BC NDP have insufficient plan for displaced resource workers

Feb 16, 2023 | 42-4, Blog, Governance, Legislature, Question Period, Video

For the past week my colleague Sonia Furstenau and I have been asking about resource development, specifically liquefied natural gas (LNG).

In this question, I switch from primarily a climate focus to what plan the BC NDP government has for the 18,000 people working on the four mega-projects (LNG Canada, Site C, Coastal GasLink and Trans Mountain pipelines) that will be coming to a completion soon.

A boom and bust economy is neither good in the boom or the bust. As the forestry industry is in decline, the BC NDP has a decision in front of them about what they are going to do about the multiple proposals ready to ramp up the LNG industry.

The BC NDP response focusses on the insufficient programs they have currently underway to support workers. They have absolutely no response for the thousands of workers that will be displaced once these projects are completed.


A. Olsen:

I apologize for the outburst earlier, Mr. Speaker, but this is quite activating, this conversation, this whatever it is that’s going on in here.

The recognition needs to be made from this government that our stuff, the stuff that my uncle that I talked about had to go visit, our cultural so-called artifacts, in that place, was locked behind closed doors. Those are not being transported out to the safe place for storage. Those are staying in the building that’s going to fall down. That’s what we’ve been told. So yeah, this is an activating conversation for those of us who have sacred items locked away in the glass cases of those museums.

The British Columbia economy experiences boom and bust cycles. There are many factors, including commodity prices and access to natural resources. The completion of four major megaprojects over the next two years will end thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity. LNG Canada, Coastal GasLink, Site C, Trans Mountain — these are worth a combined $88 billion and employ 18,000 people on average in northern B.C. and the Lower Mainland.

To the Premier, what’s his plan for these workers?

Hon. B. Bailey:

Thank you to the member opposite for the question. We know how important it is to keep people working. We’ve seen significant impacts as mills curtail, for example, and the member’s example as well. That’s why we’ve created the $90 million jobs manufacturing fund. It’s one example of the work that we’re doing to ensure economic diversity in our province. It’s so important that people can find well-paying jobs wherever they live in the province. It’s important to us. We’re doing that work, and we’ll continue.

Mr. Speaker:

Member, supplemental.

A. Olsen:

It’s $88 billion worth of economic activity that’s being generated by 18,000 jobs, and the minister provided a roughly $20 million response to that. The context is way out of whack.

It’s remarkable that this B.C. NDP government is allowing the hope of the LNG industry, an industry that they know makes no sense in a climate emergency, to continue to burn. I imagine this is because under their plan, these workers will be working in the handful of new LNG and pipeline projects that are currently being speculated on in our province.

It appears that this B.C. NDP government is poised to make fracked gas the next forest fibre. Neither the Premier nor his ministers will close the door on future fossil fuel expansion. We’ve given them several opportunities just this week and before.

[10:40 a.m.]
To the Premier, is he planning on keeping these workers busy on the handful of new gas liquefaction and pipeline projects such as the Enbridge project, which is currently being proposed in this province?

Hon. R. Fleming:

I appreciate the member’s question. It’s a bit perplexing because the projects he listed and the job creation and the economic activity associated with them are all projects that, to my knowledge, he opposed. I can tell him that the workforce, the heavy construction workforce in this province will be utilized on and is being utilized on major infrastructure projects right across British Columbia today.

There are even workers who have been working on pipeline projects constructing the Kicking Horse Canyon, phase 4, right now. We have workers who are working on the Broadway subway tunnel project right through Vancouver. We have the largest capital infrastructure investment plan in the province’s history.


Mr. Speaker: Shhh.

Hon. R. Fleming:

By investing in the skills of workers in this province, we are creating the capacity to do even more infrastructure projects that will develop a modern economy in the province of British Columbia.


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