Recently, the Building Trades Unions – having seen their market share in BC construction slip to a historic low of less than 15% – lashed out with a full-page ad in the Victoria Times Colonist, claiming that “unscrupulous” B.C. contractors are somehow bilking taxpayers out of $308 million per year.

Their “evidence” is a flimsy report from little-known Prism Analysis that has been fully branded with BC Building Trades logos and design marks, showing that this is far from an independent view.

This “analysis” is just another slanderous attack on small business owners and sole proprietors. Here are some facts they didn’t report:

  1. With a historic labour shortage, virtually every construction company in B.C. is desperate for workers – if they can lock up sole proprietors and independent contractors as employees, they will.
  2. The study uses stats from the 1990s and 2001 to pad their numbers, as they don’t have evidence for today (or any other time in the past two decades).
  3. They claim independent operators are evading $271.6 million in income and other payroll taxes – but offer no map as to how they got to that number. Many independent contractors have trucks or other equipment that they can write off taxes against. It’s not underreporting – it’s completely legal usage of the tax code.
  4. “It is unrealistic to expect a precise and accurate measure of the size of the underground economy in construction,” their report reads – yet they pulled an exact number ($308M) out of thin air.
  5. Their answer to a non-existent problem is more government red tape – no doubt staffed with washed-up building trades union bosses.

Most hilariously in their ad, they claim that the tax money lost to these independent contractors could “pay for a third of the new Cowichan District Hospital replacement.” As if they care about taxpayer money one bit: that same hospital is being built for hundreds of millions of dollars more than necessary as the building trades unions’ friends in the NDP government have given the unions a monopoly on the project through a misnamed Community Benefit Agreement. Want to get more value for a dollar? Don’t cut out 85% of companies from bidding a project!

Cleaning up the construction industry, as the Building Trades Unions claim they want to do, should begin with fair and open bidding on government projects, with no company getting an advantage because of how they’re workforce is organized or how much money and support Big Labour has given the NDP over the years.