Warning: The facts contained in this edition have been reduced for purposes of brevity.

RoundUpDate returns for 2016 looking out to the future; sort of.

Now that we are all back in our traces and setting out on another lap around our various orbits here is a brief outlook of the immediate future as we see it from our editorial desk:

  • We should highlight BC Timber Sales’ introduction to the key elements of their proposed contractor rating system at the WSCA Annual Conference next month in Kelowna. This system is intended to reward competent contractors by giving them an advantage in bidding on BCTS contracts. The WSCA is currently working with BCTS on the design and implementation of this model. It is intended to mitigate some of the pitfalls of the low bid auction system. The conference presentation offers a chance to ask questions and help shape the scheme.

  • The recent 3.5-year prison sentence handed down to a manager in connection with the workplace deaths of four construction workers in 2009 is the first time the Westray Act has been used in a decade. “If you kill a worker, you go to jail,” is how head of the United Steelworkers Ken Neumann characterized the sentencing. Whether that is actually the case is debatable. But all the more reason to attend the WSCA conference presentation by WorkSafeBC on the difference between preventative and criminal investigations.

  • The Forest Practices Board is preparing to ask the big picture question, “Are reforestation choices meeting expectations?” This represents a forest policy area the WSCA has urged the Board to examine. The first challenge, considering the potential scope of such a project, or series of projects, will be to contain the investigation so it can produce useful results in a reasonable time. To that end the Board will spend the first part of this year working on its terms of reference. The WSCA has expressed its interest in supporting this pivotal undertaking.

  • It is not often, if ever, that we can report anything positive to do with the Khaira Enterprises disaster. Nevertheless, lawyers at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre are optimistic that after nearly six years some former Khaira employees may receive Employment Insurance benefits from their work with the discredited employer. The ongoing appeals being heard by Canada Revenue Agency are critical to all silviculture workers and employers being they will rule whether travel time is insurable for E. I. purposes. Previously CRA had ruled it wasn’t, which put their rules at odds with B.C.’s Employment Standards Regulation. That regulation considers travel time part of the work day for silviculture workers in calculating minimum wage: a provision that is still ignored by some employers. The Centre hopes to make an announcement at the WSCA conference in February.

  • This fiscal year’s $16.5 million Canada-BC Job Grant was fully subscribed in just over a month after it was opened last year back in April. An additional $3 million has recently come into the program for applications from priority sectors including forestry. Interestingly, the truck logging sector was able to receive an additional $500,000 dedicated to their training. Under the previous government the forecasted investment in Job Grant training was to rise to $30-million for the fiscal year starting April 1, 2016. But with the Liberals in place and setting their priorities we have yet to hear what the training grant program will look like. Employers may be able to find out more by attending The BC Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Access to Labour: A Discussion with the Forestry Sector session, taking place on January 27th at 1:00pm in the Century Plaza Hotel (Vancouver). To register click here.

  • Special Certification notice regarding attending the WSCA Conference next month:  All attendees at the conference can request a letter from WSCA certifying their attendance for the purposes of professional development or related OH&S regulatory and/or audit requirements. The same will apply to the Employer Advisers’ training sessions scheduled in association with the conference.