MONTREAL – More than 1,300 jobs are at risk due to Ottawa’s refusal to give the Davie shipyard near Quebec City a contract for a second supply ship, a coalition trying to save the facility said Thursday.
Members of the group travelled to Montreal to try to pressure Quebec-based MPs to recognize the plight of the province’s shipyard workers.
Some 800 workers are expected to lose their jobs by the end of the year, while another 350 people who work at the shipyard’s suppliers in the Quebec City area are also believed to be at risk of being unemployed.
On Thursday, the coalition presented the findings of a survey it conducted among 205 of the 219 Montreal-area suppliers to the Davie shipyard.
More than half of them said the federal government’s decision would negatively affect their businesses and threaten 160 jobs.
Davie recently completed the Asterix, a former container ship converted into a supply ship.
The shipyard’s workers were expecting an order for a second ship but were told by the Canadian Forces it would not be needed.
The president of a subsidiary of the Davie shipyard owner that acts as an intermediary for federal contracts said both the Senate and the House of Commons have recognized the urgency to equip the Navy with a ship similar to the one Davie recently completed.
“We are not trying to pull work from other shipyards in Canada,” Spencer Fraser, head of Federal Fleet Services, told reporters. “There is enough work for all three yards.”
The other facilities are in Vancouver and Halifax.
Ottawa plans on acquiring its second supply ship in 2021 from Vancouver, which has a $4.1-billion contract for two vessels.
Fraser said that timeline is not realistic.
Vancouver’s Seaspan shipyard can build only one ship at a time, Fraser said, and the yard first has to deliver four ships for the Canadian Coast Guard, an order that will be completed in 2023.
Fraser said Vancouver’s supply ship can only be completed by 2026.
He called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to release a more realistic timeline.
Davie spokesman Frederick Boisvert has said laid-off workers could be quickly recalled once the Trudeau government decides to send a “clear signal” or letter of intent for the second ship.
Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said in early December he recognized the expertise of Davie workers but the federal government simply didn’t need another supply ship.
“We cannot artificially create a need for something that doesn’t exist,” he told reporters in Montreal.
He said the federal government was analyzing the future shipbuilding needs of the Navy, coast guard and ferry services, which may provide opportunities for Davie in the future.