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In response to the LNG Working Group recommendations

It’s refreshing to see the labour movement embrace economic development and the prosperous opportunities a new Liquefied Natural Gas industry offers.

This report recognizes that the labour movement is prepared to join with B.C. business community and open shop construction industry to ensure we have the skills necessary to build a brand new industry in B.C. We welcome their contributions and participation.

The Open Shop construction industry is inclusive and has built the majority of projects in B.C. We will work with all groups to meet to our skills training needs.

With the expected 100,000 jobs this new industry will need, there will be more jobs than we have skilled labourers. It will take a concerted effort by the entire construction industry to ensure we have enough workers.

We will need to put more than British Columbians to work. We will need Canadians from every province. If we run out of skilled Canadians to do the job then let’s bring in Temporary Foreign Workers. They can train and mentor our apprentices. In essence they can train themselves out of those jobs. It will help solve the problem short term and for the future.

It takes a village to build a brand new Liquefied Natural Gas industry in B.C.  We all have a role to play.

Provincial Government announces roundtable on the environment and the economy

Environment Minister Mary Polak recently announced a roundtable of representatives from communities, industry, labour, First Nations and the environmental sector has been established to discuss ways to find the right balance between economic development and environmental protection.

ICBA President, Philip Hochstein was appointed to the roundtable.

The roundtable will be an opportunity for stakeholder groups to work with the B.C. government on environmental policy priorities to strike a balance between sustainable resource development and the protection of human health and the environment. The roundtable will be chaired by Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier, while the topics for discussion will be set by the Minister of Environment in consultation with roundtable members.

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IKEA must not punish loyal workers:

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Things aren’t always what they appear to be, something that is becoming increasingly clear from the Teamsters strike at the Richmond IKEA store. It appears to be a David vs. Goliath battle, in which unionized workers faithfully toe the union line in a prolonged battle against global corporate giant IKEA. But as the facts surface, it is clear the only thing currently standing between IKEA workers and returning to their jobs is an unprecedented power play by the union leaders at Teamsters Local 213.

Rather than focusing on putting employees back to work, union leaders have decreed there will be no deal unless those employees who crossed the picket line to support their families (as they are legally entitled to do under B.C. law) are terminated from the store. For full article

New TRU program counts trades apprenticeship training toward degree


Thompson River University is offering a new and unique program for tradespeople interested in advancing their careers. The new Trades & Technology Leadership degree program takes existing trades or technology qualifications and integrates previous practical experience with studies in leadership and management skills.

Certified tradespeople and technologists can transfer up to 50 per cent of their credits toward the new degree and gain the business and leadership knowledge they need for management and other advanced positions.

Delivered primarily on-line, this unique program is a first of its kind in Canada and includes credit for previous trades/technology education and expertise, flexibility and accessibility for working persons and elective courses that suit the individual’s particular needs

For more information:


New West Partnership premiers to harmonize apprenticeship initiatives across the West

With 13 apprentice systems in Canada, it is encouraging to see Western Premiers take steps to address the cross jurisdictional challenges apprentice’s face. Allowing skilled trades apprentices to move across provinces without having to retrain is advantageous not only for the apprentice but also for employers who operate in multiple jurisdictions.

This move is also a step in the right direction when it comes to dealing with a looming skilled labour shortage. With the expected resource boom in B.C., there will be more jobs and not enough skilled workers to fill them. British Columbians should be first in line for those jobs, but when we need more workers; our industry is going to look to our neighbours in Alberta and Saskatchewan next. Alberta and Saskatchewan will do the same.

This decision removes barriers and makes it easier for western provinces to share resources.


Canada Jobs Grant good news for B.C.

Having foresight and the fortitude to plan for the decade ahead is not an easy feat.  Minister Bond’s deserves credit for sticking up for B.C. on the Canada Jobs Grant file and for tackling the skills training challenge that looms.

The Canada Jobs Fund and Canada Jobs Grant agreement in principle is good news for British Columbians. The agreement means there is a $65 million pot of money that the province will invest in skills training through the Canada Jobs Fund. It also means that the new job grant will provide up to $15,000 per person for training costs.  Businesses with a plan to train British Columbians for an existing job or a better job will be eligible to apply for a Canada Job Grant.  Most importantly, it will help workers get the skills they need and put skills training decisions in the hands of employers.

There is no easy solution to resolving the skills training shortage and there are challenges ahead. It is a shared responsibility between government and industry, and government is doing its share with limited and scarce resources.

What is most evident is Minister Bond is leaving no stone unturned and taking necessary steps to ensure  we have a trained workforce with the skills to meet our labour demands today and tomorrow.

With the major resource and infrastructure projects pending including LNG, they are steadfastly determined to ensuring that British Columbians are first in line for those jobs.

Federal decision on New Prosperity Mine hurts B.C.

Rejecting Taseko’s proposed New Prosperity mine comes as a surprise and is huge blow to the future of B.C.’s economy and for the Williams Lake community.  Because of the federal government’s decision, 1200 construction workers will not have jobs and 500 British Columbians will not benefit from permanent jobs. It means losing $730 million in added provincial and federal revenue during its operating life.

One of our competitive advantages is our ability to harness the power of our vast natural resource sector responsibly. We have been doing so for decades. In B.C., the sustainable environmental practices of mining are a global beacon of good practice and we are the world’s leading centre of expertise for mineral exploration.

When the world is watching, the decision to reject the New Prosperity mine sends the wrong message. Our province is focused on getting a foothold in emerging markets and attracting new investment so that the private sector can create stable, well-paying jobs for British Columbians.  Jobs in communities like Williams Lake where they are looking to grow and to keep families close to home.

A recent edition of our Construction Monitor explores the benefits of the New Prosperity mine and what it means to B.C.’s future.

CEO Breakfast Focused on LNG and the Economy

Minister Rich Coleman addresses packed room at ICBA's 17th annual CEO Breakfast
Minister Rich Coleman addresses packed room at ICBA’s 17th annual CEO Breakfast

With more than 200 construction industry leaders and representatives, it was a crowded room at ICBA’s 17th annual CEO breakfast. This year’s keynote speakers included Deputy Premier and Minister of Natural Gas Development, Rich Coleman and BCBC’s Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, Jock Finlayson.

The plans for a new liquefied natural gas industry are taking shape. It was clear from Minister Coleman’s remarks there is real momentum and B.C. can emerge as a leader in this industry. So far,12 proponents are interested in building LNG plants and final investment decisions are expected this year. If three of these multibillion-dollar LNG plants are up and running by 2020, that could result in thousands of construction jobs. This bodes well for our industry.

BC Utility Commission decision favours competition

ICBA along with the Mechanical Contractors Association of B.C., HRAI and Ameresco formed the Coalition for Open Competition and came forward to oppose Fortis BC’s attempts to broaden their gas distribution monopoly and compete unfairly in the heating and air conditioning market. The Coalition’s voice was heard.

The BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) came down firmly on the side of competition. They rejected Fortis BC’s application to expand its business into mechanical contracting. Fortis BC’s application would allow their work  to be regulated by guaranteed pricing. This would extend their monopoly and hurt the small businesses in this market. Read more

Construction industry’s changing role is vital for prosperity in B.C.

As we move into 2014, the future of British Columbia’s construction industry is looking bright.

With massive resource projects on the horizon and a recently re-elected provincial government that wants to harness the power of these projects to drive economic prosperity for all, thousands of new jobs will be created.

One example is the rapidly growing Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) industry. As of today, there are 12 projects in various stages of development. They are some of the largest projects in our province’s history. Just one, the Pacific NorthWest LNG project, is larger than the proposed Keystone Pipeline expansion in the United States. Read more