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FACT CHECK: When it comes to training numbers, unions love their fudge

The BC building trades unions aren’t exactly known for their efficiency or effectiveness, which is just another reason why they are losing market share (and having to rely on unfair monopolies being handed to them by their friends in the John Horgan NDP government).

In their annual report on training, they had some numbers that should make even the most ardent trade unionist pause.

The first number we’d like to point out is this:

That sounds great, doesn’t it? Of course, we know the truth – only 18% of all trades apprentices in BC are affiliated with any union, according to the BC Government’s numbers. Check out this graph:

Indeed, according to the government’s official statistics, only 5,260 apprentices are sponsored by any union.

The building trades fudge their annual report number by including “trainees.” We don’t blame them – their numbers are so pitiful they need to spin them somehow.

(We would humbly point out that ICBA directly sponsors more than 1,200 apprentices and directly trains 4,000 people a year—and that doesn’t include the thousands and thousands of apprentices and others trained by our member companies.)

To train those 7,387 folks, the building trades claim this:

That 52 trainees per union staffer. Or an average of one trainee per paid staffer per week. Not much of a workload!

And guess what – that translates into unbelievable cost:

That’s $2,900+ in union dues being spent on each trainee. Or, if you prefer, $151,937 on every single one of those 141 “full time and part time staff” the unions brag about.

This is wildly inefficient and expensive. Union members should be asking their locals why it’s so bloody expensive to employ these trainers and to train these people.

Fun fact about ICBA: we have 5 full time staff dedicated to our 1,200+ apprentices, 4,000+ trainees, and helping our 2,000 member and client companies train their folks. And it’s not costing $150K+ per staffer to do this work. (We also contract instructors – experts in their fields – to do the hands-on training work.)

No one should ever cheap out on training or apprenticing. But the building trades seem a lot more concerned about sucking every dollar possible from their workers than they do in providing them with good value.


Does your office use Bluebeam Revu? This award-winning software is used by some of the largest construction companies in the world and our training department wants to teach you how to use it! We have two courses coming up in Langley that will help you learn how to better use this software.

We’re starting with Field Quality and Deficiency Management with Bluebeam Revu on September 26. This course will provide you and your staff with the knowledge and skills to get the quality of work on your projects under control, and how to develop an effective tracking system that is easy to manage. You’ll also earn 7.5 CPD Points from BC Housing!

On September 27, we’re offering Document Control with Bluebeam Revu, which will teach you document control practices using the software. You will learn how to take plain PDF construction documents and create smart PDFs that can give project teams accurate and up to date information at all times. This course will give you 1 Gold Seal Credit and 7 CPD Points from BC Housing.

We also have Bluebeam Basics on September 24, and Estimating with Bluebeam Revu on September 25!

Register for these or any of our other upcoming sessions at

CONSTRUCTION MONITOR: Open Shop Dominant in Trades Training

The Fall 2019 edition of ICBA’s Construction Monitor is out, and it looks at the role of open shop companies in training apprentices. 

It’s their last seemingly plausible claim to fame and relevance: the notion that the B.C. Building Trades unions play a uniquely important role in training construction workers.

Their only problem: it’s a complete myth.

At ICBA, we’ve always known the open shop is leading the way in apprenticeships, and now we’ve proven it. Data obtained from the Industry Training Authority shows an even smaller role in apprenticeship training for the old-school unions than most might have guessed.

In B.C. today, non-union construction companies – like the ones who make up ICBA – sponsor four times as many apprentices as unions. Open shop accounts for 23,172 – or 81.5 per cent – of the 28,432 British Columbians currently pursuing construction trades certification. The unions’ share is only 15 per cent.

Apprenticeship training is fundamentally important to the long-term health of our industry and to our provincial economy. And ICBA members and other open shop contractors are the ones taking on the largest share of this crucial responsibility.

The Building Trades often forget that learning a skill and mastering a craft happens on the job working side-by-side with colleagues who have experience and expertise.

All of this makes the NDP Government’s move to Building Trades-union-only monopolies on major taxpayer- funded projects so offensive. Freezing out 85% of construction workers is unfair, discriminatory and costly to workers and taxpayers.

For the full Construction Monitor, click HERE.

MERIT CANADA: Building Confidence in Canada – Growing National Prosperity

ICBA is a member of Merit Canada.

Merit Canada, representing more than 70 per cent of Canada’s construction industry—today released Building Confidence in Canada: Growing National Prosperity, a five-pillar plan to unleash significant, sustainable and shared prosperity for all Canadians as we enter a new decade. The five pillars are:

  1. Investment, Trade and Growth;
  2. Open and Fair Government Procurement;
  3. Responsible Resource Development;
  4. Building Enabling and Sustainable Infrastructure; and,
  5. Skills, Training and Education.

“A growing economy provides people with jobs and governments with tax revenues to pay for health, education and social programs,” said Walter Pamic, Merit Canada Spokesperson. “Merit Canada is providing the blueprint to support a strong construction sector which employs approximately 1.5 million men and women, grow our economy, and ensure prosperity for all Canadians.”

“The stakes are high in this federal election,” said Pamic. “On October 21, we encourage all Canadians to think carefully about the challenges our country is facing and to cast a ballot for candidates committed to the investment, jobs and opportunities required to support the important health, education, and social programs upon which we all depend.”

Please visit to read the detailed blueprint.

Merit Canada is the national voice of Canada’s provincial Open Shop construction associations. Its roughly 5,000 members employ more than 100,000 Canadians. Merit Canada is the voice of the approximately 70 per cent of the construction contractors and the men and women working in construction who build more than 70 per cent of the industrial, commercial, and institutional, and residential construction projects across the country. Merit Canada was created in 2008 to fight for fairness and transparency in government infrastructure project procurement on behalf of construction contractors and workers. Through its provincial partnerships in seven provinces across Canada, Merit Canada helps Open Shop employers develop the next generation of construction trades workers.

IN THE NEWS: Company explains why Horgan’s union monopoly hurts taxpayers

Surrey’s LMS Reinforcing Steel Group s one of BC’s great success stories – and a proud ICBA member. But they’re part of the 85% of the BC construction industry that the Horgan NDP don’t want working on the new Pattullo or Broadway subway.

And it’s taxpayers who will be hurt most, as they explained to Business in Vancouver:

While LMS has worked on many of B.C.’s largest infrastructure projects over the past 20 years, it won’t be working on the $1.4 billion Pattullo Bridge project.

LMS runs a non-union shop, and the BCNDP’s government’s project labour agreement for the bridge project essentially excludes LMS workers.

“Our price would probably be 20% lower than what they’re going to receive for bids now,” McNeil said. “This NDP position has really forced us not to price our work.”

In other words, the company isn’t even bidding on the project.

McNeil said the impact of that decision has more implications for taxpayers than for LMS, which has plenty of work.

“The cost will escalate. You’re taking out one of the two largest companies in B.C. [which] won’t price the work.”

Tell John Horgan to smarten up at

TRAINING THURSDAY: Supervisors Bootcamp

Are you a front-line supervisor or manager? Our Supervisors Bootcamp October 11 in Langley, October 16 in Victoria and November 8 in Prince George is designed specifically for you!

Participants will be given a leadership “tool kit” as well as self-assessment questionnaires and exercises based on the actual work they do and the people they lead.

The ideas covered in this course will assist employers to tackle important and emerging issues facing business operations today, including:

  • Greater productivity and quality outcomes
  • Greater safety program effectiveness
  • Greater worker retention and engagement

You’ll also earn 1 Gold Seal Credit and 7.5 CPD Points from BC Housing! Register for this or any of our other upcoming courses at If you miss this course, we are offering it again in Burnaby on December 18.

And don’t forget, you don’t have to be a member of ICBA to take our courses. Everyone is welcome!

IN THE NEWS: TSN 1040 Talks About ICBA’s Aikman Event

One week ago, tickets went on sale for the 44th Annual ICBA Gala Dinner, to be held Nov. 5 in Vancouver. Our special guest this year, NFL Hall of Fame QB Troy Aikman, has caused quite a response: more than 70% of our tickets have sold in this first week.

And it even got discussed on TSN 1040’s Sekeres and Price Show yesterday. Listen to that clip below:

Don’t miss out on the biggest celebration of construction in B.C. that will be held this year. We expect tickets to sell out soon, so go to and buy your tickets today.