VRCA emailed all members today outlining the organization’s concerns about B.C.’s Community Benefits Agreement announced last week. The email read:

Dear Member,

As the voice of the Lower Mainland’s industrial, commercial and institutional construction industry, VRCA advocates on behalf of all its members – both union and non-union – for fair, open and transparent procurement practices.

This principled approach to procurement practices is at risk following the B.C. government’s July 16 announcement of a new agreement for key public-sector infrastructure projects that will include the Pattullo Bridge and the widening of the Trans-Canada Highway between Kamloops and Alberta. Premier Horgan promises the Community Benefits Agreement will deliver good-paying jobs, better training and apprenticeships, and more trades opportunities for Indigenous peoples, women and youth around the province.

However, the announcement did not reference that the Agreement comes with a union-labour component that is prescriptive and regressive. Further, the details of the labour agreements, including the definition of “key infrastructure projects” and whether it will extend to schools and hospitals, have yet to be released.

On July 18, VRCA issued a statement opposing the government’s Community Benefits Agreement on the basis that it will:

  • result in local companies facing potential barriers to participate in key public-sector infrastructure projects in B.C.;
  • result in out-of-province companies building B.C.’s infrastructure and returning the economic benefit to their respective jurisdictions; and
  • exacerbate an already tight labour market that needs all the skilled workers it can find

All of the above concerns will increase the cost of construction, which will ultimately be paid for with taxpayers’ dollars.

VRCA is actively monitoring this issue knowing there is more information to come. We will be calling on government to release full details in short order and will comment further when the details are known.

Fiona Famulak

VRCA is developing an advocacy section on its webesite where members can go for updates on the issues we’re following and actions we’ve taken. Members can also watch this space for industry news and information, including advocacy updates.