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Seaspan shipbuilding bid nets $60M in support
The federal government now has sixty million reasons to award a lucrative national shipbuilding contract to North Vancouver-based company Seaspan.
On Monday, Pat Bell, B.C.'s minister of jobs, tourism and innovation, announced the province will chip in $40 million if the multi-billion dollar National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy brings new jobs to the North Shore. An additional $20 million in support was also pledged by officials at BC Ferries.
In a press release issued Monday, Bell said the government wants to help strengthen Seaspan's bid to help foster job creation.
"We are investing in our human capital by supporting the creation of marine industry jobs for years to come," he said.
Seaspan is bidding to win one of two work packages up for grabs in the $35-billion national plan. If successful, the company will secure contracts to construct, repair, refit and maintain large vessels for the next three decades — which could generate thousands of new jobs and inject billions into the economy.
Bell said the province will provide $35 million in the form of training and labour tax credits if Seaspan wins one of the contracts. Another $5 million will be invested in the marine sector to support the industry's long-term viability.
BC Ferries, meanwhile, has promised $20 million to help increase the capacity of the province's repair and maintenance industry.
"Nothing will help B.C.'s marine sector better than by securing a long-term federal shipbuilding contract," said BC Ferries president David Hahn. "A strong shipbuilding and repair sector in B.C. is important for us to receive competitive pricing as we maintain and upgrade our fleet in the future."
Seaspan has noted support from the province and BC Ferries in its bid, but the company will likely have to wait until the fall to learn whether it has been successful. The West Coast company is competing against shipyards in Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia.
Jonathan Whitworth, CEO of Seaspan, said he is feeling optimistic that this week's support will help the company edge out its competition in Eastern Canada.
"We're in it to win it and we're certainly not alone. This type of support for the future of the B.C. shipbuilding industry will only add to an already stellar bid," said Whitworth.
The bid, he noted, has also gained approval across the province from shipyard labour unions, a multitude of post-secondary schools, local municipalities and the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.
"I am confident we've submitted a winning bid, and we couldn't have done it without the backing of our provincial and municipal governments, as well as the multitude of organizations, such as BC Ferries, who have provided encouragement and assistance throughout the process."