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February 14, 2018

Canadian Building Trades Unions Comments on Regulatory Failure Surrounding Energy Projects

OTTAWAFeb. 13, 2018 /CNW/ – Canadian Building Trades Unions (CBTU) is comprised of over half a million Canadians, the men and women of the skilled trades, people who make their living, support their families and their communities by working in the energy sector of the economy. The issue goes far beyond any single province. This issue goes to how projects are approved in Canada and by whom.

Our members build Canada. We build it right the first time and what we do stands the test of time. The proponents of projects are required to undertake a robust review that is onerous, very time-consuming and one that balances risks, costs and consequences. Who actually does the work on a project should be one of those concerns. We participate in the reviews of these projects because we can add fact in respect of the safety and community benefit that flows from the construction and operations of the project. What we build achieves the highest safety and environmental standards anywhere in the world.

A pipeline that is reviewed and approved by the Government of Canada, where that Government determined the project to be in the national interest, ought to proceed. Government of Canada approval of an interprovincial project is in keeping with those powers confided to Canada under the Constitution Act; contrary actions by provincial governments exacerbate a regulatory morass, project proponents are justly dismayed by the lack of certainty, the time required to get an approval and even when an approval is granted there still is no certainty because local or provincial politics get in the way. It is as if we wish to chase away people who have money to invest and resources to develop. In a country that exists, to a great part, due to its natural resources this is counterintuitive.

Reform of major project development approvals needs to proceed. Canada, and people who invest in Canada, must have certainty, consistency and a timely approach to the issue of project approvals.

What is in this for CBTU and the members of our affiliated unions?? The answer is at once both simple and complex; we get jobs in the initial construction. Every construction job is a transitory job that will have a completion date. But this is not the end of the story. A pipeline is a job conduit from the region of the country in which the product is extracted to the region of the country in which it is processed. This continues for the life of the infrastructure. The ill-fated Energy East project would have developed capacity in Alberta and Saskatchewan around the extraction and initial processing of hydrocarbons. This would have created thousands of high paying high skilled jobs in the construction of new processing facilities, maintenance and sustaining capital construction.  These jobs would have been endured through the operational life of the facility. They would have created opportunities for apprenticeships leading to lifelong careers. Such opportunities ought not to be squandered.

We, as Canadians, need the jobs that come from our natural resources. There is no doubt that we need a rigorous and robust approval process but that process needs to be expeditious, final and binding, and most of all one that will encourage investment in our Canadian resources. We are looking to Government, at all levels, to provide the leadership that will get us there!!

About CBTU
The North  America-wide Building Trades coordinators activities and provides resources to 15 affiliated trade unions in the construction, maintenance and fabrication industries.  In Canada, CBTU represents 500,000 skilled trades workers.