To the Editor:
A recent op-ed suggests B.C.’s so-called Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) “is delivering what it promised and more.”
That sure is a tall claim given the facts.
Back in 2018, the NDP government pledged that its labour framework would give underrepresented groups a better shot at jobs and training opportunities when major public projects are built.
That was a promise broken for a Cowichan Tribes contractor and his workers. They were barred from building the new $1.4 billion Cowichan District Hospital, on their own lands. That’s because the government’s labour framework only allows workers from select unions to build billions of dollars’ worth of public projects.
The incident was such an embarrassment that the government was forced to make a one-off exception, instead of resolving the larger issue.
Another claim is that “CBA costs don’t really present a significant impact on infrastructure budgets.”
What about the Cowichan District Hospital? Its construction costs have ballooned by a whopping 63 per cent over original budget estimates. That’s a significant cost overrun on one project alone.
If B.C.’s restrictive project labour agreement has provided any benefit to B.C. families and communities, where’s the proof? To date, we’ve seen just the opposite: rising costs, more red tape and more restrictions.
During today’s affordability crisis, defending this costly, coercive labour arrangement is an insult to taxpayers. The only way it could be “good for business and good for society” is by getting rid of it.
Paul de Jong
President and CEO
Progressive Contractors Association of Canada