Advancing Labour Polices that Work

(Published in Sounding Board, Vancouver Board of Trade, Kevin Evans, May 2006)

The Vancouver Board of Trade, through its participation in the Coalition of BCBusinesses, has played a pivotal role in the development of BC’s labour laws and employment policies in the last decade.

The Coalition was formed in 1992 and has grown into an effective and experienced voice for small and medium sized businesses. Coalition member associations represent over 50,000 businesses active in all sectors of BC’s diverse economy in communities throughout the province.

The Coalition’s advocacy philosophy is that employment policies in British Columbia must reflect the principles of fairness, flexibility and individual choice. Workplace labour laws and employment policies must meet the needs of employers and employees and allow business to successfully compete within the global marketplace.

Labour Policies that Work was the Coalition’s comprehensive policy document and lobbying campaign that helped shape BC’s sweeping 2002 labour law reforms. The Coalition’s success in achieving labour and employment policy reform has had a positive impact on BC’s overall business climate and on the success of individual businesses

In 2003, the Coalition lobbied for a new industry training model and was successful in securing the appointment of three small business representatives to the industry training board.

We pressed for the formation of the WCB’s Small Business Advisory Committee in 2004 with Coalition representatives providing a sounding board on the impact of WCB policy changes on small business.

The Coalition of BC Businesses is working to protect the policy gains made by the employer community and head off policy changes that would turn back the clock. Last year, the Coalition mounted a proactive communications campaign that built public support for key business issues in the lead up to the provincial election.

The Coalition also provides members with useful policy research, polling and reporting. Most recently, the Coalition’s Small Business Economic Outlook and Employment Standards Survey gauged employer opinions and attitudes and found overwhelming support for the 2002 employment standards reforms.

Looking ahead, the Coalition will continue to pursue employment and labour policies that will help foster a positive relationship between employers and employees and a climate for economic growth, opportunities and jobs.

On our radar screen for the upcoming year are initiatives to: enhance the rule of law during labour disputes; cooperate with VANOC on a strategy to improve industrial relations leading up to the 2010 Olympic Games; and promote ‘best practices’ for small business employers and encourage compliance with the new employment standards regulations.

The Coalition’s success in framing issues and driving debate in Victoria and in the court of public opinion derives from the commitment of its member associations – like the Vancouver Board of Trade. We thank you for your ongoing support.