Minister of Gas Development Rich Coleman addresses the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 3.

Minister of Gas Development Rich Coleman addresses the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 3.

Developing LNG and skilled labour a priority for the province, Coleman tells Prince Rupert chamber

Minister of Natural Gas Development Rich Coleman said he is confident unemployment will be a thing of the past if LNG development succeeds.

Minister of Natural Gas Development Rich Coleman said he is confident unemployment will be a thing of the past if even a fraction of the LNG terminals proposed for the Northwest become a reality.

“I do think we will get to 100 per cent employment and still have a need for workers. I believe the opportunity is that huge,” he told members of the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday night.

“Right now, there are an estimated 75,000 jobs coming out of LNG development and another 65,000 needed for construction.”

But Coleman said the number of jobs presents another challenge that needs to be addressed, which is finding enough skilled labour to fill those positions. To do that, Coleman said the province is going to have to rethink the way it has done things in the past.

“We have to change our way of thinking,” he said, alluding to online and distance trades training and getting students the first year or two of the necessary training in high school.

“We don’t want to have happen what did happen in Australia, which is they couldn’t fill the skilled labour positions needed so the price of the projects climbed.”

Coleman noted there was significant work ahead to grow the industry, including coming up with a tax regime that will encourage industry to choose B.C. and creating certainty with that regime, but said he is confident LNG is B.C.’s next major opportunity.

“I have had people tell me, ‘Rich, you’re too optimistic thinking we can get five plants done’. I have told them we have 10 big proposals and three smaller plans in the Lower Mainland and I would like to get all 13,” he said.

“If we’re successful, that is $100 billion in economic opportunity coming directly to the government to make us a debt-free province and supply the services needed by our aging population. It is that important.”