Published Sept. 26, 2023 at 9:00 a.m.
ICBA (BC & AB) OP-ED: Playing Monopoly with Public Projects and Taxpayer Money
Imagine looking at a provincial policy that increased construction costs, reduced bidders, and cut out 85 per cent of an industry’s workforce from being part of building a project – and thinking, “We should try and emulate that model.”
That’s precisely what the Trudeau Government has done with its proposed Investment Tax Credit (ITC), announced in March as part of the federal budget. While the goal of the ITC is to facilitate investment in major projects, the underlying conditions will hamper and needlessly complicate how proponents approach investments in major projects in Canada.
Published Sept. 26, 2023 at 9:00 a.m.
AB Construction Monitor: Ensuring Plans are Purpose-Built for Today’s Realities
This month, ICBA Alberta rolls out our out standing ICBA Wellness program, dev eloped by our partner association in B.C. This reflects the dynamic nature of the trends influencing health and group benefits, which ICBA provides to more than 150,000 people.
ICBA Wellness addresses mental health, something that used to be largely swept under the rug in our sector. Yet with chal-lenging and demanding work, construction workers can be vulnerable to mental health issues and to troubling substance-use outcomes, while at the same time often being reluctant or even fearful to talk about such issues.
Published May 16, 2023 at 10:25 a.m.
ICBA Alberta Releases Election Edition of the Alberta Construction Monitor
ICBA Alberta has released an election edition of the Alberta Construction Monitor, taking the personalities and politics out of the campaign, and focusing tightly on the two parties’ records in managing the provincial economy, and encouraging fairness, openness and prosperity in the construction and energy sectors.
The right to a secret ballot in union votes, fairness for every company to bid on taxpayer-funded construction projects, cutting red tape, and growing the economy, are four of the metrics the Monitor examines.
To read the election edition of the Alberta Construction Monitor, click HERE.
Published April 11, 2023 at 11:00 a.m.
ICBA Alberta Releases Inaugural Edition of the Alberta Construction Monitor
ICBA Alberta has released the inaugural edition of the Alberta Construction Monitor, a new, quarterly publication providing ahead-of-the-curve information and statistics on the Alberta construction industry and the issues relevant to it.
In the spring edition, statistics show that 1 of every 10 jobs in Alberta is in construction, and the industry contributes 8% of Alberta’s GDP. We also see that 88% of the industry is ‘open-shop’ – not affiliated with a traditional building trades union. ICBA Alberta is proud to advocate for this open shop majority of Alberta’s construction sector.
The Monitor also looks at wages, activity, and other important demographics.
To read the inaugural Alberta Construction Monitor, click HERE.
Published March 23, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.
Op/Ed: Why ICBA Alberta is Fighting Bill C-69
The following op-ed, co-written by ICBA Alberta President Mike Martens and Alberta Enterprise Group President Catherine Brownlee, first ran in the Calgary Herald on March 23, 2023.
Canada’s economy and its future prosperity are in jeopardy, no thanks to the federal Impact Assessment Act or Bill C-69. Even with a global energy crisis and the world pleading for Canada’s responsibly and sustainably produced natural resources, Canada, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), is on track to have the worst performing economy of the G20 over the next ten years. Perhaps this dismal forecast reflects the regulatory uncertainty, increased red tape, and resource opposition codified in Bill C-69. Most disturbingly, as a country, we can no longer make the promise that the next generation will be better off than we are—unless things change significantly.
That is why our organizations – the Alberta Enterprise Group and ICBA Alberta – are in the Supreme Court of Canada, supporting the Government of Alberta and almost all other provinces and territories in their fight against the federal government’s Impact Assessment Act. Canada was already struggling to approve resource development projects before 2019 when the Act came into force; now it is even worse.
This is most apparent in the case of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG). The USA and Canada stood together on the starting line in 2013, both considering how to launch an LNG industry in their respective countries. A decade later, the USA now stands as the largest exporter of LNG in the world, while Canada remains at least two years away from exporting any measurable volume of LNG. In the time Canada took to approve and build one LNG export facility – LNG Canada in Kitimat, B.C. – the United States approved and built sevenLNG export facilities and has five more under construction with an additional fifteen approved.
Canada has done such a thorough job of saying “no” and turning away capital and talent through regulatory uncertainty, red tape, and resource opposition—$150 billion in cancelled energy projects alone since 2017—that two years ago, the World Bank ranked Canada 64th in the world in the time it takes to approve a major construction project. Furthermore, in Canada, in every year since 2014, outbound investment has exceeded inbound investment. This has had a very negative impact on small and medium sized businesses—including our members—who provide goods and services required by major projects.
What precisely is it about the federal Impact Assessment Act that discourages capital investment and resource development?
The federal Impact Assessment Act or Bill C-69 replaced a streamlined National Energy Board with the bureaucratic multi-layered Canada Energy Regulator (CER), and the narrow-scoped Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency with the broad-scoped Impact Assessment Agency. In addition, the Act essentially institutionalizes jurisdictional duplication and red tape. For example, a project may have to go through both a provincial review as well as a federal assessment; time limits for review may be suspended at the discretion of the CER, while stakeholder participation is expanded – meaning one no longer needs to be directly affected by a project or even be in the affected provinces to participate in the process. These changes, along with expanded discretionary practices, makes the major project approval process both vague and uncertain, in terms of the criteria to be applied and the time it will take to get a decision.
Investors can be forgiven for thinking that Canada is focused on entrenching regulatory gridlock with the never-ending demands it places on project proponents. Thus, for investors, the risks are too high and the uncertainty too great; meaning, Canada is a bad prospect for investment.
Canada’s long-term prosperity is at risk if investments are not made today for developing our incredible resources and improving our infrastructure. Of course, investment should not come at the cost of a healthy environment. We believe we can do both. But robust regulations do not have to mean lengthy and uncertain timelines for assessments and project reviews, or unreasonable environmental and social requirements bound by sticky layers of red tape. Indeed, the current Impact Assessment Act puts everything—environment, social, and governance issues—ahead of economic or employment benefits rather than weighing the trade-offs carefully.
If we wish to establish a framework to strengthen Canada’s economy and future prosperity, then we need a better development regulatory process. This would be a process that appropriately balances the care for the environment we all want with the economic and resource development we need within appropriate constitutional boundaries to ensure prosperity now and for the future. That is why this week, we are standing in front of the Supreme Court of Canada, supporting the Government of Alberta and almost all of the other provinces and territories in opposing this legislation.
Published March 9, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.
ICBA Alberta was launched today, with a new president and a suite of services and advocacy initiatives designed to support open shop, merit-based construction.
CALGARY – The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) is expanding in Alberta, and Mike Martens, one of the province’s top advocacy leaders, has been selected to head up ICBA Alberta, ICBA president Chris Gardner announced today.
Building on the growth of its Alberta group health benefits business which has been offering health, dental and retirement plans to contractors and businesses for nearly a decade, ICBA is rolling out a suite of new services for its members in Alberta.
“Founded 48 years ago, ICBA has grown into the country’s largest construction association with more than 4,000 members and clients and 150,000 people on one of our group health benefit plans,” said Gardner. “Today, I’m proud to announce that we are expanding in Alberta and that Mike Martens has joined us to lead the roll-out and growth of the suite of new member services we will be offering to ICBA Alberta members. Mike is a dynamic, respected advocate, and is focused on growing the construction, building, and resource development industries in Alberta.”
Martens was Director of Public Affairs (Western Canada) for the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada for the past eight years. Working out of ICBA’s Calgary office as ICBA Alberta President, Martens will work with the ICBA Alberta team to expand its member service offering in areas related to advocacy, group health benefits, training, and wellness programs designed for Alberta’s open shop contractors, builders, and entrepreneurs.
Some 88 per cent of the more than 220,000 people who work in Alberta construction make up the open shop sector.
“It’s an honour for me to be able to help build on ICBA’s incredible platform in Alberta,” said Martens. “We’re going to be offering some very exciting services to help merit and open shop construction contractors grow, and we’re going to give them a strong voice in public policy advocacy.”
Over the past few years, ICBA has worked to advance several projects important to growing Alberta’s economy:
- Generated thousands of supportive emails through ICBA’s #Get2Yes petition in support of Alberta energy projects
- Offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and charge of the people who attacked the Coastal Gas Link LNG pipeline construction site in northern B.C.
- Produced an international award-winning “Big Gas Pipeline” video that was viewed more than 2 million times on social media
- Intervened in the court challenge to support Alberta’s fight against the Bill C-69
- Intervened in the court challenge against the B.C. Government and supported Alberta’s efforts to get the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion approved
- Wrote op-eds in major Alberta papers supporting the need for Canada to speed up building permits – currently Canada is 64th in how long it takes to approve construction and infrastructure projects
When it comes to federal advocacy, ICBA Alberta is a member of Merit Canada, joining Merit Saskatchewan, Merit Manitoba, Merit Ontario, Merit Nova Scotia and ICBA. Through Merit Canada, this powerful partnership of open shop construction organizations advocates on issues important to open shop contractors in Ottawa.
“Mike and the team at ICBA Alberta will be working to help construction companies grow and support their workers with the best benefits, training and advocacy possible,” said Gardner. “They will be supporting the reduction in unnecessary red tape and the creation the economic conditions necessary to attract investment, build the infrastructure and harness our energy resources in a way that secures our long-term prosperity.”
“I’ve hit the ground running with meetings and introductions, and I can’t wait to share what ICBA Alberta can do to help construction companies,” said Martens. “If you’re a merit-based, open shop construction company doing work in Alberta, send me a note at email@example.com and let’s meet to discuss how our association and our services can help you.”