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Reducing interprovincial trade barriers a ‘no-brainer,’ says PCA

Russell Hixson
Reducing interprovincial trade barriers a ‘no-brainer,’ says PCA

The Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA) is getting behind the Alberta government’s efforts to reduce interprovincial business barriers.  

Th PCA noted the government’s recent Fair Deal Panel Report, aimed at giving the province a stronger voice within confederation, recommends collaboration with other jurisdictions to reduce trade barriers within Canada. The report also calls for pressure on the federal government to enforce free trade within Canada.

“Interprovincial trade barriers of all kinds drive up construction costs and stand in the way of good, well-paying construction jobs that are essential to Alberta’s recovery and that of Canada as a whole,” said Paul de Jong, president of the PCA in a press release. “Albertans and their provincial neighbours will benefit when the provinces agree to remove artificial barriers in training, credentialing and mobility for skilled labour, as well as exclusionary local hire provisions that add red tape and stifle productivity and opportunity.”

PCA is calling on the Alberta government to prioritize recommendation three and urge neighbouring provinces to follow suit.

“The free movement of goods and people is a no-brainer,” added de Jong. “Alberta can no longer afford barriers and restrictions that hinder economic growth. This is the time to open doors, so that Alberta’s builders can do what they do best: constructing this province’s future and creating good-paying jobs for Albertans.”

The 68-page Fair Deal Panel Report, promised by the UCP government, includes 25 recommendations based on consultations with thousands of Albertans.

Darrel Reid, PCA’s vice-president of public affairs, explained the strain provincial barriers can place in front of the association’s members.

“Things like equalization reform and interprovincial trade are definitely relevant to our members,” he said. “Recently, in Saskatchewan, they enacted a series of local hire provisions which sound benign, but our companies hire local all the time. These exclude companies from bringing in other crews and experts. If you have a company that operates in different provinces, not being able to choose your optimal crew is a problem and it is expensive.”

Reid added that differing labour standards, engineer certifications and different accreditation for skilled trades can also cause headaches.

“These are all unnecessary in our view and highly expensive,” said Reid. “And the people who pay the price at the end are the taxpayer. Reducing interprovincial trade barriers is a no-brainer. Canadians are paying the price and during this time of COVID-19 challenges and a slowing economy, the last thing we need is a heavy regulatory burden.”

Reid attacked B.C.’s Community Benefits Agreements (CBA) policy as a major barrier.

“Premier John Horgan’s exclusionary CBA regime, which basically forces companies to accept a part labour model, is a disincentive for many companies — certainly for those outside the province.”

Reid said the PCA will support the Alberta government on interprovincial trade and will provide subject expertise if needed.

“Anything we can do to push this major file forward,” he said. “We think that Jason Kenney is putting money where his mouth is, and we are going to get behind it as much as we can.”


Follow the author on Twitter @RussellReports.

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