We offer sincere congratulations to Premier John Horgan and his government for the speech from the throne, which builds on earlier commitments to make life more affordable to working families in B.C.
We are particularly encouraged by the government’s pledge to ensure public infrastructure projects like the Pattullo Bridge replacement and new schools, hospitals and roads also generate benefits and opportunities for B.C. workers—benefits that include good jobs, skills training and apprenticeships. After 16 years of neglect, this commitment is long overdue. Public infrastructure projects can and should offer a lasting legacy of experience, skills training, and employability among the very workers who are building our province.
In the same vein, we further welcome updated procurement policies that will allow small B.C. businesses previously shut out of large-scale government contracts the chance to compete for and win these contracts, and thus create jobs and opportunities for qualified, local B.C. workers.
We are also buoyed by the government’s previously announced review of the B.C. Labour Code, with the view to making B.C. the safest place in Canada in which to work. We look forward to realizing better protection for workers, stronger compliance and enforcement, and fair and balanced treatment of workers and employers.
And finally, we support the government’s continuing efforts to address the lack of affordable, licensed child care in B.C. Build TogetHER BC, the women’s committee of the BC Building Trades, was established to increase the number of women in the trades through advocacy, training and mentorship. It naturally follows that we support ways to reduce barriers to women entering the trades, and this province’s lack of safe, affordable and accessible child care is surely a barrier. Women represent only four per cent of the construction trade workforce.
The fact is, B.C. and the rest of Canada are facing a skilled trades shortage. BuildForce Canada estimates as many as 277,000 new construction workers will be needed this decade. Therefore, the steps outlined in today’s throne speech to ensure worker safety, opportunity, skills training, and employability, and to make child care more affordable and accessible will benefit all British Columbians.