Small businesses – including thousands in construction – looking for relief from higher taxes, suffocating red tape and other anti-employer policies enacted by the BC NDP Government over the past three years, got nothing in today’s 2020-21 BC Budget, says the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA).
“For job creators and employers, this was a Seinfeld ‘budget about nothing’ – but far less funny,” said Jordan Bateman, ICBA VP-Communications. “Finance Minister Carole James offered absolutely nothing to businesses staggering under the weight of higher taxes, red tape, and anti-employer policies. Small business, the economic engine of B.C., is being left to rust away.”
The Budget, balanced on a razor’s edge but with growing debt, failed to include any meaningful funding for a Massey Tunnel replacement, no tax relief for employers, a tepid reannouncement of some union-focused trades apprentice programs, and no new major capital projects.
“The Massey Tunnel replacement continues to be stalled, which should anger tens of thousands of commuters at B.C.’s worst bottleneck,” Bateman said, noting the cancelled BC Liberal-started bridge would have been 60% complete today. “The NDP are running out of money after unnecessarily overspending by as much as a billion dollars on the Pattullo, Broadway subway, and Highway 1 expansion – just to give its building trades union supporters a monopoly on those projects. They’ve blown the money they should have put toward Massey, and commuters pay the price.” Read more
Looking to take the next step on your career ladder and become an estimator? Check out our Construction Estimating workshop! Participants will learn skills and knowledge to estimate construction projects and prepare a successful bid. At the end of the course participants will be able to:
Analyze projects and decide on which ones to bid
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Do client risk analysis and how to price this into bids
Record material and other prices and maintain contact lists
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Client risk analysis
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Construction Division Codes
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Our next session is February 24-25 in Burnaby, followed by April 16-17 in Prince George, and April 20-21 in Kelowna. Visit www.icba.ca/courses to register for this or any of our other upcoming courses.
VANCOUVER – Even as the British Columbia construction industry plans to raise pay for its workers by 10% over the next two years, companies need more workers and there are concerns about where the NDP Government is taking B.C., according to the results of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association’s (ICBA) 2020 Wage and Benefits Survey.
ICBA President Chris Gardner released the results of its annual survey of approximately 1,000 construction companies Wednesday morning at ICBA’s 23rd annual CEO Breakfast, kicking off the BUILDEX construction tradeshow at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
“It’s another strong year for the construction industry, with workers looking at substantial pay increases this year and next,” said Gardner. “Yet there are notes of caution being sounded by our members: the percentage of companies who expect more work this year than last is now at 40% – the lowest in several years.”
Construction in B.C. now employs nearly 250,000 people and contributes almost 9 per cent of the provincial GDP. This year, survey respondents said they expect to give their workers a 4.8% raise; in 2021, they expect another 5.2% increase. That’s more than double the rate of inflation, which is hovering at 2%.
The major concern of construction contractors remains finding enough workers to do the work, with 64% of companies reporting that the shortage of workers is their biggest challenge. “For young people making career choices, it’s never been a better time to consider learning a trade and planning a career in construction,” said Gardner.
Interior: 40% of contractors expect more work in 2020 than last year; 60% say they are short of workers, especially labourers, carpenters and framers.
North: 38% of contractors expect more work in 2020 than last year; 46% say they are short of workers, especially carpenters, labourers and welders.
Vancouver Island: 24% of contractors expect more work in 2020 than last year; 64% say they are short of workers, especially carpenters, labourers and plumbers.
Lower Mainland: 42% of contractors expect more work in 2020 than last year; 68% say they are short of workers, especially carpenters, labourers and plumbers.
“While still relatively healthy, all of those regional numbers are down substantially from last year, meaning construction businesses aren’t as bullish on the economy as they were 12 months ago,” said Gardner. “This is a troubling result.”
But construction company owners are worried about the direction the B.C. Government is taking the economy. Of those surveyed, only 8% said John Horgan’s NDP government was on the right track in dealing with businesses like theirs. More than half – 53% – said Horgan was on the wrong track, while another 39% were undecided.
“The Horgan NDP Government keeps hiking taxes on employers, making it more expensive to employ people. Add in their building trades union-only monopoly on major transportation projects – which excludes 85 per cent of workers and 82 per cent of apprentices from government funded infrastructure projects, and it’s no wonder the industry is unhappy with them,” said Gardner. “The vast majority of industry wants government to be fair, open and transparent when it comes to bidding projects.”
It’s a story that may have got lost in the buzz of celebrating a new year: the B.C. economy shed another 7,700 jobs in December. That was the sixth time in seven months that B.C. lost jobs.
There are plenty of NDP government policies that can be blamed. Adding nearly $6 billion in new taxes has made it more expensive for BC businesses to employ people and to compete. Throw in the NDP’s lukewarm (and often conflicting) stances on major resource development, freezing 85 per cent of construction workers out of the tendering of public construction projects, and adding more red tape and cost to employers – jobs are bound to be lost.
Unfortunately, City Halls are no slouches when it comes to squandering opportunities to build vibrant thriving communities, whether through glacially slow approval processes, suffocating bureaucracy, or outrageous business property tax rates. Vancouver City Council’s 7 percent tax increase is a slap in the face to residents working hard to get by in one of the most expensive cities in the country.
Another problem is the District of North Vancouver, which continues to defy common sense as it careens from one ridiculous decision to the next. Case in point: a 27-acre site on its waterfront currently houses a private marina, some self-storage, and a concrete plant. Combined, this activity generates less than one job per acre.
When the site went up for sale in 2017, Wesbild looked at the employment potential of the site, purchased it, and put together a visionary, modern, jobs-driven plan for it.
This is not a Coal Harbour situation where employment land has been converted to homes. Wesbild’s vision is to maximize jobs by building modern industrial sites. Wesbild proposed to keep the marina and self-storage, and then build for small and medium-sized businesses struggling to find local industrial properties where they can set up shop, grow, and create local jobs on the North Shore.
It’s desperately needed, with local industrial vacancy rates now below one percent. The resounding and discouraging ‘no’ from the District was bad enough. What was worse was dragging the process out for months and ignoring the timelines they promised.
No wonder local lease rates for small businesses are one-third higher in North Vancouver District than the Metro Vancouver average.
The Wesbild proposal would have created as many as 1,000 jobs on site, and generated a billion dollars in positive economic impact. One of the innovations Wesbild planned was an on-site daycare where children would be cared for near their parents’ workplace—a phenomenal worker recruitment and retention tool.
Here’s the kicker: the Wesbild proposal fits with the current zoning, so no rezoning was necessary. Still, the district said no. If a land owner cannot depend on cities sticking to their own plans, land rights are being taken away.
By dragging out the process, and then killing Wesbild’s proposal, district council are sending exactly the wrong message and managing to accomplish something rather rare – fail local small business, local investors, and local residents in one fell swoop.
No one should be surprised. After all, this is the same council that shot down an 80-unit affordable housing project proposed by Catalyst Community Developments Society and a 100-unit project planned by Hollyburn Family Services. All the units in both projects were to be offered at below market rates to provide desperately needed housing for low income seniors, families and youth.
A dysfunction has settled into our local governments that is leading to serious economic failures, stifling the creation of family supporting jobs and distorting our local housing market.
With taxes out of control, red tape growing faster than it can be printed, job numbers falling, affordability going in the wrong direction for young people, we need more ideas like Wesbild’s – not fewer – and more than ever, we need bold visionary leadership at City Hall.
If we do not get more responsible decision-making from local government, the risk of failing an entire generation of young people seeking local jobs and affordable housing will become a harsh reality.
Last chance to register for our Get the PST Right! PST Issues for the Construction Industry breakfast in Victoria on February 26! It will give you an understanding of how PST applies to your business, and you’ll learn about who pays PST and how to pay it, as well as:
When to pay PST on your goods and supplies
How PST applies to goods for resale vs. those you install
How PST applies to goods used to fulfill a contract outside B.C.
When you need to be registered to collect PST
When to charge your customers PST
How PST applies to goods bought outside B.C.
When you may be eligible for a PST refund and how to apply
Jordan and Maclean talk about the NDP’s plan for the spring session and the BC Budget; the monumental TMX court decision, union-only monopolies, Iowa, Alberta health care studies, and which was dumber: Trudeau’s heritage minister wanting to “licence” journalists or Peter Mackay’s social media team.
The NDP government’s labour framework, devised for the sole purpose of benefitting its Building Trades Union (BTU) cronies, violates the rights of 85 percent of B.C.’s construction workforce and should be declared unconstitutional, according to a coalition of British Columbia’s largest construction associations and progressive unions. Today the B.C. Supreme Court began hearing the coalition’s case to have the government’s labour deal struck down.
“The Horgan government will stop at nothing to pay back its building trades union supporters, even at the expense of shutting 85 percent of the province’s construction workers out of taxpayer-funded projects,” said Chris Gardner, President of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association, whose 2,300 member and client companies employ more than 75,000 people. “This kind of blatant favouritism is offensive and costs workers and construction companies a fair shot at work on taxpayer-funded projects.”
“The Horgan government seems to have no problem violating workers’ basic rights, including freedom of association,” said Ryan Bruce, B.C. Manager of Government Relations for CLAC, which represents over 14,000 workers in BC, who will be forced to change their union membership to work on certain public infrastructure projects. “No government should be allowed to dictate which union workers should belong to.”
In order to build certain public projects, non-BTU workers must put their pensions and benefits on hold and pay dues to the Building Trades Unions, who constitute just 15 percent of the province’s construction workforce.
“This is not a government that stands up for worker rights, not when it freezes workers out of public projects,” said Dave Fuoco, a CLAC member with over 40 years’ experience in the construction industry. “The Horgan government shouldn’t wait to be told to scrap its lousy labour deal.”
“Forced unionization of this sort is an affront to one of the core values of the labour movement: a worker’s freedom to choose. Ironically, it’s a government who claims to be in touch with the working class that is denying workers this fundamental right,” said Ken Baerg, CWU Director of Labour Relations, one of the progressive unions challenging the provincial government’s Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) in court.
“It’s unfortunate that it takes legal intervention in order for the Horgan government to do the right thing,” said Paul de Jong, President of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA). “This labour arrangement is unfair, unethical and unconstitutional and should be quashed.”
“As an association that represents both union and open-shop companies, we know this government policy not only shuts out the majority of the construction workforce but also offloads significant risk to contractors,” added Fiona Famulak, President of the Vancouver Regional Construction Association “This, together with the bureaucracy that’s been created to administer this antiquated labour model, unnecessarily inflates the cost of public projects by tens of millions of dollars that ultimately will be paid for by B.C.’s taxpayers.”
“This CBA policy places added stress on a vital industry that is already facing serious challenges to its future limiting innovation, driving up costs and stifling the naturally occurring community benefits that this new policy chooses to ignore,” said Chris Atchison, President of the BC Construction Association.
The B.C. Supreme Court will hear the coalition’s challenge of B.C.’s labour framework on February 3 to 7, 2020.
Four construction associations (the British Columbia Construction Association, the Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA), the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA), the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA)) and two progressive unions (Canada West Union and CLAC) representing 85% of B.C.’s construction workforce, have joined the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and several construction companies, professionals and workers in launching the lawsuit aimed at halting restrictive labour policies in B.C.’s construction industry.