HALIFAX – The federal Treasury Board president says there are no changes planned to the National Shipbuilding Strategy that would compromise the role of Halifax’s Irving Shipbuilding Inc.
The shipbuilding company expressed its concern this week after Quebec-based Davie Shipbuilding was given a $610 million contract to convert three icebreakers for the Canadian Coast Guard.
Irving and Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards were selected by Canada in 2011 as the only two partners in the strategy, and Irving was worried Davie’s involvement signalled a possible shift.
“In developing the framework for the NSS, Canada acknowledged that there was not enough future large ship construction required for the Navy and Coast Guard to sustain more than two shipyards and their skilled workforce,” the company said in a release.
They referenced remarks from Quebec MP Steven MacKinnon, who reportedly said that Davie will continue to have opportunities to bid and win work under the strategy.
“The men and women of the Halifax Shipyard are concerned that these remarks signal the possible redirection of shipbuilding work out of Atlantic Canada. These are well-paying, good jobs, won fairly through a competitive process.”
But Scott Brison, a Nova Scotia MP and president of the Treasury Board of Canada, said Irving’s role within the shipbuilding strategy is secure.
“I want to be absolutely clear on this: there are no changes planned or contemplated to the National Shipbuilding Strategy that would alter the role that Irving or Seaspan play as the two principals in the strategy,” said Brison in a phone interview Friday.
“It’s always been the case that further opportunities exist for other shipyards, including Davie, for small vessel construction, conversion, maintenance, repair and refit.”
He said the new contract is a conversion project, so it meets that criteria.
Jean-Yves Duclos, the federal minister of Families, Children and Social Development, has said the Davie contract will secure up to 200 well-paying middle class jobs at the Levis, Que., shipyard for the next 24 months.