CBTU concerned federal government move to outsource construction for BC LNG project will damage skills training and development

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Canadian Design and Construction News staff writer

            The organization representing Canadian skilled construction trades workers has expressed concerns about the federal government’s decision to provide full duty remissions for steel from China to supply two natural gas projects in British Columbia

            Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU) says in a statement that the two plants will be modularized, a relatively new business model that allows for a project to be built in smaller, shippable pieces with all of the equipment and components preinstalled and then connected on site.

            “Our workers build Canada, and with changes in the way we do business, we need to work closely with industry and government on how to balance progress while protecting Canadian jobs,”  CBTU director Arlene Dunn said in a statement.

             “The use of modules at the LNG plant may very well address a lack of domestic supply but these are not the last modules to be used in Canada. Government must sit with industry and labour, as equal partners and discuss how to develop a plan on how our domestic industry and subsequently Canadian workers, can meet the needs of these projects in the years to come.” 

LNG Canada and Woodfibre LNG are projected to create 10,000 jobs in Canada, and the modules brought in from China account for approximately one third of the total steel required for an LNG plant. The projects will require a range of steel products in addition to the modules that will create more good jobs and opportunities for Canada’s steel producers and workers, the labour organization says.

“We appreciate the measures the government has taken to protect the Canadian steel industry, and while the use of these modules may be a necessary step to ensure these two projects move forward, it also sheds light on the lack of capacity that currently exists in Canada. In order for our training of skilled workers to be successful, we need the job opportunities that create a pathway to apprenticeship and completion,” Dunn said.

“This will allow Canadians to address the skills trades shortage directly. We want to continue to work with industry and government to make that happen, but we need the government to sit down with us as serious partners. This will be the only way to ensure Canadian workers come first and we do not address the skills shortage with temporary foreign workers. We need a Canadian made solution.”

CBTU says in its statement that its members “proudly recruit, train and support over half a million skilled trades workers across Canada. We invest over $500 million to ensure our members obtain consistent skills upgrading and that we develop modern training to meet the ever-changing needs of industry.”

“Canada is facing a growing skills trade shortage and it is paramount that to address this problem, Canadians must be given work opportunities – including the fabrication of modules for LNG plants – and these opportunities be kept in Canada.”

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