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Western Canada’s Shipbuilding Action Plan

February 13, 2012
Esquimalt, British Columbia

Notes for an address by

The Honourable Lynne Yelich
Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification

Launch of Western Canada’s Shipbuilding Action Plan and Funding Announcement

Corresponding Documents: News Release | Photo Gallery

Check Against Delivery

Good morning everyone, it is an honour to be with you today on behalf of the Government of Canada. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize today’s other speakers: George MacPherson and John Shaw. I would also like to thank the managers, owners, and of course, all of the employees here at Victoria Shipyards for hosting us here today. It’s my first time here at Esquimalt Graving Docks and let me tell you, it does not disappoint.

British Columbia has a proud maritime history. For over a hundred years ships have been built in British Columbia, and I am excited to begin a new chapter for this vibrant industry. I am excited for both British Columbia, and for Western Canada.

A month ago the Prime Minister was in Vancouver to announce that the Government of Canada and Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd. have successfully reached an agreement – in principle – that paves the way for the construction of Canada’s non-combat fleet under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.

Our Government’s plan will provide three decades of stability for shipbuilders in British Columbia and right across this country. Our plan will give the next generation of this country’s naval and coast guard personnel the vital equipment that they need to do their jobs, and, speaking of jobs, this strategy will create, over its 30 year duration, some 75 million person hours of work. That will mean some 4000 jobs here on the West Coast - not, by the way, just here in Esquimalt, but also in yards at North Vancouver, Nanaimo, and Port Alberni.

But not only does the Shipbuilding Strategy provide stability and jobs for the shipbuilders on the west coast, it provides for economic opportunities for local small and medium sized businesses. Many of these businesses will benefit by capitalizing on secondary opportunities available through the strategy, offering the specialized expertise, skilled labour and products that British Columbia companies are known for.

Our Government is committed to ensuring that those businesses that are poised to prosper from the Strategy have the knowledge and the tools to take advantage of the secondary economic benefits. So, today, I am proud to announce Western Canada’s Shipbuilding Action Plan.

Over the coming months and years WD will work alongside businesses across the West to help them capitalize on the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. Our Action Plan focuses on: Informing western Canadians so that they can take full advantage of NSPS opportunities, showcasing the capabilities of Western Canada’s shipbuilding industry to key players and, investing our money where it matters to ensure that Western Canada’s shipbuilding industry remains strong and competitive.

To deliver on this plan, WD will: Host a Shipbuilding Summit that will bring the key players from across the country together, Coordinate Shipbuilding Bootcamps across Western Canada that will help businesses navigate federal procurement processes and prepare them to take advantage of these new opportunities. These Bootcamps are coming to a town near you! WD will also lead supplier development tours that will showcase Western Canada’s shipbuilding capabilities and link western businesses to the key decision makers, make strategic investments that further develop and grow Western Canada’s shipbuilding industry and advocate as a champion for Western Canada’s shipbuilding industry to promote its strengths ensure its long-term competitiveness.

Effective today, businesses can register on our website to get updated information on WD shipbuilding activities that are designed to set them up for success and, of course, you can also follow us on Twitter!

Ladies and gentlemen… Our plan starts today. As a first concrete step I am pleased to announce that our Government, through Western Economic Diversification Canada, is contributing over $1 million to help British Coumbia’s Regional Training Organization construct a new marine training centre here in Esquimalt. Our investment is helping ensure the sustainability of British Columbia’s shipbuilding and repair industry by training highly qualified workers. It is an investment that will help provide Canadians with the opportunity to embark on a career in the shipbuilding industry. A healthy industry that will not only create thousands of high-value jobs across the country, but provides a future of stability and opportunities in spin-off industries.

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, very importantly, revitalized apprenticeship programs.

I am pleased to look around today and see so many of us wearing these blue hardhats… As all of you know, blue is a very important symbol… In the shipbuilding industry, these hats are worn by pipe fitters. And whether you are a pipe fitter, welder, engineer, or accountant, you are a part of an initiative of national importance. There is tremendous opportunity here for all of you – our local mom and pop shops, our skilled workers – for Western Canada, And as of this morning it is even easier for you to take advantage of the opportunities to come. This morning Seaspan launched a single window Portal where businesses and potential suppliers can register. The Portal will help Seaspan match their needs with what businesses have to offer.

I encourage Western Canada’s small- and medium-sized businesses to take advantage of this opportunity and register their interest and capabilities on Seaspan’s website.

Through building ships, we are helping build our economy while also equipping Canada’s men and women in uniform so they can serve our country, and as the Prime Minister said last month, when you see the fine ships you’ve built carrying Canada’s flag to the ends of the earth, you will be glad that you had a part in doing it.

As we move forward, our number-one priority as a government is prosperity, economic growth and job creation. The Harper Government, through Western Canada’s Shipbuilding Action Plan, will continue to do its part to educate, showcase, invest and advocate for Western Canada and our growing shipbuilding industry. Our Government recognizes that Canada’s prosperity depends not just on meeting the challenges of today, but on building a dynamic economy that will create opportunities and better jobs for Canadians in the future.

Together, we are building a stronger West for a stronger Canada. Thank you. Merci.