VICTORIA – The B.C. Liberals’ focus on opening the door for temporary foreign workers and ignoring British Columbians who are hoping for LNG jobs has the premier’s lead LNG proponent planning to fill up to 70 per cent of its construction jobs with temporary foreign workers, say the New Democrats.
“The premier started making big LNG job promises in September 2011 and in the three years since, has worked harder to recruit temporary foreign workers than she has to train B.C. workers for LNG,” said New Democrat spokesperson on natural gas development Bruce Ralston. “Now we’ve learned that the premier’s lead proponent told the government some time ago it will hire foreign workers to fill up to 70 per cent of the late stage construction jobs, passing up British Columbians looking for work.”
Pacific NorthWest LNG, majority-owned by Petronas, told the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office that 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. Petronas also recently indicated its intent to contract high-value engineering services offshore.
Ralston said despite the three years the premier had to invest in training and apprenticeships, at every turn, her government both cut funding for advanced education and skills training and advanced an agenda to secure temporary foreign workers with the Harper government, the government of China and in India.
“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,” Ralston said. “The premier must release that agreement immediately so the public can see what the premier gave away to Petronas and what job and training guarantees she secured for British Columbians, if any.”
“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,” he said.