Public Affairs Update Header
April 28, 2014
In This Issue
BC Chamber disappointed with fast-food TFW moratorium
Government outlines measures to address opposition to oil development
Government announces province-wide consultation on ALR changes
B.C. teachers’ job action began last week Colin Hansen to lead AdvantageBC
The Public Affairs Update is your weekly insight, perspective and analysis on politics in British Columbia and Canada.  This newsletter is brought to you by the largest, and most broadly-based business organization in the province, the BC Chamber of Commerce – the Voice of Business in B.C.

BC Chamber disappointed with fast-food TFW moratorium

The BC Chamber of Commerce is concerned and disappointed by Employment Minister Jason Kenney’sannouncement of an immediate moratorium on the fast-food industry’s access to the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program.

“This is an overreaction in the absence of facts,” said John Winter, president and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce.

Many B.C. employers continue to need the TFW program to fill gaps in the Canadian labour market. The BC Chamber of Commerce supports the TFW program as a critical mechanism to meet those needs and support B.C. employers. 

Government outlines measures to address opposition to oil development
The Government of Canada has begun to outline a series of new measures aimed at accelerating its plans for resource development. 

First, federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq recommended humpback whales be downgraded from “threatened” to “species of special concern.” This change reduces protections for the species, and also the capacity for environmental groups to block projects in the courts.

Second, Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt announced improvements to rail safety, including phasing out unsafe rail tank cars and immediately banning many of those cars from carrying dangerous goods. This change – a key Transportation Safety Board recommendation made after the Lac Megantic disaster – tightens safety protocols around transporting oil.

The changes come at a time of uncertainty for oil and gas producers. In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama delayed making a final decision on Trans Canada’s Keystone XL pipeline until November 4, 2014. 

Government announces province-wide consultation on ALR changes

Last week, newly appointed Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnickannounced the ministry is willing to reconsider legislation that would change the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).Letnick stated that the province is putting all option on the table, including amending, maintaining and removing the bill. The bill was originally touted by Bill Bennett, minister of energy and mines and minister responsible for core review. He advocated that it was necessary to modernize and improve the management of both protected farmlands and the Agricultural Land Commission that oversees the land.

B.C. teachers’ job action began last week
Last week, a number of school districts cancelled recess as provincial school teachers began job action. Teachers in Prince George, Quesnel, Prince Rupert, Arrow Lakes, North Okanagan- Shuswap, Central Okanagan, Qualicum, Coast Mountains and Bulkley Valley have refused to supervise students outside of the classroom or communicate in writing with principals and other administrators.This withdrawal of non-essential duties marks the first stage of multi-level strike action recently announced by the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF).Minister of Education Peter Fassbender has said that the dispute revolves around wages, and expressed disappointment in BCTF demands he characterized as out of step with other public sector contracts. The BCTF has said it is advocating for smaller class sizes and more specialist teachers.

The relationship between the B.C. government and the BCTF has been contentious for more than a decade.

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This weekly report produced for the BC Chamber of Commerce by Fleishman-Hillard.  While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information included in this publication as of the date of issue, events and government policies are subject to frequent change.  Therefore, the BC Chamber of Commerce and Fleishman-Hillard cannot assume any responsibility for actions taken solely or principally on the basis on the information contained herein.