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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. premier talks forestry, service needs with handful of northern mayors in Prince George

Prince George meeting completes premier’s tour of Kitimat, Terrace, Fort St. James and Quesnel

Quesnel Film Club’s next screening is award-winning Antigone

The Québécois film will be shown Thursday, Jan. 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the Carib Theatre

PHOTOS: Roos go 1-1 over the weekend

Roos dominated the River Kings 8-3 on Saturday and lost a 4-3 heartbreaker to the Rampage on Sunday

Ulkatcho, Lhoosk’uz Dené sign agreements in support of Blackwater Mine project

Agreements commit to share portion of provincial mineral tax revenue collected from planned mine

B.C. Premier calls Quesnel a ‘hub of innovation’ in face of forestry downturn

Premier John Horgan tours Forestry Innovation Centre and meets with mayor, community representatives

Anti-pipeline protests in support of Wet’suwet’en continue at B.C. government buildings

‘We are unarmed, they have guns,’ protesters chanted on Wednesday morning

Horgan unveils B.C. cabinet shuffle changes

Premier John Horgan has made three major changes to his cabinet

Dog reunited with Tofino owner, months after being taken from beach

Shannon Boothman ‘ecstatic’ at pet’s return after a tip leads to social media search

B.C.’s first ride-hailing app to launch in Tofino, Whistler in February

The Whistle! app will be available in Tofino on Feb.1 and in Whistler Feb. 6.

Councillor resigns in Revelstoke after colleagues approved 67% raise

Council approved a 134 per cent raise for the mayor of Revelstoke

Rolled-over dairy truck in Abbotsford lost 40,000 litres of milk

Truck removed Sunday, Jan. 19, with specialized equipment to upright vehicle

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ when screening for coronavirus

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

Most Read