Teamsters support B.C.’s new approach to construction work. It gives workers and the community just as much importance as employers and government interests. That is crucial when it comes to projects paid for by our tax dollars.

Last week, the government of British Columbia announced they’re taking a new approach to public-sector construction projects. Under the new framework, government construction contracts will have to take the form of something known as a community benefit agreement.

What is a community benefit agreement (CBA)?

Community benefit agreements in B.C. will ensure that the greatest number of people benefit from a construction project.

That means workers will be paid union wages and enjoy union representation, which will lead to safer work sites and a stronger economy.

That also means apprentices, local residents, indigenous people and women will have priority access to jobs on a construction project, rather than temporary foreign labour.

Finally, contractors will enjoy continuous work thanks to a no-strike clause.

Why are CBAs important?

The first projects to be delivered under the new community benefits framework are the new Pattullo Bridge, and the four-laning projects on the Trans-Canada Highway between B.C. and Alberta.

In an era of stagnant wages and rising inequality, making sure everyone benefits from the billions of dollars spent by governments on construction work has never been more important. Community benefit agreements, like the ones in the new British Colombian framework, will go a long way to make sure local workers can get the good, high-paying jobs that are the foundation of our economy.

Moreover, it also tackles another problem facing British Columbia: the severe shortage of skilled labour. One cause of the labour shortage is how difficult it is for apprentices to find job opportunities. B.C.’s new construction framework will go a long way toward helping them find opportunities on government construction projects.

A strong building trades labour force is critical to our future. Canada has big infrastructure challenges ahead of it, be they about fighting climate change, repairing our roads and developing public transportation, or building new ways to get our resources to market.

This new approach will help the province meet its challenges, in a way that benefits all British Columbians.