BCCA RESPONSE TO BC BUDGET 2024:
We share the Government’s commitment to building housing and infrastructure, but question how realistic this government’s policy strategy really is given workforce shortages and the vulnerable position in which the Government puts BC’s small and medium-sized contractors by failing to enact Prompt Payment Legislation. The 2024 Budget falls short on policies required to meet the needs of the construction industry and get provincial prosperity growing again.
It is unrealistic to think that BC’s construction industry can meet the multi-unit build targets which would improve affordable housing to BC residents while enduring rising material costs, onerous payment delays and severe workforce shortages. Preliminary insight from our 2024 Construction Industry Survey tells us that the Top 3 industry priorities for BC Construction employers are:
- Shortage of Construction Workforce
- Lack of Prompt Payment Legislation/adjudication/Lien Reform
- Permitting and inspection timelines (i.e. municipalities, BC Hydro)
Prompt Payment Legislation: BC is being left behind
BCCA is supportive of the principles underlying the BC Builds program, including the plan to move from rental housing into housing for purchase. Multi-unit build is the key to solving BC’s housing crisis. We are supportive of the strong commitment to large projects, such as hospitals, and other plans to strengthen infrastructure and services of proximity. Our caveat: The housing crisis and other BC building needs cannot be addressed without enactment of Prompt Payment Legislation. It is one thing to fund projects; it’s another thing to ensure there is a healthy construction industry available to build those projects, and to build them efficiently and at a fast pace.
The Finance Minister said it herself in today’s budget announcement: inflation is rampant. Interest rates are high. Small and medium-sized contractors are important to BC’s economy. Yet, their struggles are being ignored. They’re being asked to carry financing over unreasonable periods of time. They’re not being paid in a timely fashion for work they’ve completed. The absence of Prompt Payment Legislation makes these contractors vulnerable and slows the rhythm at which all construction companies are able to operate.
Prompt Payment Legislation has been enacted by the Federal Government as well as by several jurisdictions across Canada, including Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick. Other jurisdictions, like Nova Scotia and Quebec have tabled legislation and are moving towards adoption. British Columbia remains at the exploratory phase, with no indication from Government that it will make this a priority in the coming legislative cycle. We cannot risk seeing contractors and skilled workers leave our province in search of greater security and better opportunities.
Prompt Payment Legislation is a necessity. The failure of this Government to enact Prompt Payment Legislation is unacceptable; it is key to a healthy construction industry in this province.
Workforce priorities: immigration
While moving in the right direction, current immigration targets and strategies are not aggressive enough to meet the workforce needs of BC’s construction industry.
BC’s new Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) priority stream for Trades offers a path to Permanent Residency, but it has mainly been used to transition tradespeople who are here on work permit to Permanent Residency. This is good news for employers and employees alike, as it provides an avenue where none existed prior, That said, it comes with two challenges: it doesn’t bring enough new people from outside of Canada and it is tied to a job offer. Cyclical in nature, construction work and hiring cycles are not aligned with immigration timelines. It is difficult to predict exactly which tradespeople will be needed, when and where. What we do know is that the shortage is very real.
We ask that the Government give nominations based on skills rather than a job offer, much in the way the Federal government did with the category-based draws in August and December 2023, rather than place an unnecessary burden on employers to find and invite skilled tradespeople. We know that there is a general shortage. The industry would benefit from having a greater influx of skilled tradespeople with the flexibility to move from worksite to worksite based on hiring needs, rather than being tied to an employer. Greater efficiency and impact are only possible if the Government moves away both from the Temporary Foreign Worker model and its requirement that immigration be tied to a job offer.
“While there is cause for optimism coming out of today’s budget, a dose of realism is needed when it comes to key issues for BC’s construction industry. We are very concerned that the ongoing absence of Prompt Payment Legislation cripples BC’s construction industry, making it very difficult for us to help deliver the ambitious projects championed by the Eby Government. We need BC to remain competitive, both in terms of Prompt Payment Legislation and immigration policies. Let’s remove the barriers to a healthy and stable construction industry,” says Chris Atchison, President of BCCA.
BCCA Updates & Official Statements
BCCA Response to BC Budget 2024 | February 22, 2024
2023 BC Minimum Wage Recommendation Letter | March 1, 2023
Brick by Brick and Board by Board we are Putting BC’s Contractors into an Unsustainable Financial Position. | February 28, 2023
BCCA Response to BC Budget 2021 | April 20, 2021
BCCA News Releases