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Pipeline Uncertainty Leaves Construction Industry in Limbo

With the Trans Mountain Pipeline seemingly always in the news, it’s hard to know what to make of it all. While the politics of the issue are murky, how it will affect the construction industry is even muddier.

According to Conference Board of Canada estimates, the project would create the equivalent of 15,000 construction jobs and the equivalent of 37,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs per year of operations. The direct construction workforce spending in communities along the pipeline route is estimates to be $480 million.

Although they quote 15000  throughout the media, there’s been doubt cast upon how legitimate said number is.
For example, Kinder Morgan had told the National Energy Board that construction employment for the project was an average of 2,500 workers a year, for two years. Meaning, they will only create 5,000 jobs, not the 15,000 initially mentioned. Even though the number of jobs created will likely be less than 15,000, it’s still a significant number for the construction industry.

On the other side of this issue, the construction jobs will be short-term. This is why the business community has recently put together a petition against the pipeline. They’re very concerned about the government “doubling-down” on sectors that don’t have long-term growth potential.
The petition signed by over 800 businesses and entrepreneurs opposing the pipeline expansion project makes that point that this capital should be invested in “high-growth” sectors. Members of this group want the government to support growth in green energy, technology, and media production rather than oil.

How This Affects the Construction Industry

The pipeline numbers suggest that, although it will add jobs to the economy, the numbers might be misleading. In fact, other sectors unrelated to the pipeline create the same amount of jobs daily. Some construction workers hope that the new jobs will increase wages and career opportunities. This also might be true, but the pipeline is not the reason: it’s a process happening naturally.
With numerous factors coinciding within the construction industry right now, wages and job opportunities are quickly on the rise with or without the addition of the pipeline. The lack of workers is naturally driving up wages and creating a great need for skilled construction workers.

The real issue facing the construction industry is a lack of awareness among people who are in protest. These groups, which include women, LGBTQ, new immigrants, and Aboriginal peoples, aren’t necessarily part of the industries normal target market, making the jobs very hard to discover and apply for.

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Aidan McCrea