Foreign worker use worries NDP

Pacific NorthWest LNG is firing back at statements alluding to a plan to bring in a significant number of temporary foreign workers.

Pacific NorthWest LNG is firing back at statements made by the New Democratic Party alluding to a plan to bring in a significant number of temporary foreign workers that would take jobs away from British Columbians.

New Democrat spokesperson on natural gas development Bruce Ralston accused the company of indicating it would “recruit 40 per cent of the workers required to build its terminal, and a staggering 70 per cent of the workers used during the last three years of building, from overseas”, citing the company’s filing with the BC Environmental Assessment Office.

“The Premier said this week that she has completed a project development agreement with Petronas, a proponent that had already told her government that it intends to use up to 70 per cent foreign labour on construction,” he said, also pointing to the recent pause of the Lelu Island terminal.

“It looks unlikely that construction of any LNG project will start in the next year. It’s time for the Premier to publicly reject the Petronas plan to use workers and businesses overseas and use the next year to fight for B.C. workers and an LNG industry built by them, rather than giving up on them in her desperation to get an unsupportable project underway.”

However, Pacific NorthWest LNG said the numbers contained in the filing represented somewhat of a worst-case scenario in which there were no skilled workers available in B.C. or across the country due to a large number of major projects moving forward.

“Our first priority is to hire as many local workers as possible to construct the facility. We’ve already began to support training programs for local workers and First Nations, such as Coastal Pathways Partnership and piloting our own Individual Training Program,” said spokesperson Spencer Sproule, noting some workers with “highly specialized expertise” that doesn’t exist in Canada will be needed.

“Where local workers are unavailable, our hiring philosophy will be to recruit workers from British Columbia and the rest of Canada before hiring international workers. Hiring as many Canadians as possible makes sense for our business and for our economy. Approximately one-third of the jobs operating the facility will be process operators. We will be providing training for those positions to help ensure we’re able to hire locally.”

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice said the potential use of temporary foreign workers for construction of the terminal is worrisome.

“Most of the jobs British Columbians and locals can benefit from are in the construction of the LNG facilities. It will be of little economic benefit if British Columbians are not working and it certainly will be hard-felt by people in Prince Rupert and Port Edward if they are left at the side of the road to watch temporary foreign workers building the LNG industry right in front of their eyes,” she said, noting the long term benefits of LNG are also

questionable.

“There are few jobs for local people once an LNG plant is in operation. The former pulp mill would have still employed more people than two LNG plants in Prince Rupert ever will. I want locals to benefit and that means they need to be involved in the construction  of LNG facilities.”