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Union-Only Construction Unfair, Bad Value and a Proven Failure

As it prepares to spend billions on public infrastructure, we are deeply troubled by the NDP government’s determination to force construction workers to join unions, to reward its political allies with public funds, and to deliver less value and higher costs to taxpayers.

All this will result from what the NDP is re-branding as ‘Community Benefit Agreements’, historically known as Project Labour Agreements.

PLAs bind contractors who win public bids to union agreements they never negotiated. They require union memberships for non-union workers, antiquated union-hall hiring, and they deliver windfalls to the favoured unions involved.

PLAs inevitably and dramatically drive up complexity and costs, and override the free choice of 85% of B.C. construction workers who abandoned the traditional building trade unions long ago. And for what? Labour peace that we already have? Employment equity and training opportunities that we know can be more effectively delivered in other ways?

While John Horgan calls it a success story, people who have actually worked under PLAs will tell you they are a miser-able failure and a massive infringement of workers’ rights. Union exclusivity in the B.C. construction industry went extinct decades ago. Today, we respect the choices workers make about workplace representation, and we expect fairness in public procurement and good value for taxpayer money.

Denying opportunity and picking favourites is no way to build a province. The fundamentally unfair and inefficient PLA approach Horgan’s been promoting needs to remain firmly in the past.

The Problem with the NDP’s Project Labour Agreements


We’ve Been Down This Road Before

The Island Highway Project under the last NDP government is a prime example of a Project Labour Agreement in action. Today’s NDP is counting on short memories when it claims the project was a success. Already an out-of-date model in the 1990s, there is no economic or social justification for PLAs in B.C. today. Read more

Canadian Steel Tariffs Hurt Construction… and all Canadians

By Chris Gardner, President, Independent Contractors and Businesses Association.
This piece first appeared in the Sunday Province on July 15, 2018, and is available for all media outlets to publish, free-of-charge.


Last Halloween, Justin Trudeau launched a thousand photo ops by wearing a Superman costume into the House of Commons. Now it’s time for the Prime Minister to show Canadians what kind of Man of Steel he wants to be.

Canada is in the early stages of a potential all-out trade war with the United States, brought about by the general anti-free trade leaning of the Trump administration and specifically by the new tariffs imposed by Washington on American imports of Canadian steel and aluminum.

In response, Canada levied $16.2 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods entering Canada. The tariffs were strategically chosen to apply to items produced in targeted U.S. congressional districts so that American communities that depend on Canadian markets feel pain. By doing so, Canadian officials hope to apply enough pressure on congressional representatives that the Trump administration reconsiders their ill-advised tariff measures. So far so good.

However, included with Canada’s retaliatory measures is a 25% duty on imported steel products, which will impact B.C., whose sole source of Canadian steel is a relatively small mill in Edmonton that supplies just one-tenth of what B.C. needs. Local demand for steel cannot be met by steel mills in central Canada – the reality we face in B.C. is that nearly all our steel comes from the U.S., Turkey and Asia.

Since the North American Free Trade Agreement came into effect more than 25 years ago, the continent’s economy has evolved into a complex, intertwined series of supply chains that help reduce costs by increasing efficiencies and by building mutual competitive advantages. The benefits have been substantial, mutual, and in the best interests of both countries. Read more

TRAINING THURSDAY: Emotional Intelligence (EQ) – The Myths and the Mastery

Have you ever wondered how emotionally intelligent you are, or what your Emotional Quotient (EQ) is? Let our training department help you answer these questions with our half-day workshop on July 24 in Burnaby called Emotional Intelligence (EQ) – The Myths and the Mastery!

This workshop is designed for all employees and has proven to be an exceptionally powerful and practical learning experience that will benefit participants in their professional and personal lives. You’ll learn how to build better relationships, learn to stay calm and deal with stress more effectively, deal with difficult people and negative energy, and achieve greater happiness.

Here’s what’s covered:

  • What EQ really means in practical, everyday, real world terms
  • Why EQ is a far more important success factor than IQ 
  • The EQ – Happiness Connection
  • How to identity your current level of EQ
  • The predictable attitudes and behaviors of low EQ people 
  • Four sure-fire strategies on how to develop truly healthy EQ
  • How to deal with unreasonable people with low EQ 
  • How to achieve the delicate balance of intellect and emotion and make “common sense decisions 
  • How EQ impacts your ability to build and sustain productive relationships
  • How to assert yourself to ensure you get your needs met without appearing like a bully
  • How to stay positive around negative people

You can register for this workshop or any of our other courses at! And while you’re there, don’t forget to subscribe to our training newsletter at We look forward to seeing you at some of our upcoming courses!

Saying Farewell to ICBA Icon Ed Rempel

Ed Rempel

Yesterday, hundreds of friends, family, and employees of Ed Rempel gathered in Abbotsford to say goodbye to the gentle, generous man who helped found Rempel Bros. Concrete, Lower Mainland Steel, Greenbank Sand and Gravel, Lower Mainland Concrete Products and ICBA.

As Bill Kerkhoff mentioned in his tribute, Ed was a life member of ICBA, one of our founders, and one of our first presidents. Importantly, he and his brother Ewald made sure open shop contractors had the concrete they needed to build their projects in the tumultuous 1970s and 1980s, helping make the construction industry a fair, even playing field for all companies.

Thank you for everything, Ed. We will never forget you.

And our love to Myrtle-Ann, his wife of 60 years who holds a dear spot in our hearts.

For more on Ed’s contributions to ICBA, see…/…/11/remembering-ed-rempel/

Ed’s family put together this lovely video tribute:

TRAINING THURSDAY: Navigating Human Rights Law (Breakfast Session)

What are you doing for breakfast on July 18? Our training department invites you to our next Burnaby breakfast session on Navigating Human Rights Law. 

Do you have an employee requesting human rights accommodation, such as a parent requesting childcare accommodation or an employee requesting accommodation for a physical or mental disability? Which ones should you grant?

What about an employee claiming discrimination on the basis of a protected ground under the Code (age, sex, race, disability, family status, religion, etc.)? Have they filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal? How do you respond to such a complaint? Our breakfast session is here to help you answer these important questions. We know that navigating human rights in the workplace can be complicated, and we want to help you prepare.

Here’s what’s covered:

  • Human rights protections in BC
  • An employer’s legal obligations
  • When to accommodate
  • When and how to investigate a human rights complaint
  • How to respond to a human rights complaint filed with the Tribunal

You don’t have to be a member to attend any of our courses, but you will save on your course fees! Register now at

IN THE NEWS: ICBA Files Lawsuit Against NDP’s Prop Rep Process

Last week, ICBA filed a suit against the NDP Government’s flawed, rigged proportional representation referendum process. The news media has taken notice:

  • Vancouver Sun columnist Ian Mulgrew recapped our arguments
  • FSJ’s Energetic City posted our full filing
  • Black Press
  • Canadian Press
  • News 1130
  • Business in Vancouver looks at why ICBA filed:“We think that a strong stable government, a majority government – whether it’s from the left or the right – is fundamentally important to our economic prosperity, our long-term economic growth,” Gardner said. “All of the big projects and initiatives that have defined British Columbia have been the result of a government which has a majority putting a vision in front of British Columbians and pursuing those goals. When you go to proportional representation, you’re going to have fringe parties from the left and right, you’re going to have ballot with 25, 30 parties on it, it will be confusing, there will be a lot of backroom dealing, there will be more instability. And instability is not good for our economy.”