SAC: Government Must Commit to the Shipbuilding Industry

Friday, October 03, 2008

The shipbuilding industry and its marine suppliers are major employers in many regional markets in . The industries provide high-paying and highly skilled jobs that help workers and the communities they live in. Over the next 25 years, the federal government has plans to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on new ships for the Navy and the Coast Guard. Some decision-makers in , as evidenced in recent public statements, are actually considering buying these ships in places like and . These ships paid for by taxpayers can and should be built in . These countries will not buy ships from us.

The federal government has determined that Arctic Sovereignty is a national priority and as a result the Navy and the Coast Guard should be providing additional surveillance and services to the North. The Prime Minister has announced plans to build Arctic Patrol Vessels and a new Heavy Icebreaker to perform these roles. It is impossible to exercise sovereignty over the North or any other maritime area if we have no capability to build and service these ships in .

The problem is that the government system for buying ships is broken. It cannot provide ships in a timely manner. Government must get its act together to work with the industry and its workers in such a way that investment and recapitalization can occur and the highly skilled workforce can be consistently employed.

The Shipbuilding Association of Canada and many stakeholders have submitted proposals to the Federal Government to reform the way ships are purchased and to ensure that the government gets the ships it needs when it needs them. These initiatives will also ensure that the industry has the ability to service the ships they build that are so critical to 's sovereignty.

Shipbuilding and ship repair are strategic and integral to the maritime defense of . Now is the time for government to commit to the shipbuilding and industrial marine industry and to their employees. There is much work to be done and ships to be built. 's sovereignty objectives require that ships be built and serviced in . The industry has proposed a workable and practical solution. It is time for the government to get on with it.

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