August 10, 2021

Brynn BourkeTHIS SPRING, YOUR Tradetalk team got a “virtual” front row seat to the B.C. Budget Day lockup. Budget 2021 had a lot to offer British Columbians who are struggling through this pandemic.

The BC NDP delivered a $64.3 billion budget that included $26.4 billion in taxpayer-supported capital spending on big projects like the George Massey Replacement and completing the planning for the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain. Capital investments are anticipated to create over 85,000 construction and indirect jobs.

Huge investments are going into health care, both on the training side and health-related COVID-19 management. There are new social investments in housing, seniors supplement, disability  assistance, mental health and even the rollout of free transit for kids.

Budget Day kicked off a very active spring legislative session with other signature bills following:

  • Bill 3, Employment Standards Amendment Act, which mandates up to three hours of paid leave for B.C. workers to attend COVID vaccination appointments received Royal Assent on April 27.
  • On April 28, the province introduced Bill 6, Accessible British Columbia, which provides a framework for government to establish accessibility standards aimed at identifying, removing and preventing barriers to accessibility and inclusion.
  • On May 6, the government made the exciting announcement that Seaspan Shipyards has been selected to build a polar icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. The project will employ up to 1,400 professional and skilled trades jobs at the North Vancouver shipyard.
  • On May 11, B.C. became the first province to promise permanent paid sick leave, starting with the immediate rollout of three days and a commitment to a permanent plan starting January 2022.

Over on the federal front, the Government of Canada also delivered its budget, rolling out more than $101 billion over the next three years.

Members should take notice of enhancements to Employment Insurance that changed the Sickness Benefit from 15 to 26 weeks. This is a change we’ve long been advocating for and one that will help thousands of British Columbians who are struggling with cancer or other illnesses.

The federal government also created the new Apprenticeship Service. Budget 2021 gives the Ministry of Employment and Social Development Canada $470 million over three years to operate the program, which is expected to help 55,000 first year apprentices connect with employers and incentivizes the employers to sponsor apprentices.

The legislature is still sitting as Tradetalk goes to press. Stay tuned for further updates from the ledge.

By Brynn Bourke
Interim Executive Director