and that the project meet the goals of the environment, economy, and social sustainability.

Throughout July, we will debunk the top 4 myths plaguing the project review process.

MYTH 1: Reviews do not adequately study impact to wildlife and the ecosystem

The suggestion that project reviews do not sufficiently study the environmental impact of a project devalues the expertise of scientists and engineers who spend thousands of hours documenting and researching the water, air and land around a project. These experts study the local ecosystems and wildlife, documenting and reporting on their findings, and present their research to the Environmental Assessment Office. Read more

Project review processes: Worthy of our trust and confidence

In the debate over energy infrastructure and other major projects, one common question recently has been whether proposals are being rigorously enough reviewed. The public clearly has some doubts about how much confidence it can place in these reviews.

So in this issue of the Monitor we take a close look at what major project review processes actually consist of. What we find is that they are in fact rigorous, science-based, highly responsive to public and Aboriginal input, and much  more comprehensive than many people have been led to believe. The environmental considerations alone that get assessed are vast in scope – everything from local frog habitat to global greenhouse gas implications. And all that work is supplemented with equally demanding assessments of economic, community, and social impacts.

Throughout these processes, the scope of stakeholder outreach and consultation is vast. Every single query and concern requires a response, and timelines frequently get paused when significant new issues or revisions are put on the table. Approvals are commonly granted only after years of ongoing review. And they are invariably based on conditions, sometimes over 100, designed to ensure that identified impacts are moderated. Strong enforcement mechanisms ensure all those conditions get acted on. Read more

Join us at the Financial Leadership Forum, June 15

While many in the construction industry rely on existing forums to discuss best practices and to resolve common issues of concern, those in financial leadership positions within our industry do not have such opportunities.

ICBA and CPA BC are filling this void by creating a regular forum for those with financial leadership roles.

At this inaugural dinner event we will host:

  • Peter Guo, BC Leader of Enterprise Risk Services with MNP
  • Scott MacDonald from the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skill Development
  • David Chiang, VP of Member Services with CPA BC

Date: Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Time: 5:30pm – 6:00pm Registration and Networking
6:00pm – 8:30pm Dinner and Presentations

Location: Delta Burnaby Hotel & Conference Centre, 4331 Dominion Street, Burnaby, BC V5G 1C7 (Complimentary Parking in South Parking Lot)

To register and for more information, please click here

3 Common Mistakes Canadians make with their TFSA’s

In 2009, the TFSA was created to encourage Canadians to save money where it could grow tax free and be free from taxes when withdrawn.  Let me get this straight, I can invest money that can grow over time, take it out whenever I want and pay no tax?  It seems too good to be true?  While yes, there are limits to the account, but when used properly it is by far the best investment vehicle in Canada.  For many Canadians however, it is still one of the most misunderstood investment tools.

Let’s look at some of the most common mistakes made with these accounts.

  1. Canadians don’t use them.  Despite the benefits, only 38% of eligible Canadians have a TFSA.  In 2009, the contribution limit was $5,000 for any person over the age of 18 living in Canada.  The initial criticism was that this limit was too low to bother.  Fast forward to today, most people could have contributed up to $46,500.  For a couple, that is a total of $93,000 in tax free investment room.

  2. Canadians treat them as a “Savings” bank account.  For investors looking for a guaranteed return, interest earned in a TFSA on “High Interest Savings” or GIC investments is tax free.  But the TFSA can be so much more than just a savings account.  As an example, investors can hold Stocks, Bonds, ETFs and Mutual Funds to create a diversified portfolio suitable for their own risk tolerance and savings strategy.

  3. Canadians haven’t factored the benefits of a TFSA along with their pension/retirement savings.   Any money withdrawn from a TFSA is not taxable.  Therefore, these funds are never considered as a source of income.  Since many Government Benefits that you receive in retirement are income tested, this is potentially a huge savings advantage.

Now, the good news.  All is not lost for Canadians and their TFSAs.  That $46,500 in contributions that could have been made already, can still be made.  Just like an RSP, contribution room accumulates over time.  By this time next year the limit will be up to $52,000 per person.  For investors locked into GICs, a long term and diversified investment portfolio can be started with any new contributions.  Finally, a TFSA retirement income strategy can be made a part of every financial or estate plan.  Amazingly, if you can commit to maxing out your TFSA contributions now and continue to do so for future years, 20 years from now your account could be upwards of $400,000!

Article courtesy

Creed Capital Management

1 Source: The Huffington Post May, 2015

2 Based on an annualized rate of return of 7% and maximum ongoing annual contributions of $5,500

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