While COVID-19 dominated the headlines throughout 2020, the controversy around the use of Community Benefits Agreements (CBA) for major infrastructure projects in British Columbia continued throughout the year.
In 2018 B.C. Premier John Horgan announced major infrastructure projects would hire workers under a community benefits infrastructure framework where all hires would go through a crown corporation and those working on government infrastructure projects would be required to join a union for the duration their employment with those projects. It also focused on hiring underrepresented groups and hiring local. The open shop construction sector along with independent unions and businesses formed a coalition opposed to CBAs and mounted a legal challenge to the framework which took place from 2018 to 2020.
The coalition faced obstacles as their case was first struck down by the B.C. Supreme Court and then the Court of Appeals. The BC Liberals ran in opposition to the CBA framework during the fall 2020 election campaign but a majority win for Horgan’s NDP means the coalition’s only option outside fighting the policy in the court of public opinion is to take their case to the B.C. Labour Relations Board.
As the world moves into 2021, the Journal of Commerce will cover any further developments between the provincial government and construction stakeholders as the two sides spar over the CBA framework.