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Boosting Western Canada’s shipbuilding industry

Photo of Minister Yelich making an announcement in Esquimalt, British Columbia, as shipyard employees look on.
Minister Yelich makes an announcement in Esquimalt, British Columbia, as shipyard employees look on.

In February 2012, Minister Lynne Yelich stood before a crowd of western Canadian shipbuilders at the Esquimalt Graving Dock to announce the launch of Western Canada’s Shipbuilding Action Plan. This Plan supports the West’s shipbuilding industry and helps it to remain internationally competitive and sustainable.

Developed in support of the Government of Canada’s 30-year, $33 billion National Shipbuilding and Procurement Strategy (NSPS), Western Canada’s Shipbuilding Action Plan ensures that the West‘s shipbuilding industry is well-positioned to pursue opportunities presented by the NSPS

"Our Government is committed to supporting Western Canada’s maritime and shipbuilding industry," said Minister Yelich. "Our Action Plan for this industry will create jobs and stimulate long term economic growth in Western Canada."

When Vancouver Shipyards, part of the Seaspan group of companies, was selected under the NSPS to build the next generation of non-combat vessels for the Canadian navy, it didn’t take long for the B.C. shipbuilding industry to see the economic potential.

As a concrete first step in implementing the Action Plan, WD made an investment toward the creation of the Industrial Marine Training and Applied Research Centre (IMTARC) in Esquimalt. When operational, it will supply entry-level training as well as leadership and management, technology transfer and revitalized apprenticeship programs.

Connecting with new opportunities at the Western Canadian Shipbuilding Summit

On May 23, 2012, as an important step in delivering Western Canada’s Shipbuilding Action Plan, WD partnered with Seaspan Marine to host the Western Canadian Shipbuilding Summit in Vancouver. Minister Yelich delivered opening remarks, outlining the Government of Canada’s ongoing support for Western Canada’s shipbuilding industry.

"Events like the Shipbuilding Summit are crucial in helping western Canadian businesses showcase their expertise and continue to grow," said Minister Yelich. "This is a valuable part of Western Canada’s Shipbuilding Action Plan, which is creating jobs, economic growth, and long-term prosperity in the West."

The event brought together over 350 small and medium-sized businesses to connect with new business opportunities in British Columbia’s thriving shipbuilding industry.

IMTARC will ensure the sustainability of British Columbia’s shipbuilding and repair industry by training highly qualified workers.  Programs will be both broad and specific to the sector’s requirements, including entry level training for new entrants, leadership and management skills, technology transfer, and revitalized apprenticeship programs.

Economic activity in British Columbia’s shipbuilding industry is expected to grow from $450 million to $800 million, bringing up to 4,000 new jobs to North Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo and Port Alberni. Ensuring that Canadians fill those jobs is the primary goal of the new centre, which is being run by the B.C. Resource Training Organization. 

Delivering on its goal to bring together western small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with key players in the shipbuilding industry, WD partnered with Seaspan Marine to host a Shipbuilding Summit on May 23, 2012. This event allowed western SMEs to meet with Vancouver Shipyards and Irving Shipbuilding, as well as their first tier suppliers, to discuss specific shipbuilding projects and the opportunities they offer Western Canada. WD intends to build on this summit by hosting supplier development tours that showcase Western Canada’s shipbuilding capabilities and link western businesses to the key decision makers.

Over the coming months and years, WD will continue to examine opportunities to link western SMEs with prime contractors, educate stakeholders and examine investment opportunities that will further support Western Canada’s shipbuilding industry, create jobs and encourage economic growth in the West.