May 2020 - ICBA

OP/ED: From flattening the COVID-19 curve to Team B.C. recovery

ICBA president Chris Gardner joined seven other key B.C. business groups to pen this joint op-ed:

British Columbia has done a good job of flattening the curve in the ongoing fight against COVID-19 through the leadership of the provincial government and public health professionals, and because British Columbians have done their part.

This Team B.C. approach has worked to help protect the health of British Columbians. We now need to apply this same approach to advancing economic recovery safely.

As organizations representing employers big and small in communities throughout our province, we agree with the government and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry that a safe and phased return to work is the best path forward. We believe it is possible.

It’s now time for government and public health agencies to map out a phased plan to safely get British Columbians back to work. Working in partnership, it’s time for businesses across the province to do the same. In doing so, we all need to double-down on our pledge to keep workers and communities healthy as the number one priority. But, with thousands of people out of work and over a third of businesses saying their survival is in doubt – all of us need to take up the challenge and responsibility of economic recovery with the same sense of urgency and spirit of cooperation employed to attack the public health crisis.

BC businesses are committed to making sure we get it right. As we look to the short, medium and long-term re-opening of BC’s economic sectors – from small shops and restaurants, to construction, mines, pulp mills and energy projects – we will continue to build on the robust health and safety measures we have already put in place and will follow further Provincial Health Officer guidance. We will do so transparently and will communicate what measures we are taking to keep workers and the public safe every step along the way. We owe that to our employees, front-line workers and all British Columbians who have sacrificed so much to get us to where we are now. We also owe it to those who have lost their livelihoods and look to a brighter day ahead.

That day can, and will, come. Powering up B.C.’s main economic engines from professional services, to natural resources, construction, transportation, agri-food and accommodation – in a thoughtful and measured way – is the surest path to addressing unemployment, minimizing permanent business closures, and restoring revenues so the government can continue to deliver the services British Columbians count on.

Through this unprecedented crisis, British Columbians have rolled up their sleeves and shown we are serious about our collective responsibility to keep our families, friends and colleagues healthy. We have shown it can be done. In true Team B.C. spirit, we can do it again and seize the opportunity to ensure a safe economic recovery that leads to a brighter future.

  • Chris Gardner, President, Independent Contractors and Businesses Association
  • Val Litwin, President and CEO, B.C. Chamber of Commerce
  • Susan Yurkovich, President and CEO, B.C. Council of Forest Industries
  • Laura Jones, Chief Strategy Officer, Canadian Federation of Independent Business
  • Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO, Business Council of B.C.
  • Bridgitte Anderson, President and CEO, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade
  • Michael Goehring, President and CEO, Mining Association of B.C.
  • Bryan Cox, President & CEO, B.C. LNG Alliance

ICBA NEWS: Factum Filed in PLA Appeal

Yesterday, the legal team for ICBA and several other associations, employers, workers and two progressive unions, filed a factum with the BC Court of Appeal making the case to overturn a BC Supreme Court decision on the Horgan Government’s so-called “Community Benefits Agreements.”

ICBA and others are challenging the Transportation Minister’s ability to discriminate against 85% of B.C.’s construction workforce by creating the NDP government’s labour framework for the sole purpose of benefitting its Building Trades Union (BTU) supporters.

Earlier this year, a judge ruled that the government-appointed Labour Relations Board should deal with the industry’s concerns. But ICBA’s legal team argues otherwise in this factum: “There are no labour relations issues under the Labour Relations Code that need to be adjudicated,” it says. “The issue is solely whether the Minister reasonably exercised her statutory authority under theTransportation Act, which comes within the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts in our constitutional system.”

ICBA is simply asking for a fair shot at government-tendered work for its members and the hundreds of thousands of men and women they employe. The BC Court of Appeal is expected to hear the case in the coming months.

Read the full factum HERE.

#BCPOLI Hotstove: The Real Wild West

Jordan and Maclean talk about the Wild West of Political Payouts (Brad West, that is), why government shouldn’t sign the deal with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, union monopolies, Victoria silliness and more very normal non-COVID politics.

ICBA IN THE NEWS: B.C. construction leaders back federal COVID-19 infrastructure stream

From the Journal of Commerce on May 14, 2020:

Western Canadian construction leaders are reacting positively to a new COVID-19-focused funding stream for federal infrastructure programs.

Federal Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna recently alluded to the fact the government will most likely set aside up to 10 per cent of the $33.5-billion Investing In Canada program to fast-track eligible projects such as health facilities, schools and recreational facilities that allow for social distancing such as parks and trails. Projects must be completed by the end of the 2021 construction season.

Independent Contractors and Businesses Association president Chris Gardner said there are several areas the government can focus on to accelerate economic recovery.

“There are obvious places to look where the federal government can lead and work with the province and municipalities. Our ports such as the Port of Vancouver, Port of Prince Rupert and other ports around B.C., and our airports, which need to be upgraded,” Gardner said, pointing to hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in Vancouver International Airport put on hold once it could no longer generate fees from airlines and other revenue streams.

Gardner also pointed to smaller but equally important infrastructure projects across the province as a good way to get B.C. workers back on the job.

“When governments tender a project, there’s a sweet spot where you get the greatest number of companies participating in Requests for Proposals in the range of $50 million to $100 million. We shouldn’t be pausing on those projects, we should be accelerating them so contractors across the province can bid on these projects and keep money and jobs here,” he said.

“The federal government should also work with provinces on infrastructure projects they already have. The Broadway Skytrain expansion and the Surrey Skytrain out to Langley, those are in the planning process, so let’s accelerate that and get those dollars flowing.”

During the last financial crisis in 2008 there was an emphasis on finding “shovel-ready” projects, Gardner said, but “what we learned is shovel-ready projects weren’t ready and it took time to start them.”

“Money has to flow quickly,” Gardner said.