Dispelling the Misinformation About CBAs

Since the B.C. Government's announcement around Community Benefit Agreements on July 16 there has been a lot of misinformation spread around. Let's separate some of the myths from facts.

Myth: BC Building Trades unions only represent 15% of the industry.

Fact: There are 69,000 non-residential construction workers in British Columbia according to Build Force Canada’s 2018 Construction Outlook. The BC Building Trades is the largest supplier of labour in the province of British Columbia. With over 40,000 members, we actually represent 58% of the non-residential construction sector. Community Benefits Agreements only cover non-residential construction projects.

Myth: The Project Labour Agreement used on the Vancouver Island Hwy Project increased costs.

Fact: Some are quick to cite but never produce a copy of a Vancouver Board of Trade study from 1994, which projected cost overruns before the project had even meaningfully started. In fact, the Island Highway, which started in 1994 and finished in 2000, came in under the projected cost estimate. This estimate was made in 1993 by the Ministry of Transportation and Highways before a Project Labour Agreement with the Building Trades was even contemplated. Further, a BC Auditor General report found the VIHP was “good value for money spent”.

Myth: A Community Benefits Agreement will restrict the number of bidders on the projects.

Fact: Project agreements historically increase the number of bidders on projects because contractors have a level playing field. During the Vancouver Island Highway project, competition increased from an average of 3.7 bids on traditional tendering to over 6 bids on VIHP.

Myth: Only unionized contractors can bid on the project.

Fact: All contractors are welcome to bid on the project and bring their core team.

Myth: Only BC Building Trades workers can work on the project under the Community Benefits Agreement.

Fact: All qualified workers will be given opportunity to be hired on the project. Starting with local, Indigenous and under-represented groups. Once on the project, all workers will temporarily become members of a union for the duration of the project. They will receive union wages, union benefits and access to union training, safety programs and grievance servicing.

Myth: The low-bid model used by the BC Liberals provided better value for government money.

Fact: Multiple projects constructed under the low-bid model ran over budget:

  • The B.C. portion of the Evergreen line was budgeted at $410 million; final cost was $586 million, representing a 43% increase.
  • South Fraser Perimeter Road was budgeted at $635 million; final cost to us was $899 million, representing a 42% increase.
  • Vancouver Convention Centre was budgeted at $495 million; final cost to us was $841 million, representing a whopping 70% increase.
  • Port Mann Bridge was budgeted at $2.3398 billion; final cost to us was $3.3 billion, representing a 41% increase.

For more information visit