VICTORIA (February 13, 2023) – Despite Health Minister Adrian Dix’s misleading comments in the Legislature over the past week, the NDP government is continuing to block local and Indigenous workers and contractors’ opportunity to work on public projects on their own lands.
Indigenous business owners and leaders from the Cowichan Tribes are speaking out against the NDP’s botched Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs), which discriminate against 85 per cent of construction workers in favour of NDP-supportive unions and threaten projects such as Cowichan Hospital Replacement Project.
“The Cowichan Hospital is three years behind schedule and $850 million over budget due to NDP incompetence,” said Greg Kyllo, Shadow Minister for Labour. “At a time when families are struggling, it’s shameful to see every single one of the NDP’s community rip-off projects — including the Pattullo Bridge, Highway 1-four lane upgrades and others — result in less for more.”
“Article 17 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) says very specifically that Indigenous peoples have the right not to be subjected to any discriminatory conditions of labour,” said Shadow Minister for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Michael Lee. “This is a clear violation of UNDRIP, as this is exactly what we have seen under the NDP’s discriminatory regime against the companies and workers of the Cowichan Tribes, including Jon Coleman.”
Despite multiple calls for the government to scrap the discriminatory CBA program, Premier David Eby and the NDP continue to stand by their union friends instead of pursuing economic reconciliation.
QUOTES FROM LOCAL AND INDIGENOUS CONTRACTORS
“I thought we were past the days of such discrimination, sidelining and treating Indigenous peoples as if we don’t know anything. I thought the residential school and Indian Day School times were over, but I was wrong. The NDP government is handling us today just like governments many decades ago handled me and our people in the past.”
• Jon Coleman, Jon Co Contracting
“It is incredibly disheartening that this government policy is limiting opportunities for small businesses like ours at Down to Earth Trucking. This discrimination isn’t right and it doesn’t benefit any of the little guys in town. We fight hard every day to make a small profit in trucking, but the government is giving the larger companies from out of town an advantage. It makes no sense and I support Jon Coleman and other local contractors in calling for the CBA policy to be abolished.”
• Dan Gillespie, Down To Earth Trucking
“I don’t agree with the way the BCIB rolled in with the CBA. We lost any opportunity to work on this project because I’m not going to accept losing core employees and having my business dismantled just to participate. I support Jon Coleman and I am calling on the government to abolish the CBA. I would like to participate in this major project in our community and traditional territories without being punished for it. All of our staff are local and we want the opportunity to work on this project without this government discrimination.”
• Dan Williams, Porlier Pass Contractors