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TRAINING THURSDAY: ICBA’s Blueprint Reading Courses

Reading blueprints is an essential skill in construction! We want to give you a solid foundation in this fundamental skill with our upcoming workshops.

Our next Introduction to Blueprint Reading course is in Abbotsford on March 20; you’ll learn how to read sets of residential and commercial blueprints, making this course suitable for all construction professionals.

Among the topics covered are the design process and the role of design professionals, architectural and engineering scales, understanding specifications, and layout basics.

We’re also bringing this course to Victoria on April 3, Kamloops on April 12, and Kelowna on May 15. You’ll earn 1 Gold Seal Credit and 7 Group A CPD Points from BC Housing.

For full course descriptions and online registration for any of our upcoming courses, visit

NEWS RELEASE: Economic Winter is Coming to B.C., but NDP Budget Ignores Warning Signs: ICBA

VICTORIA – As economic storm clouds gather on the horizon, the NDP Government’s 2019/20 B.C. Budget offers nothing to help construction and responsible resource development companies prepare for any looming downturn.

It also adds red tape and more costs for employers, ratchets up government spending, adds billions in debt, and fails to address B.C.’s startling lack of competitiveness with the U.S., Asia and other Canadian provinces.

“Around the world, prudent leaders are preparing for the next downturn as economic warning lights pop on,” said Jordan Bateman, ICBA’s VP-Communications. “But in B.C., the NDP Government thinks economic growth will continue on happily for at least the next three years –and are taxing, borrowing and spending like mad.”

Construction is the unsung hero of the B.C. economy, employing nearly 250,000 people and contributing almost 9 per cent of the provincial GDP – yet it was totally ignored in this budget.

Housing starts dropped 6.4 per cent in 2018 and are projected to drop another 16.7 per cent this year. In fact, under the NDP’s economic mismanagement, housing starts will fall almost one-third from 43,664 in 2017 to 30,517 in 2021. Yet, inexplicably, the NDP budget suggests that property transfer tax will somehow remain steady at $1.9 billion per year.

“Slowing housing starts means fewer jobs in construction, less PTT revenue, and one-third less supply to meet the demand for new homes,” said Bateman. “Instead of cutting red tape and trying to turbo charge housing starts to drive down costs, the NDP is quietly choking out the market.” Read more

NEWS RELEASE: ICBA Vindicated by Voters’ Rejection of Prop Rep

Today’s announcement by Elections BC that proportional representation has been rejected by voters is good news for British Columbia, according to the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA).

“The entire process was rigged by the NDP Government in favour of proportional representation,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA President. “Gone was any real consultation with British Columbians or specific information on how these systems would work. Instead, the government developed a confusing question, rushed the process, lowered the threshold for approval, cut off any meaningful debate, and used the full weight of the government to get to the answer they wanted. It was rigged, unfair and a betrayal of our strong democratic values. The good news is that voters saw through the deception and the unfairness and ultimately rejected a questionable set of alternatives put before them by the government.”

In 2005’s electoral reform referendum, 61% of eligible voters turned out. In 2009, turnout was 55%. In ICBA’s view, the fact that barely 41% of B.C. voters made their choice known in this referendum reinforced that the government had no mandate to fundamentally change our democracy.

“No one knew how any of this was going to work,” said Gardner. “Premier Horgan and Attorney General Eby accomplished what they set out to do: suppress voter participation and rig the process to favour the system they wanted. What we were witnessing was the hijacking of our voting system by an activist government committed to radically changing our democracy. Fortunately, voters saw through all of this and voted to retain the system that for generations has fairly, and simply, delivered stable governments in B.C.” Read more

BC Construction Monitor: The BC Economy – It Starts With What Gets Built

Every morning, nearly 250,000 British Columbians get up and head to work in the construction industry, and their work accounts for nearly a tenth of the entire B.C. economy. This is an ICBA President under-recognized reality in British Columbia, and one that we point out to stakeholders at every opportunity.

Too often, construction somehow fades into the backdrop, with other sectors – from energy and natural resources, to high tech and tourism – enjoying a higher profile and greater cachet.

In fact, building structures and infrastructure is the foundational activity in any economy. And in B.C., with an ongoing influx of new residents and various major industrial and infrastructure projects needing to be built, construction plays an even larger role.

Construction is a key indicator of overall economic health, since it is one of the first activities to shrink when uncertainty takes hold. It is a massive generator of investment and jobs in its own right – so much so that contractors are having growing difficulty finding enough skilled workers. Construction in turn drives large spin-off benefits in every community across the province.

We take stock in this Monitor of construction’s true economic impact, strength and importance in B.C. The numbers underscore the reality that when ICBA advocates for a strong construction sector, we’ve got the best interests of British Columbia and our long-term prosperity very much at heart.

GDP and employment figures are 2018 forecasts (Central 1 Credit Union), weekly wage rates are as of September 2018 (BC Stats).

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NEWS RELEASE: BC Health Ministry Underfunding Parkinson’s Treatment

Family and friends of a Fort Langley man awaiting important surgery are calling on the B.C. Government to put more resources into Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery for patients with Parkinson’s Disease.

More than 25 years ago, Tom Armour founded Armor Installations, one of B.C.’s top steel erection companies. Under his leadership, hundreds of young, ambitious ironworkers were trained and employed – men and women who have helped build B.C. infrastructure and projects.

Armour was diagnosed several years ago with Parkinson’s Disease and sold his company in order to focus on the fight of his life. Thanks to the care of the UBC Hospital, Armour was approved for Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery, a special procedure that greatly improves the quality of life for Parkinson’s patients.

Unfortunately, Armour has been waiting ever since – for more than two years, and there is still no defined date for his surgery. Read more

New Union-Only Reality for Public Construction Even Worse Than Feared

Chris Gardner, President, ICBA

John Horgan is shamelessly using tens of billions in public construction and infrastructure spending to settle political debts to his allies in the old-school building trades unions, giving these few unions a monopoly on taxpayer-funded work.

A wide cross section of the province’s business and labour community has called on him to back down, and ICBA is leading a large coalition standing up for fairness.

Horgan’s sweetheart ‘deal’ will deliver a cash infusion to the unions, create massive job-site inefficiencies, and deliver far less value for tax dollars than fair procurement practices would.

His so-called ‘Community Benefits Agreement’ will narrow the range of bidders on public projects and, even more troublingly, force member-ship in the highly partisan building trades unions.

The new reality for public construction is this: Successful bidders will have to borrow their workforces from a new government agency that will act as the centrally planned employer. This discriminates against the 85 per cent of B.C. construction workers not represented by the building trades.

Complex and productivity-killing rules about which union has “jurisdiction” over each task – largely abandoned elsewhere in the construction industry – will be in full force. And individual workers will be forced to join an NDP-approved union, with no regard to individual choice and rights.

Horgan’s gift-to-the-building- trades is copied out of the flawed Glen Clark playbook from the 1990s – which drove up labour costs on the Island Highway project by close to 40 per cent.

It’s nearly a quarter-of-a-century later, and the building trades rep-resent even less of the construction industry today than they did then. It simply defies belief that the NDP has nevertheless put us back on that same ruinous road, where worker rights and taxpayer value get thoroughly trampled.

Read more

NEWS RELEASE: ICBA Considering Options After Court Decision

VANCOUVER – The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) is disappointed that the BC Supreme Court was unwilling to press the pause button on holding the referendum on proportional representation. Earlier today, the Court rejected the application by ICBA for an injunction to postpone the referendum before a ruling is issued on its legal challenge. The Courts rarely, if ever, grant such an injunction, and Justice Gropper made that point clearly in her decision today. We understood this likelihood but given the critical importance of this matter and the very short time frame which the NDP government set for the referendum period we decided to pursue this course of action.

Our challenge was delayed because the NDP government said it was not ready to proceed quickly to defend its rules, its regulations and its process. With all the resources and expertise at the disposal of the Ministry of Justice, it is incredibly hard to understand how the NDP government was not ready to defend the referendum it created on a faster timeline.

“British Columbians could be forgiven for thinking that the Government is playing politics on an issue that goes to the core of our democracy and that it is rigging the process to engineer the outcome that it desires,” stated Chris Gardner, President of the ICBA.

The ICBA continues to wait for the NDP government’s formal response to our legal challenge. When the government files its response, the hearing on ICBA’s legal challenge can proceed. Unfortunately, the delay means British Columbians will not have the benefit of a decision until shortly before the closing of the voting period for the referendum.

“British Columbians deserve better than this,” said Gardner. “Changing the way we elect our government deserves more than passing consideration – it requires a fair and open process with a clear question and a reasonable timeline that allows for a robust debate.”  Read more

NEWS RELEASE: ICBA Leads Worker Challenge to NDP Union-Only Hiring Model

The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) has filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court asking that the NDP government’s new building trades union-only hiring model for taxpayer-funded construction projects be struck down.

“John Horgan is attempting to direct more than $25 billion in taxpayer-funded construction to his donors and supporters in the building trades unions,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA President. “It’s simply not fair to discriminate against the 85 per cent of construction workers who are not part of the old-fashioned hiring hall model where unions control who can work where and when. Construction workers in B.C. deserve better from this government – they deserve choice, fairness and a level playing field.”

Under Horgan’s plan, anyone working on a provincial government construction project will be forced to join one of the Government’s NDP-approved building trades unions, the same unions that have donated millions of dollars to the NDP over the past few elections. Gone will be fair, open and transparent procurement on public infrastructure projects.

“The choice of which union to join, if any, should be made by the workers through a secret ballot, and should not be imposed by government,” stated Gardner. “No matter how a construction company organizes its workforce, in this province every construction company should have the right to bid and win work funded by taxpayers.”

The claim from government that building trades union-only hiring will somehow be the answer to increasing training and job opportunities for young people and indigenous communities couldn’t be further from the truth.

“You don’t train more people in construction by cutting backroom deals with the building trades unions and giving them a monopoly on government projects,” said Gardner. “You train more people by being inclusive, by investing in more training spaces, and by working with the private sector who train workers on construction projects in every community across the province every day.”

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena says the union-only model will drive up the cost of the Pattullo project by $100 million. But according to an analysis done by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, with the province planning to spend $25.6 billion on infrastructure over the next three years, the building trades union-only hiring model, could cost taxpayers as much as $4.8 billion more in construction costs – nearly $4,000 for every family in the province. “Competition is the best way to keep costs down and reassures the public that government is being fair and transparent, and not just rewarding friends and insiders,” said Gardner.

Joining the petition are organizations that, along with ICBA, represent the 85 per cent of construction workers in B.C. who are not affiliated with the building trades unions: the British Columbia Construction Association; the Vancouver Regional Construction Association; and the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada.

In addition, two progressive unions representing thousands of construction workers in B.C. who are not affiliated with the building trades unions – the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC), and Canada West Construction Union (CWCU) – are supporting the legal challenge.

Also participating are the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Five major contractors have also joined the petition: Eagle West Crane & Rigging; Jacob Bros. Construction; LMS Reinforcing Steel Group; Morgan Construction and Environmental; and, Tybo Contracting. Each is representative of the thousands of construction companies across B.C. whose workers are not affiliated with the building trades unions and which will therefore be excluded from working on projects like the $1.4 billion Pattullo Bridge replacement project, unless their workers join one of the NDP government’s approved unions.

Finally, six construction professionals are participating: Forrest Berry; Brendon Froude; David Fuoco; Thomas MacDonald; Dawn Rebelo; and, Richard Williams. Each faces the stark choice of having to join one of the building trades unions to work on government projects, and, by doing so, discontinue receiving benefits and contributions under their current employer plans and be denied bonus and advancement opportunities that building trades unions typically don’t provide.

“It’s just not right that the NDP Government is creating such a high level of angst and uncertainty for the families of the men and women working in construction in B.C.,” said Gardner.

A 336-page Project Labour Agreement (PLA), released by the provincial government a few weeks ago, was negotiated behind closed doors between the building trades unions and the NDP Government. It includes 32 cents per person-hour in payments to unions for various funds, including 25 cents per person-hour payment for “union administration.”

The agreement also makes it clear building trades unions will decide who works on each part of the project – meaning companies will not have access to their usual employees, thus jeopardizing the safety, efficiency and productivity that comes with working with trusted colleagues who know each other and their company’s systems.

“It really is crazy to imagine that a company will bid a project but will not know which, if any, of its employees will be working on the project – that’s a recipe for bureaucratic inefficiency, delays, increased costs and confusion,” stated Gardner.

The ICBA petition asserts that the building trades union-only hiring model is legally flawed and violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:

  • Forced unionization is inconsistent with sections 2(b) and 2(d) of the Charter and unlawfully restricts freedom of association;
  • It discriminates against the approximately 85 per cent of the men and women in construction in B.C. who are not members of a building trades union; and,
  • It is unfair and violates the principles of openness and transparency that British Columbians rightly expect when the government seeks contractors for taxpayer-funded work.

“One year ago, John Horgan promised a new way of doing business in B.C. Sadly, John Horgan has put the interests of his union donors and supporters ahead of what’s best for British Columbians. His policy agenda appears to be more about unfair backroom deals, special favors and discrimination aimed at helping NDP supporters and insiders,” stated Gardner.

For the full text of ICBA’s petition, click here.

TRAINING THURSDAY: Back to School, Back to Training!

Summer is coming to a close, back to school sales are in full swing, and soon it will be September. Time to start planning your training for the remainder of the year? We think so!

ICBA offers hundreds of courses per year through BC, from safety courses such as Occupational First Aid Level 1 to managerial training sessions such as Supervisory and Management Skills or Communication Skills. Our training department brings together high-quality information with skilled and knowledgeable instructors to offer courses that are relevant, up to date and interesting.

Among the new workshops this fall are a variety of breakfast sessions in Burnaby, including Cannabis in the Workplace on September 25, and an Overview of CCDC Contract Documents on October 23.

We are also bringing back some of our popular courses, including How To Be A Better Foreman in Burnaby on November 30, and Trenching and Excavation Safety Workshop on September 24 in Victoria and October 24 in Prince George, among many others!

You can check out our full upcoming course calendar at Our courses are open to members and non-members, though members receive a discount. More information about ICBA membership can be found at

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