charter court

B.C. Court of Appeal upholds CBA ruling

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The B.C. Court of Appeal has denied the Charter of Rights challenge to B.C.’s Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) brought by the Independent Contractors and Business Association (ICBA), the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) and several other construction industry groups.

The ruling upholds a decision by the B.C. Supreme Court earlier this year, where the Court determined that the applicants’ submissions with respect to union membership requirements under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms did not belong before the Court.

“Community Benefits Agreements are here to stay.” said Andrew Mercier, executive director of the BC Building Trades. “It has been made clear by all levels of the courts in B.C. that the proper course of action for the ICBA and their friends is to file their claim with the B.C. Labour Relations Board. They have consistently declined doing that. This is not an issue that rises to the level of the courts.”

Charter arguments in the case had already been struck from the application last July and again in February of this year. The Supreme Court of BC ruled at that time that the BC Labour Relations Board was the proper forum for charter arguments.

The BC Building Trades noted the ruling marks the third time a charter challenge of this province’s CBA framework has been struck by the judicial system and that higher courts have repeatedly dismissed charter challenges to similar labour agreements in place across Canada.

The coalition maintains its case “has been, and will continue to be, about Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Trevena ’s decision — her statutory discretion — to impose an unfair and discriminatory policy on the construction industry. It is not challenging the collective agreement embedded in the CBA or any other issue within the jurisdiction of the LRB.”

The B.C. government has stated repeatedly that CBAs ensure local hiring as well as give underrepresented groups an opportunity to be part of these projects.

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