On-Site Magazine

BC United leader talks construction with VRCA

By Adam Freill   

Construction

The Vancouver Regional Construction Association spoke with Kevin Falcon, leader of BC United, for its most recent Constructive Conversations event.

VRCA president Jeannine Martin interviews BC United leader Kevin Falcon during the association’s Constructive Conversations session on June 13. (Photo courtesy of VRCA)

With construction accounting for 10 per cent of the GDP in British Columbia, the Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA) welcomed BC United leader Kevin Falcon for an industry discussion for its second Constructive Conversations event.

“The construction industry is such an important part of the economy,” said Falcon as VRCA president Jeannine Martin asked him about the industry’s contribution to the provincial economy. Martin further pressed about the potential merit of having a dedicated minister with a construction portfolio.

“I don’t know that we need a Minister of Construction. We just need a minister responsible that understands the importance of the sector,” said Falcon.

Over the course of the 90-minute conversation, the pair covered such topics as elevating the brand of construction to attract more individuals to skilled trades, addressing the housing crisis and its impact on drawing people to B.C., the necessity for targeted immigration, short- and long-term infrastructure funding, and the importance of affordable childcare for working families.

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“I 100 per cent agree we need some form of prompt payment legislation because I know what it’s like to be an entrepreneur,” said Falcon. “I know what it’s like when you’ve got outstanding receivables, and you’re still having to feed the monster while waiting for some big payments that are due.”

He stated that he would seek guidance from industry stakeholders such as the VRCA president, as well as BCCA president Chris Atchison, to help structure the legislation by reviewing legislation from other provinces to identify best practices. Atchison highlighted that a cross-jurisdictional analysis, which serves this purpose, already exists and is currently with the government.

“Before we can even consider supporting innovative ideas and initiatives like Mr. Falcon’s plans to end the housing crisis, B.C. needs prompt payment legislation and more skilled workers,” said Atchison. “We need to alleviate the financial and operational stresses that are undermining our industry. If we continue as we are, contractors will be forced to make hard choices to preserve their business, their health, and quite frankly, their sanity.”

Falcon expressed frustration at the skilled trades shortage, stating that he believes that “government doesn’t understand that every crisis is actually an opportunity,” and that new approaches need to be tried to address the issue.

“We have to think totally differently about how we deal with this crisis. We have to act like it’s a crisis otherwise we will just keep doing more of the same, kind of getting these lackluster results, and 10 years from now, we’ll still be complaining about the shortage of workers,” he explained.

He also emphasized the need to celebrate the trades more effectively, starting with parents introducing their children to trade careers as a viable alternative to university. He also highlighted the importance of providing better resources to address language barriers, such as English training courses, for newcomers interested in entering the trades.

The next edition of the VRCA’s Constructive Conversations series is scheduled for August 28, with B.C. Conservative leader John Rustad scheduled to be the guest speaker.

www.vrca.ca

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