Pledge to Buy Canadian-Made Vessels a Boost to Shipyards, CAW President Says

July 30, 2009, 12:09 PM EST

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The CAW is commending the federal government's commitment to build the next generation of Coast Guard and navy vessels in Canada and is urging the government to continue its dialogue with industry stakeholders to ensure this work goes ahead as soon as possible.

"The federal government has realized that the best kind of stimulus it can provide is ensuring that the infrastructure and material needs of the country are met by domestic producers," said CAW President Ken Lewenza, whose union represents 3,000 workers in the shipbuilding industry.

"This will mean a substantial boost to the shipyards in Halifax and Marystown, as well as a number of other shipyards right across the country, already suffering from low orders and a rise in overseas purchases by various levels of government," said Lewenza.

The $40 billion, 30-year program promises to create thousands of jobs over the long term. If a similar commitment was made by the federal and provincial governments to buy Canadian-made ferries the impact would be amplified in shipyards across the country, creating more jobs for Canadians in this important, highly skilled industry. 

The government of British Columbia recently squandered an opportunity to support B.C. shipyards when it placed an order with a German shipyard for three large ferries - a heavily state-subsidized shipyard.

"Although we applaud the federal government's initiative we are still demanding that the federal government act to put in place policies that allow shipbuilders in this country to build vessels for our own domestic commercial needs," said Les Holloway, CAW Atlantic area director.

The CAW has an ongoing campaign, Made in Canada Matters, urging all levels of government to adopt procurement standards that would see government purchases sourced from domestic producers. 

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