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
Yesterday, the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association has released its annual Wage and Benefit survey, tracking trends in the construction industry. It has both good and bad news. In good news, construction workers can expect an average 5.1 per cent pay bump this year, and another 5.3 per cent next year.
But in bad news, a majority of construction companies think the BC Government is headed in the wrong direction when it comes to managing the economy. Only 8 per cent of companies believe the NDP is on the right track; 51 per cent say they’re on the wrong track.
Understanding the Employment Standards Act can be complicated. We’d hate for you to find out you weren’t in compliance with the Act and face months of back pay. Join us for breakfast!
Our Employment Standards Act Refresher breakfast session on February 25 in Victoria or April 12 in Burnaby will give you a review of Employment Standards Act requirements that are particularly relevant to construction industry employers. These include:
Who is a “manager”
Hours of work and overtime
Averaging agreements for hours of work
Termination of employment
Vacation and statutory holidays
Independent contractors vs. employees
Impact of the common law
You’ll also earn 2 Group A CPD Points from BC Housing for this two-hour seminar.
ICBA President Chris Gardner released the results of its annual survey of 1,000 construction companies Wednesday morning at ICBA’s 22nd annual CEO Breakfast, kicking off the BUILDEX construction tradeshow at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
“The state of construction in B.C. is strong with just over half our companies expecting more work in 2019 than the year before,” said Gardner. “The industry is firing on all cylinders and then some.”
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 2020, they expect another 5.3% increase. That’s more than double the rate of inflation.
Interior: 37% of contractors expect more work in 2019 than last year; 78% say they are short of workers, especially labourers, carpenters and framers.
North: 64% of contractors expect more work in 2019 than last year; 68% say they are short of workers, especially carpenters, labourers and welders.
Vancouver Island: 29% of contractors expect more work in 2019 than last year; 82% say they are short of workers, especially carpenters, labourers and plumbers.
Lower Mainland: 54% of contractors expect more work in 2019 than last year; 78% say they are short of workers, especially carpenters, labourers and plumbers.
“Worker shortages are not a problem unique to construction – retail, food, tourism and many other industries are experiencing things as the B.C. workforce ages,” said Gardner. “This demographic cliff is partly why construction continues to be an exciting and appealing career for a quarter million British Columbians – there is plenty of work, and good workers are being well-paid, well-trained and well-rewarded.”
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 – 51% – said Horgan was on the wrong track, while another 41% said they didn’t know.
“The NDP government is actively discriminating against 85% of construction workers in B.C. by forcing them to join a specially-selected union if they want to work on projects like the new Pattullo Bridge,” said Gardner. “Add in the NDP’s opposition to project likes Trans Mountain and the Massey Tunnel replacement; reams of new red tape; and $5.5 billion in tax hikes, and it’s no wonder so many job creators are worried about the direction B.C. is headed.”
A long time ago, a wizened veteran of a thousand political campaigns told me the most important demographic he looked at was the rate of home ownership.
Kid, he said, in that cynical way only grizzled campaigners can muster, homeowners vote Socred (or, in the modern era, B.C. Liberal), renters vote NDP.
Of course, nothing in politics is ever that cut-and-dried. Even the NDP know they need some homeowners to support them if they ever hope to have a majority government.
That’s why one particular piece of information collected on the speculation tax exemption form should give voters pause. No, not the social insurance number, or overreaching personal details, or what you do with your private property.
It’s your email address.
Why is the NDP government sending out 1.6 million letters to homeowners to capture, maybe, 20,000 British Columbians who should pay the tax? Email addresses.
Claims that the speculation tax opt-out process is just like the homeowners’ grant process are false. To get that $570 tax saving, you must sign your property tax form or — if you pay online — click a box. Easy peasy.
The speculation tax is different.
Don’t take my word for it. Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer says the speculation tax forms are far more complicated:
“Whereas the ministry admits that on average an exempt property owner will need up to 20 minutes to complete the speculation tax application — and that is a lowball estimate in my opinion. It takes much more than 20 minutes to navigate the more than two dozen pages of information about the tax and its exemptions posted on the ministry website.”
Then, of course, your spouse has to repeat the process — and hand over his or her email address too.
The crazy thing is that the homeowners’ grant can only be claimed if the property is the taxpayer’s “principal residence.” It would have been simple to cross-reference databases and eliminate those properties from the initial tax, saving maybe a million bucks, time and a batch of bad press.
So why bother with such an intrusive rollout?
There is only one piece of personal information on that speculation tax exemption form that government can’t get through its myriad of databases: email addresses.
I’m not suggesting that the NDP government or the provincial bureaucracy would directly email British Columbians partisan messaging. This would be immediately caught by the Privacy Commissioner and be a public-relations disaster.
But what’s to stop the government from dumping those email addresses into Facebook or other social media advertising platforms in order to “better communicate” with British Columbians or target government-friendly ads to homeowners? Or to analyze the data and create “like audiences” to market?
The NDP have a historic disadvantage with homeowners — what better way to soften and/or test messaging with them than by social media?
There is no compelling reason why the NDP government needs our email addresses for this speculation-tax exemption. Indeed, cybersecurity experts and academic researchers have been saying for years that you shouldn’t collect information you don’t need (or plan to use) — because then you have a duty to protect it.
One presumes the government has plans to use its database of 1.6 million email addresses for something. But what? Will the Privacy Commissioner weigh in to stop them? Will the B.C. Liberals or the B.C. Green party kick up a fuss in Question Period?
Even the most cynical campaigner has to tip their tinfoil hat to the NDP on this one.
Communication is important, whether it’s at work or at home. Do you know your own communication style and how to work with others with differing styles? Our Communication Skills workshop February 14-15 in Burnaby will help!
This workshop is designed to improve your communication skills as a supervisor and manager, both in the office and in the field. You’ll learn effective leadership through communication skills, how to deal with difficult people, how to prepare for and facilitate meetings, and much more! Here’s the full course outline:
Effective Leadership through Communication Skills
Dealing with Difficult People, Conflict and Confrontation
Assertive Training and Speaking Skills
Communication through Body Language
Managing a Good Impression to Clients
Constructive Use of Anger and Persuasion Skills
Anger and Conflict Management Skills
Communicating Discipline and Termination
Resolving Disputes through Communication
How to Prepare for and Facilitate Meetings
Communication through Writing Skills
Drafting and Preparing Proper Reports and Correspondence
Communicating Teamwork to Staff and Workers
This two-day workshop also gives you 5 Gold Seal Credits and 14 Group A CPD points from BC Housing. We’ll also be in Victoria March 6 to 7 and in Kelowna March 28-29. Register for any of our upcoming workshops at www.icba.ca/courses. If you can’t make our February course in Burnaby, we’ll be back on May 6 to 7.
We can also provide this or any of our other courses as a private session for you and your employees! You can email our training team at email@example.com for more information.
With the changes to the legal status of cannabis, many employers have questions!
What are the rights, responsibilities and risks to employers regarding cannabis in the workplace? What is the impact of recreational or medical use of this drug on your organization and for those in safety-sensitive positions? For medical use, how do you manage the duty to accommodate process? Do you have the appropriate policy framework in place to face related challenges?
We want to help you, so we’re holding two breakfast sessions on Cannabis in the Workplace. The first will be February 8 in Victoria, and then March 7 in Burnaby.
Here’s what you’ll learn in this two-hour session:
Learn more about the federal “Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations”.
Understand that a “prescription” for cannabis does not give an employee the absolute right to use it in the workplace.
Understand your rights when it comes to those in Safety-Sensitive positions.
Discuss employee and employer obligations with regard to the use of cannabis.
Recognize the rights, responsibilities and risks for both employers and employees to avoid unnecessary litigation.
Identify the various ways the use of cannabis impacts the employer-employee relationship, and what you can do about it.
Identify what employers should be doing to review their workplace drug and alcohol policies.