April 2022 - ICBA

IN THE NEWS: A perfect storm of labour and cost challenges (ICBA CEO Breakfast)

The following first appeared in Construction Business magazine on March 30, 2022.

An acute labour shortage, cost increases, supply chain challenges and mental health are all top issues for the B.C. construction sector in 2022.

“Competition for talent is intense,” said Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) president Chris Gardner during the annual CEO Breakfast at Buildex Vancouver 2022. “Prices for materials are at historic levels. Everything is more expensive. We’re in a perfect storm of labour shortage and input costs.”

According to ICBA’s annual survey, the majority of member companies expect 2022 to be as busy or busier than 2021. Nearly 56 per cent said they will do more work this year which will compound the labour shortage challenge, said Gardner.

“There are only two ways to really deal with the labour shortage. Technology – so being more productive, doing more with less and immigration,” he said.

Gardner went on to emphasize how red tape and regulations continue to delay projects and cripple Canada’s competitiveness. “It’s very difficult to do business in this country and in this province. When it comes to infrastructure, we’re astonishingly short sighted. We simply take too long to build critical pieces of infrastructure.”

Canada ranks 64th globally for how long it takes to process a construction permit according to the World Bank, which Gardner called “embarrassing.” Because the result is: businesses and investors take their ideas, their people, and their capital elsewhere. It is felt acutely when it comes to housing permits at city halls.

“Why does it take as long to approve a permit as it does to build it? It doesn’t make any sense,” he said.

Workplace wellness came up for the first time in the annual survey. Gardner said the association saw a gap in the marketplace to help construction contractors and employees specifically and rolled out its free Workplace Wellness Program last year to address concerns in the industry.

He explained ICBA consulted with contractors, construction workers, and wellness experts to develop a workplace wellness program that focuses on the construction worker. Everything is designed for the unique challenges and pressures of construction.

For 2022, ICBA has taken another step by partnering with former Canucks goaltender and mental health advocate Corey Hirsch for speaking tours around the province to “normalize the conversation” about mental wellness..

Rennie Group president Greg Zayadi and vice president of intelligence Andrew Ramlo were guest speakers at the breakfast and shared similar insights on the tight labour market and construction costs as well as immigration and impacts on the real estate market.

Zayadi said he gets regular calls from companies looking for “talent at every level” so it’s not just construction that’s feeling the pinch. He also noted skyrocketing construction pricing is causing developers to hesitate about taking projects to market. The dramatic construction increase in Metro Vancouver is the single biggest unknown proformas for developers.

“The construction number is now the largest number in that proforma,” said Zayadi.

Join Our Team at ICBA Benefits

ICBA Benefits has offices in Surrey, B.C., Prince George, B.C., and Calgary, Alberta, and employs some of the best people in the industry. For more than 35 years, ICBA Benefits has been providing superior employee benefits and services to our members. We believe that you’ll find ICBA Benefits an exciting place to be and one where new ideas and new opportunities come together. You’ll find that we value dedication, determination, teamwork, and a sense of humour. We are currently hiring for the following positions: 

Client Operations Specialist

Surrey, BC

As Client Operations Specialist for ICBA Benefits, you will be supporting one of the largest Third Party Administrators in Canada, and will be responsible for a variety of key functions including: onboarding new clients, assisting clients with Short and Long-Term Disability and Life Insurance claims ensuring all required paperwork is received within time limits, reporting service levels for the organization, andperforming complex mail-merges for mass communications. All these duties involve uncompromising service levels and deadlines, and require a high degree of accuracy, and an innate adeptness with systems, applications and data. Click here to download more information, apply through the job post on indeed.com, or submit your resume and cover letter to Jenny Ma, Office Manager, at hr@icbabenefits.ca.

Client Service Representative

Surrey, BC

As a Client Service Representative for ICBA Benefit Services Ltd., you are responsible for delivering exceptional service to our clients and agents. You will be responding to inquiries about benefit coverage (what’s covered on the plan, who is eligible for coverage, etc.), explaining payments for Health and Dental claims, providing instructions to clients about how to administer their plan and submit claims, and resolving customer problems. You will also coordinate long term disability claim submissions, and process enrolments. Click here to download more information, apply through the job post on indeed.com, or submit your resume and cover letter to Jenny Ma, Office Manager, at hr@icbabenefits.ca.

Hour Bank – Client Service Representative

Surrey, BC

As a Client Service Representative for ICBA Benefits, you will be supporting one of the largest Hour Bank Plans in Canada (CIBP) and will be responsible for delivering exceptional service to our clients and agents. You will be responding to inquiries about benefit coverage (what’s covered on the plan, who is eligible for coverage, etc.), explaining payments for Health and Dental claims, providing instructions to clients abouthow to administer their plan and submit claims, and resolving customer problems. 25% of this role is spent on the phone, with the remaining portion of your day being spent responding to email inquiries and troubleshooting customer issues. Click here to download more information, apply through the job post on indeed.com, or submit your resume and cover letter to Jenny Ma, Office Manager, at hr@icbabenefits.ca.


Account Manager – Alberta

Calgary, BC

As an Account Manager for ICBA Benefit Services Ltd., you will report to the Vice President, Account Management. This position is a customer-facing role in which you will be front and centre servicing a block of ICBA Benefits clients across Alberta. You will proactively provide an exceptional customer experience following a defined service protocol, on-board new clients, lead on-site employee meetings, and deliver yearly group health benefit plan renewals. Click here to download more information, apply through the job post on indeed.com, or submit your resume and cover letter to Jenny Ma, Office Manager, at hr@icbabenefits.ca.


#BCPOLI HOTSTOVE: By-Election Fever Returns to BC

It’s by-election SZN as Vancouver Quiulchena heads to the polls April 30 (Can anyone stop Kevin Falcon?) and Surrey South MLA Stephanie Cadieux is resigning to head to a federal appointment as Canada’s first Chief Accessibility Officer (Is that Dianne Watts’ music we hear?). ICBA’s Jordan Bateman and TheOrca.ca’s Maclean Kay break it down, plus opioids, bills about nothing, the CPC leadership race, and more.

WELLNESS WEDNESDAY #43: Pain Avoidance and Addiction

Each week, ICBA’s Jordan Bateman reflects on what we’ve learned as we participate in ICBA’s Workplace Wellness Program. This program is free for all ICBA members – check out icba.ca/wellness for details.

Growing up in the 1980s, alcoholism and drug addiction were unfamiliar topics for me. School visits from well-meaning DARE volunteers, the Reagan “War on Drugs”, “This is your brain on crack” fried egg commercial: this shaped my views on addiction. I was taught addiction was a moral failing or a sign of a weak character.

That simply is not true.

There are all sorts of reasons why and how people become addicted, but it often comes down to managing or avoiding pain. As we’re learning in this week’s Wellness reading, there are genetic factors that predispose certain people to the addictive properties of drugs, and rough family environments can also up the likelihood of addiction. Then there are mental health issues, and the need for coping mechanisms.

Five years ago, I had a bad leg injury and the hospital doctors and surgeons gave me morphine and fentanyl for the pain. Those drugs felt good – and they’re supposed to! I can totally understand why people use and abuse painkillers, especially if they are in physical or emotional pain.

Using them can turn into addiction quickly. I was fortunate; my leg healed, the pain subsided, and I didn’t need the medication after I left the hospital. But I can understand the desperation that injured people might feel.

The Canadian Mental Health Association says approximately 21% of Canadians (about 6 million people) will meet the criteria for addiction in their lifetime.

If you’re needing help with an addiction today, please call the 24-hour B.C. Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service toll-free from anywhere in B.C. at 1-800-663-1441.

ICBA’s Workplace Wellness Program is helping more than 50 companies, and thousands of construction professionals, better understand mental health. The program is free for ICBA members — see icba.ca/wellness.

ICBA NEWS RELEASE – NDP Stripping Workers of Democratic Rights

The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) condemned the NDP Government’s announcement today that they will strip workers of the democratic right to a secret ballot in union certification votes.

NDP Labour Minister Harry Bains announced this afternoon that he intends to amend the Labour Relations Code to scrap the secret ballot – the fair and democratic way in which workers decide how to organize themselves. Instead, Bains will institute card check, a system that exposes workers to coercion and pressure.

“The secret ballot is a fundamental democratic right and the NDP have just ripped it away from every worker in this province,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA President. “Not only is the secret ballot the cornerstone of our democracy, but without it, certification votes are open to all sorts of abuse.”

In scrapping the secret ballot, the NDP Government is ignoring its own Labour Relations Code Review Panel, which found in 2018 that: “The secret ballot vote is the most consistent with our democratic norms, protects the fundamental right of freedom of association and choice, and is preferred.”

“The secret ballot is the best method to conduct union certification votes, because it allows both sides to present their case, and the process is carefully monitored for fairness by the independent Labour Relations Board,” said Gardner. “What the NDP has done today is heavily tilt the playing field – this is nothing more than a special deal for special interests at the expense of a worker’s right to make their own decision and express it freely and privately through a secret ballot.”

Secret ballots for union certification are the norm in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland – and most Ontario cases. For 30 of the past 38 years, B.C. has operated under the secret ballot system.

“We don’t choose our Prime Ministers, Premiers, Mayors, or the winners of Canadian Idol for that matter, by a show of hands – we give every citizen the right to express their choice freely in the privacy of a voting booth,” said Gardner. “The right to privacy and a fair process governs almost everything we vote for. Taking away the secret ballot is a major step backwards for B.C., an attack on our democracy, and an erosion of a hard won worker’s right.”

For a full backgrounder on how the NDP’s card check plan erodes workers’ rights, and why the secret ballot is so important to the certification process, click HERE.

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ICBA represents more than 3,500 members and client companies in construction and responsible resource development, directly trains more than 5,000 workers every year, and is the single largest sponsor of trades apprentices in B.C. ICBA is also one of the leading third-party providers of group health and retirement benefits in Canada, with more than 125,000 people relying on an ICBA Benefits plan. Approximately 10 per cent of ICBA’s membership employ a unionized workforce. icba.ca

TRAINING THURSDAY: Secret Ballot Scrapped + Permeable Pavement

Kerry and Jordan convene to talk about the NDP Government’s plan to strip workers of their democratic right to a secret ballot in union certification votes — and the next course in our Pavement Series.

ICBA Townhall: Understanding Card Check Organizing (Online)
Free; Thursday, April 14, 2022; 10AM

Introduction to Permeable Pavements (Webinar)
Thursday, April 21, 2022; 1-2:30PM
Missed this one? Check out www.icba.ca/courses

Storm water management is a key component of urban infrastructure design. Numerous agencies throughout the United States and Canada include permeable pavements as a key component of best management practices for stormwater management.

If properly designed and constructed, permeable pavements can help rainwater infiltrate soil, decrease urban heating, replenish groundwater and reduce overall storm water runoff. The construction of permeable pavement systems that can accommodate surface water runoff is gaining increasing attention through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

This webinar provides background on the key features of permeable asphalt, concrete and interlocking concrete block pavements along with guidance, design tools and methodologies to assist in designing pavements to accommodate hydrological and structural pavement design for municipal and parking area permeable pavements and compare equivalent structural designs. The learning objectives for this webinar include:

  • Understand the key input parameters for the successful design of permeable asphalt, concrete and interlocking concrete block pavements.
  • Ability to design a permeable pavement for both structural and hydrologic capacity.
  • Recognize good maintenance practices for permeable pavements
  • Utilize previously impervious infrastructure to reduce the impact of peak stormwater runoff and improve stormwater quality.

Instructor: David Hein is a consulting Civil Engineer with over 35 years of experience in the design, evaluation and management of pavement infrastructure.

SECRET BALLOT: Union Makes the Case Against Card Check

Why are we so adamant about protecting the secret ballot? Because even the unions themselves admit there is coercion and mistruths used to get cards signed. 🚩 🚩 🚩 🚩 From LiUNA:
“A representative of a rival union… will show up at your work site and beg or encourage you to sign a card for their union. In fact they will be desperate to get you to sign. They will make all kinds of false promises and misrepresent the facts.”
“Don’t sign anything! You do not have to sign anything. Don’t be tricked into signing something ‘to get more information’ or fall for ‘a card needs to be signed for Local 183’. We don’t need you to sign anything. It’s just a sneaky way to get a member to sign a card…”
Secret ballots remove that intimidation and allows workers to thoughtfully, carefully and confidentially make their decision.

IN THE NEWS: ICBA on the 2022-23 Federal Budget

The following first appeared in the Journal of Commerce on April 11, 2022:

Jordan Bateman, vice-president of communications and marketing for the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) in B.C., said new supports for mobile workers are a good step but other parts of the budget are cause for concern.

“This is obviously good news for workers who are travelling to build things, especially for projects like the Coastal Gaslink pipeline and Site C which are in remote areas,” said Bateman.

However, he said the budget’s $84.2 million for the Union Training and Innovation Program raised his eyebrows.

The funds would go towards helping 3,500 apprentices from underrepresented groups such as women, newcomers, people with disabilities, Indigenous people, and Black and racialized Canadians begin careers in the skilled trades through mentorship, career services and job-matching. While Bateman said the goal of increasing diversity is noble, the vast majority of the industry wouldn’t be eligible. He said 82 per cent of apprentices in B.C. are not unionized.

“It comes to $25,000 a pop,” he said. “That is a lot of government investment in unionized apprentices. Especially when the open shop sector can do that for pennies on the dollar.”

Bateman added the entire budget creates a significant hole in Canada’s fiscal framework that could have repercussions down the road.

“In the mid-1990s, (Jean) Chrétien had to reset the fiscal framework, cut programs and download programs,” said Bateman. “Someday that reckoning is coming for Canada.”

On housing, Bateman said the government has done little to cut red tape and unleash the private sector.

“Government loves pointing the finger at everyone else, but they need to look in the mirror,” said Bateman. “Trudeau’s government has shown little interest in harnessing the power of the private sector to solve Canadian problems. They seem to believe government is the best solution to everything.”