British Columbia Report – April, 2012

PCA continues to press the BC government to change its current labour law, which provides for a yearly “open-period” for unions. The legislation is an outlier in Canadian labour law and serves more as a conduit of chaos in labour markets than as a union accountability measure. PCA’s Executive Director created a policy paper on the topic which was presented to the BC Standing Committee on Finance. The paper was well received, further distinguishing PCA’s voice in BC.

A functional PCA presence in Victoria has led to numerous opportunities for advocacy. PCA’s presence at government functions and regular interaction with key players in government—such as multiple meetings with cabinet ministers and key staffers including Minister of Labour MacDiarmid and her staff, the Ministers of Transportation and Energy, as well as Premier Clark’s senior advisor, Dimitri Pantazopoulous—have significantly raised PCA’s profile in the province.

We were also able to speak personally with Premier Clark and raise the open period issue with her directly. Our conversations with her confirm that the issue is on the BC Liberals’ agenda. Conversations with the Premier in March also confirmed that the government is willing to move on this issue if they are elected in the 2013 elections.

On that note, though, the divided and tumultuous nature of BC politics creates unique challenges for PCA. The province is notorious for its political swings. The recently-called byelections will be able to give us some picture of the political future in BC, but regardless of their outcomes, it is clear that the province is also full of opportunities. The continued hunger for BC’s natural resources ensures that, notwithstanding the status of the Gateway project, the demand to transport these resources to markets in the US and in Asia will fuel work for the foreseeable future.