It’s in the best interest of Canadians to get building.
That's the message the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA) wants to get across through its new awareness campaign called "Let's build it." It's a national effort to move key projects through approvals and build some of the largest energy and infrastructure projects across the country.
"For the last roughly two years, we've had a fairly obvious challenge that has affected not just those who are directly involved in the oil and gas industry in Alberta and Saskatchewan, but more broadly in Canada," said PCA president Paul de Jong. "When you look at the contribution that our oil and gas industry makes to the GDP and the ill effects that derive from that drop in commodity price, you really see a substantial challenge for Canada. You see 100,000 jobs that are lost, you see a reduced amount of tax contributions to the provincial and federal governments, the royalty contributions are reduced. It's a widespread problem that affects not just the people who work in that industry but the people who work downstream and elsewhere in Canada."
Specifically, PCA and its member companies across Canada are working to move key projects through approvals to planning, including the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project to replace 1,660 kilometres of aging pipeline; the Trans Mountain Expansion Project to expand the existing 1953 pipeline route; Trans Canada's Energy East Pipeline to transport crude oil from the west to east; and Pacific NorthWest LNG, an $11-billion project waiting for federal approval.
"We at PCA are suggesting that we want to build projects to provide jobs for Canadians. We want to build these projects in the understanding that we can do so sustainably and with a proper respect to environmental stewardship," said de Jong.
"We want to help these projects with a better narrative about why they're important, why our marketplace can manage those responsibly in terms of cost, productivity, environmental recognition and community support." Other organizations have similar goals, de Jong stated, and PCA wanted to make sure its message is clear: the association wants to work with the industry, governments and Canadians to have a successful construction industry supporting the energy sector.
Construction provides seven per cent to the GDP and employs one out of 13 Canadians, he added.
"It's really trying to not merely in this moment change the conversation but to have a lasting impact on how Canadians understand the oil and gas industry and how they understand the importance of construction to jobs for Canadians and the Canadian GDP.
"There are a lot of jobs at stake here and we just want to, on an ongoing basis, have a dialogue with Canadians, with governments, with stakeholders to improve the odds of that industry being successful."
One of the major challenges for moving projects ahead comes from the regulatory systems in place.
"If we look at this marketplace 20 years ago, the regulatory systems were fairly simple — the projects were moving forward in environments where there were fewer voices raised in opposition," said de Jong. "Whereas now, in this current context, we do have a regulatory system that has appropriately adjusted to the scope of the project. We don't begrudge the regulatory system, we think it's reasonable, but it has to be designed in a way that allows for clarity for a producer so they know how long it will take to go through the process, what the expectations are so that they can manage that from a time and cost point of view."
Public opposition is also a hurdle with energy projects. Dialogue and education is key, de Jong said.
"Many take the position that oil and gas or fossil fuel-based projects are negative and should not proceed," explained de Jong. "We want to have a balanced conversation about how it's not a matter of energy or environment, it's energy and environment. We think having a good dialogue with folks who are concerned about the environment, community and regulatory passage, all those things are critical in both the industry and in government."
De Jong said we need to think "as Canadians on a strategic national level."
"We have to think that we are competing on an international scale for the attraction of investment monies," said de Jong. "That money is going to flow to jurisdictions that are efficient and work together even though they might have purposes that are in conflict with each other, it doesn't mean that we can't create industries that respect and integrate those differences for a prosperous and well-functioning industry."
This campaign is part of PCA's effort to do just that, he concluded.
"We want to work with other stakeholders, whether they agree with us or don't, so we can have a well-informed, mature, sensible conversation that's going to be better for Canada in the long run," he said.
PCA is also participating in ministerial panel sessions, National Energy Board and Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency consultations.
For more about "Let's build it," visit www.pcac.ca/action.