B.C. Liberals said on Thursday that Premier John Horgan has confirmed that, in the middle of a pandemic with countless British Columbians out of work, jobs on the Broadway Subway project will be limited through the NDP’s Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) scheme to only members of the 19 hand-picked unions that have historically donated to NDP campaigns.
“While this transit expansion is good news for Vancouver, the issue remains that by continuing to utilize union benefits agreements, this NDP government is only giving its short list of pre-approved insider unions the chance to bid on these contracts,” said Marvin Hunt, BC Liberal Transportation Co-Critic. “With so many British Columbians out of work due to COVID-19, it’s outrageous to see the NDP effectively preventing countless British Columbians from gaining meaningful employment while also ensuring project costs go up during an economic slowdown.”
An analysis by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) shows that CBAs could add as much as $4.8 billion more to the cost of public infrastructure projects, which equates to nearly $4,000 for every family in the province. CBAs result in fewer competing bids and higher project costs while freezing out nearly 80 per cent of B.C.’s construction sector, said the B.C. Liberals.
“The Broadway Subway project is yet another example of the NDP’s insiders-only union kickback program, the Community Benefits Agreement, which have added hundreds of million of dollars more to the cost of public projects since its implementation,” said Hunt. “The unions and workers who aren’t on the NDP’s VIP list make up more than 80 per cent of the construction sector, and many of them are currently out of work. During the best of times CBA’s fail to provide for fair and equitable employment, but during COVID-19 and an economic slowdown, shutting these people out is unconscionable. John Horgan and the NDP need to be working for everyone in B.C., not just their friends and donors.”
Due to CBAs, the Illicillewaet and Kicking Horse Canyon highway expansions have seen cost overruns of 143 per cent and 33 per cent respectively, costing taxpayers $200 million more than when those projects were first announced by the BC Liberals. The NDP have also estimated that under their CBA scheme, the Pattullo Bridge expansion will cost a minimum of $100 million additional taxpayer dollars. The provincial deficit announced earlier this week, which stemmed from the NDP’s pre-pandemic taxes and spending, will now grow even greater as a result of additional CBA costs, the B.C. Liberals claimed.