B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson (Hansard TV)

GUEST COLUMN: B.C.’s union-only construction plan doesn’t benefit communities

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson calls it payoff to NDP supporters

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson submitted this commentary on the NDP government’s new policy for public construction. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena responds here. Special to Black Press.

In mid-summer, Premier John Horgan proudly introduced a policy that may go down in history as the worst and most damaging idea ever proposed by a B.C. government.

The NDP’s so-called “Community Benefits Agreement” will bring zero benefits to communities, or to workers. We are calling it their Union Benefits Agreement (UBA). This is because the agreement is nothing more than a blatant payoff to the NDP’s biggest political supporters: the bosses of big union organizations. It’s a taxpayer-funded gift to these union bosses who have donated over $2 million to the NDP since 2005.

This is bad news for workers, especially those just starting out. The pay mandated under this agreement is actually below minimum wage for some skilled tradesworkers. For others, the extra few dollars they’ll make will get taken straight out of their pockets for union dues. In fact, the agreement says that taxpayer funds will get funneled directly to the NDP’s supporters: just one example is the 25 cents per person-hour on the Pattullo Bridge replacement project that is earmarked solely for “union administration”.

Eighty-five per cent of our construction workforce is non-union by choice. The NDP is now forcing those workers to join a union if they want to work on a major public project. Not just any unions, mind you. Workers will be asked to choose from a list of 19 approved unions. To no one’s surprise, all 19 are major NDP donors.

The NDP is also limiting opportunity by geography. Perhaps you’d like to work on the Pattullo Bridge project, but you happen to live in the Okanagan, or on Vancouver Island. You’re out of luck. The NDP has limited hiring to a 100km radius of the project.

This is an appalling violation of our freedoms. I believe that if British Columbians are paying for the project, they should be able to work on it, regardless of which town they live in or whether they choose to be in a union or not.

This deal is going to cost all of us. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) estimates UBAs will add as much as $4.8 billion to the cost of public projects. That’s $4,000 per B.C. family so the NDP can reward their friends. British Columbians cannot afford this union payoff.

With these Union Benefits Agreements, the NDP is taking us backwards. This is a radical policy from an activist government, and we’ll fight it every step of the way.

As Official Opposition, we’ll be holding this government to account, day after day, on behalf of all British Columbians.

Whether they’re unionized or not.

Just Posted

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

More Kootenay names shared with other places

You’ll find a Trail in Minnesota, a Warfield in England, and a Christina Lake in Alberta

Trail wildlife advocate honoured with Conservation Leadership Award

Rob Frew selected as KCP’S 2018 Conservation Leadership Award for the WK

Trail pot retailers facing costlier licences

Business licences for NMC retailers may cost 10 times more than “traditional” retail licences

Colourful Kootenay quilts

Tuesday Morning Quilters donate all proceeds back into various local charities

Singer k.d. lang receives Alberta’s highest honour

Celebrated singer-songwriter k.d. lang received the Alberta Order of Excellence in Edmonton

B.C. tickets win big in Lotto Max draw

Jackpot carried over; B.C. tickets share Max Millions prizes

‘Mom, I’m in trouble:’ Canadian faces 10 years for alleged graffiti

Brittney Schneider, another tourist caught spraying message on walls of Tha Pae Gate in Thailand

Feds consulting on national anti-racism strategy behind closed doors

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says people still face systemic racism in some communities

Enbridge aims for mid-November to finish B.C. pipeline repair after blast

A natural gas pipeline that ruptured and burned near Prince George caused an explosion and fireball

How to get government cheques if Canada Post staff go on strike

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers said members could go on rotating strikes as early as Monday

Anti-SOGI school trustee files defamation lawsuit against BCTF president

Barry Neufeld says Glen Hansman’s words caused him “indignity,” “personal harassment,” and “anxiety”

Ocean ‘blob’ returns to B.C.’s North Coast

A 2,000 kilometre patch of warm ocean water could signal a warm winter in Prince Rupert

Most Read