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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

NEWS RELEASE: ICBA Applauds LNG Canada’s Step Forward; Calls on NDP to Reverse Stance on Trans Mountain

BURNABY – Today’s news that LNG Canada and the Government of British Columbia have inked a fiscal framework agreement is a positive step forward for the province’s Liquefied Natural Gas industry, says the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA).

“We are thrilled with this big leap forward for LNG,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA President. “LNG Canada’s potential investment in the B.C. would be the largest private sector investment in the history of our province. At more than $40 billion in private capital, it would be one of the largest projects every undertaken in Canada, it would create thousands of construction jobs, and it would generate opportunities and positive economic spinoffs for communities across B.C.”

Gardner pointed out that with the NDP and BC Liberals both on board, a provincial LNG industry has broad political support.  “By unlocking our world class energy asset, B.C.’s LNG industry will play an important role in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by helping many Asian countries transition off coal,” said Gardner.

While ICBA is pleased that LNG Canada continues to move forward toward a final investment decision, more can be done by government to encourage the energy and construction industries.

“The NDP have been seen as reluctant – and sometimes hostile – about opportunities to responsibly harness the potential of our natural resources,” said Gardner who pointed out that businesses considering making investments or expanding in B.C. face excessive regulatory hurdles, an unpredictable political environment, and a growing tax burden that is making B.C. a high cost jurisdiction.

“These investments are critical to B.C.’s long-term prosperity,” said Gardner. “We have lost our focus on attracting investment, creating jobs and developing talent, and we are losing opportunities to grow our economy to other countries.”

ICBA has been encouraging the NDP to ‘Get to yes’ and ‘Stick to yes’ on responsible resource development and major infrastructure projects. “Stalled projects, like the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, represent billions of dollars of investment in new technology, training and community development that needs to move forward,” said Gardner.

NEWS RELEASE – NDP Budget Puts Economy on Autopilot, Hikes Taxes: ICBA

VICTORIA – The NDP Government’s first B.C. Budget in 17 years is balanced, but it’s clear far more attention was given to spending taxpayer dollars than to growing the economy, says the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA).

“This budget puts the economy on autopilot – it offers nothing for how to grow prosperity, how to get to yes on major projects, or how to attract investment to B.C. In fact, its tax hikes hinder that effort,” said Jordan Bateman, ICBA Communications Director. “With a razor-thin surplus dependent on a lot of things going right, B.C. taxpayers should be alarmed that the NDP Government has stopped paying attention to growing the economy.”

The Massey Tunnel replacement project has been completely deleted from the Budget, and while the new Pattullo Bridge is funded, there are no line items for Surrey light rail or the Broadway subway.

“The only workforce and industry support mentioned by the Finance Minister were $18 million for arts grants and $29 million for agriculture. There’s another $144 million from the federal government for employment programs, but you can’t help but think Ottawa might be hesitant to cut that cheque right now,” said Bateman. “This won’t do much to grow the economy.”

While there is much to like in the government’s 30-point housing plan – including cracking down on tax cheats – there are some notable omissions. No mention is made of pushing cities to cut red tape on new housing, which is a significant hindrance to supply.

ICBA members should also brace themselves for a new employer health care payroll tax, to replace the Medical Services Premium. Businesses with payrolls over $500,000 will have to pay a new health tax for their employees. The tax’s initial rate is set at 1.95 per cent of payroll.

“The NDP are balancing this budget by hiking taxes on B.C.’s job creators,” said Bateman. “Lost MSP revenue will be $1.74 billion over three years, but the new payroll tax will bring in $3.2 billion during that time. That kind of double dipping is troubling and disingenuous – collecting both the old and new tax at once.”

With last year’s personal income tax hike, the carbon tax increasing by $5 a ton every year, the minimum wage hike, more regulation, a new 2 cent per litre Capital Region gas tax, and the MSP-Employer Health Tax double dip, small businesses – as 90 per cent of ICBA members are – will be stretched thin. In total, the NDP Government is raising taxes by more than $5.5 billion over three years.

The provincial debt will grow by a billion dollars each quarter over the next two years, to $77 billion.

TRAINING THURSDAY: Time Management Workshop

How’s your time management? Are you a procrastinator? Don’t put it off for another day; register now for our Time Management Workshop on December 13 in Burnaby!

You will gain a new mindset, skillset and toolset that will optimize your personal productivity, and learn how to produce greater results in less time. Improved time management skills mean increased productivity, met deadlines, and a positive impact on all aspects of your business. You’ll also earn 7 Group A CPD Points from BC Housing and 1 Gold Seal Credit!

Here are some of the benefits of attending:

  • Participants learn how to gain and keep control of competing priorities, concurrent projects and critical deadlines.
  • Participants will learn powerful lessons about themselves, enhancing self-understanding so they can leverage their personal strengths and develop strategies to minimize the impact of their weakness.
  • The focus on practicality means that people walk out with ideas and techniques they can apply the next day.

Register now at You don’t have to be a member to register for our courses, but members do save on registration fees. Learn more about becoming a member at

Canada is Failing on the Get-to-Yes Challenge

Chris Gardner, President, ICBA

In this Monitor, we highlight the challenges of moving forward with important infrastructure projects. We dig a little deeper into Site C, following the release of the BC Utilities Commission preliminary report.

That report is consistent with the outcome of the independent review panel that studied Site C for 29 months, and concluded it is the best way for B.C. to lock-in a source of clean power for the next 100 years. IBCA representatives spoke in favour of Site C at BCUC public forums in Vancouver, Prince George and Fort St. John.

It was frustrating to see provincial  lawyers in Federal Court in an effort to scuttle the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion just as construction is about to begin. This after a decade of effort, extensive independent review, and federal and provincial approvals (subject to 194 conditions that will be rigorously enforced).

We were also disappointed to see the provincial government decide to review the Massey Tunnel replacement – one of the most dangerous traffic choke points in Canada. Metro Vancouver is growing fast and we need better transit and new roads and bridges. This is not about choosing one project over the other – it’s about the infrastructure investments that will enable businesses to compete and families to get around safely.

Finally, ICBA recently weighed in on the federal government’s proposed changes to small business corporation tax rules – changes that clearly fail the test of fairness. We should be doing every-thing we can to promote and support entrepreneurship, not penalizing the Canadians behind the small businesses that are the lifeblood of our economy.  The family-owned restaurant, the mom-and-pop corner grocer, the boutique hotel, and the local construction contractor are all unfairly targeted by these proposed measures.

Read more

Training Thursday: Negotiation Skills Workshop

When you sit down at the negotiating table, are you walking away with what you want? Do you ever feel like you’re being taken advantage of?

ICBA can help! Many people fail in their negotiations because they walk away from the table when they could have done much better. Our Negotiation Skills Workshop will teach you a proven, practical approach to win-win negotiations, and how to protect yourself from hardball negotiators.

Here’s what’s covered:

  • The most common negotiating mistakes people make and how to avoid them
  • Understanding the difference between Collaborative “win-win” and Competitive “hardball” negotiations and how to know what game you are playing
  • The characteristics of highly effective negotiators
  • Understanding the different sources of negotiating power
  • How to strengthen your bargaining position
  • How to create an open communication flow that allows you to deeply understand the other party
  • The 5-step process to quickly and effectively plan and prepare for your negotiations
  • How to determine your “walk-away point”
  • How to defend yourself against “hardball’ negotiators
  • How to counter the 5 common manipulative strategies being used against you
  • How to create win – win outcomes that ensure the other party lives up to their end of the bargain

We get fantastic feedback on this course every time we offer it; to learn more about this course or register for one of our upcoming sessions, visit

NEWS RELEASE: ICBA Opposes Ottawa Tax Plan for Small Businesses

BURNABY, B.C. – Changes to how small business corporations are taxed proposed by the Federal Government fail the test of fairness and will hurt middle class entrepreneurs and small business owners, the president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) outlined in a submission to government today.

“We should be doing everything we can to promote and support entrepreneurship, not penalizing Canadians who want to start a new venture or who are managing the small businesses that are the lifeblood of our economy,” said ICBA president Chris Gardner. “The family-owned restaurant, the mom-and-pop corner grocery store, the boutique hotel, and the local construction contractor are being unfairly targeted by these new measures.”

The ICBA submission calls on the federal government to withdraw their proposals and instead open meaningful dialogue with small business owners and entrepreneurs on how to make our tax system more effective and ensure that any changes in tax policy do not undermine small business confidence or negatively impact job creation and investment across the country.

“Small business owners appear to be targeted with language such as ‘loopholes’ and ‘backdoor tax breaks’ implying that their tax treatment and behaviour is somehow underhanded,” said Gardner. “ICBA members and small businesses across the country are very concerned with the government’s narrative implying that most small businesses are not paying their fair share of tax – nothing could be further from the truth.”

ICBA’s submission to the Department of Finance outlines the story of Dave and Brenda, a hypothetical married couple who own a construction contracting business. It highlights several examples of how the government’s proposed rules will negatively impact their business, dismantle their retirement savings, and make it prohibitively expensive to transfer the business to their son.

“Dave and Brenda have a common story – risking it all to start a small business, working long hours and sacrificing evenings and weekends to keep the company going, creating jobs for people in their community, saving for their retirement, and hoping to pass the business on to their kids,” said Gardner. “It’s hard to understand why the federal government is effectively accusing hundreds of thousands of Canadians of doing something wrong when they are simply playing by the rules, trying to build a business, supporting their communities and working hard to make an honest living.”

For ICBA’s full submission to the federal government’s consultation on tax planning using private corporations, click HERE.


How’s your knowledge of tendering law? Let ICBA buy you breakfast while you get an overview!

Tendering as a method of procurement can be fraught with risks as the law changes and adapts, and we want to help you. ICBA’s training department invites you to register now for our October 20 breakfast session in Burnaby, presented by a leading construction lawyer.

Here’s the course outline:

  • Introduction to the law of tendering including an overview of:
  • The difference between tenders and RFPs and other procurement methods
  • The bidder’s obligations to the tendering authority
  • The tendering authority’s obligations to the bidder
  • Tendering case law update and discussion of recent decisions
  • Practical tips and advice on key aspects of tendering

Interested? Register for this or any of our other training courses at You don’t have to be a member to take any of our courses!

Looking to hear more from our training team? Sign up for our bi-weekly training newsletter at

NEWS RELEASE: Nothing in BCUC Report to Stop Site C Construction

BURNABY, B.C.: The British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) released its Preliminary Report regarding its Site C Inquiry and the initial findings confirm that construction on the Site C Clean Energy Project should continue.

“There is absolutely nothing in the BCUC Report that would lead anyone to conclude that construction on Site C should not continue,” said Chris Gardner, President of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA).

The findings in the Preliminary Report confirm that Site C is not only on time but is one year ahead of schedule and the project is coming in under budget.

“The BCUC’s review supports the previous work by third-party consultants reviewing the project and the independent Joint Review Panel that studied Site C for 29 months, the project makes sense and is the best way for B.C. to lock-in a source of clean power for the next 100 years,” said Gardner.

Key findings from the BCUC Preliminary Report include:

  • The Site C Project is, as of June 30, 2017, on time to start operating in November 2024.
  • BC Hydro is managing the project to a more aggressive schedule to put the dam in service in 2023, one year earlier than the 2024 date.
  • The BCUC confirmed that BC Hydro has identified cost savings in the Project that increase the amount of available contingency from the $794 million in the budget to a figure of $1.194 billion now.
  • The BCUC found that it is not yet in a position to assess the cost impact to ratepayers of continuing, suspending or terminating construction.

According to Gardner, it is not surprising that the BCUC faced challenges getting sufficient information in some areas since they were only given six weeks to prepare their Preliminary Report.

“The compressed calendar and the fact that Site C is 20% complete does raise a question regarding the real value of the government requesting the BCUC to undertake this review,” Gardner said.

ICBA launched its #Get2Yes on Site C campaign with a media event at BC Hydro’s Vancouver headquarters on June 8, using 2,252 Site C pink slips to illustrate how many people work on the Peace River dam site and who are risk of being fired.

Site C was more than a decade in the planning, has undergone extensive environmental assessments and regulatory reviews, and was signed off by both the federal and provincial governments. Both the process and project have been upheld in fourteen different judicial reviews in the BC Supreme Court, the BC Court of Appeal and the Federal Court of Canada.

“The one thing that is clear from the BCUC’s Preliminary Report is that the focus should be on completing Site C on-budget and on-time so that B.C. will benefit from this strategic investment in our long-term clean energy future,” Gardner said.

The BCUC Report can be found here:

TRAINING THURSDAY: Write winning proposals and effective reports

Are your proposals successful? Are your reports as effective as they could be? In our competitive world, your proposals need to be compelling, concise and articulate, and your reports need to be focused on exactly what your client needs.

Our new Writing Winning Proposals and Effective Reports course will teach you these skills. The two-part course will help you to develop the confidence and writing skills necessary to write effective proposals and reports.

In the Writing Winning Proposals workshop, you will:

  • Learn about different types of proposals, from formal Request for Proposals (RFP) and related requests from vendors, to less formal proposals, estimates, and quotes
  • Understand how to differentiate your proposal from others by articulating your competitive advantages
  • Apply specific techniques across the planning, drafting, and revising stages for your proposal
  • Understand what clients are looking for when they are evaluating your proposal

In the Writing Effective Reports workshop, you will:

  • Learn about different types of reports, from formal technical reports to informal short reports
  • Understand how to tailor your reports for senior management and other audience groups
  • Avoid common mistakes
  • Learn to craft a report work plan and structure your key sections and content

Both sessions take place on November 23 in Burnaby; you are able to register for just one of the seminars, or take both in one day. Visit for more information on this or any of our other upcoming courses!

Looking to hear more from our training team? Sign up for our bi-weekly training newsletter at