2003/04 annual report reflects the ongoing efforts of the Ministry
of Skills Development and Labour to encourage innovation, productivity
and prosperity for all British Columbians in a fair and safe work
environment. New laws, significant agreements and extensive reviews
were undertaken to provide solutions to a variety of challenges
employers and employees face in the workplace.
Government has taken a proactive role leading British Columbia
into the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, which, along
with related projects, will mean thousands of new jobs for British
Columbians. A provincial human resources strategy has also
been developed to ensure business, education and government sectors
maximize opportunities for sustainable economic development in the
years to come. A number of construction projects on the Olympic
horizon, coupled with continued demands, fuelled further confidence
in our economy in 2003. The 57 per cent surge in housing starts
over 2002 reinforced this.
This ministry also focused on providing a safe work environment
and improving fairness in Workers' Compensation, along with a commitment
to significantly reduce appeal backlogs. Workers Compensation Act
changes ensured partners of workers who died from workplace injuries
received lifetime survivor benefits to help them plan for their
future. A task force of senior forest industry representatives was
also established to find ways to reduce unacceptable levels of death
and serious injuries in this sector.
Employment Standards changes helped remove unnecessary regulation
and implemented new rules to protect young people in the workforce
and enhance their ability to find jobs. Among the new regulations,
specific rules were developed for children working in the film and
television industry, setting out how long a child can work in a
day or week and ensuring that their incomes were protected.
Government, the agriculture industry and employees entered into
a formal partnership agreement in 2003 to help protect farm workers
by targeting better working conditions and improving job opportunities
in that sector. All interested parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding
that provided for better education of agriculture workers and employers
and continued site visits by employment standards enforcement staff.
Government also responded to concerns of the B.C. Film and Television
Industry regarding on-going labour relations challenges in the industry
with the appointment of an industrial inquiry commission headed
by Justice David Tysoe of the B.C. Supreme Court. The report that
Justice Tysoe completed in early March has challenged the industry
to improve production and employment.
We continue to work with all sectors to make this province the
best place in Canada to live, work and invest.
Honourable Graham P. Bruce
Minister of Skills Development and Labour