Canada commits $10bn to constructing Site C hydroelectric dam
The British Columbia (BC) government has committed to completing the construction of the Site C hydroelectric dam, located near Fort St. John, that is expected to cost $10bn, with $700mn set aside for overruns.
Had the government decided to cancel the project, it would have taken on its $3.9bn in debt that would then become the responsibility of BC Hydro customers and/or BC taxpayers as public debt.
“Megaproject mismanagement by the old government has left B.C. in a terrible situation,” said Premier John Horgan. “But we cannot punish British Columbians for those mistakes, and we can’t change the past. We can only make the best decision for the future.”
“We will not ask British Columbians to take on $4 billion in debt with nothing in return for the people of this province and, even worse, with massive cuts to the services they count on.”
The BC government will now outline a program that will see a Project Assurance Board put in place to both contain costs and add tangible benefits to the dam.
Such benefits will include an emphasis placed upon hiring both First Nations workers and apprenticeships on the construction project and a new BC Food Security Fund, based on the Site C revenues, that will look to support and enhance regional agricultural innovation.
“We’re taking the steps the previous government showed no interest in: a solid budget, enhanced review and oversight, community benefits, and an eye to the future,” Horgan continued.
“As we move forward, I welcome ideas from across our province as we define an energy strategy that protects our environment, delivers on our climate responsibilities, powers future generations, and creates jobs and opportunities for all British Columbians.”
217,000 extra workers needed to meet COVID-19 recovery
As the construction industry’s recovery progresses, the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) Construction Skills Network (CSN) forecasts have led the organisation to believe the industry will reach 2019 levels of output in 2022.
The CSN says there will be an increase in the number of construction workers in “most English regions” by 2025, with demands forecasted at a 1.7% rise for the East Midlands, and a 1.4% rise for the West Midlands.
Scotland and Wales are also predicted to see a surge in demand for construction workers with a total increase of 1.4% and 0.7% respectively. The North East is the only region to see a slight decline in workforce demand at -0.1%.
Wood and interior fit-out trades among the most desirable during COVID-19
According to CSN’s forecast, the trades that are the most wanted are those of wood and interior fit-outs, with both requiring around 5,500 workers per year. Other in-demand trades include technical staff and other construction professionals, requiring 5,150 workers each year, construction managers at 3,600, and the electrical installation trade, which requires 3,400 staff per year.
There is also expected to be demand for 7,850 non-construction, office-based professionals and technical and IT support staff each year. Steve Radley, Policy Director at CITB, said: “It’s great to see construction coming back so strongly and creating lots of job opportunities.
“We need to adopt new approaches to meet these growing skills needs and deliver these quickly. We are working closely with the government and FE to build better bridges between FE and work and make apprenticeships more flexible. We are also making significant investments in supporting work experience that make it easier for employers to bring in new blood.
“We must also make sure that we invest in the skills that will drive change and meet new and growing needs such as Net Zero emissions and Building Safety. We will be announcing plans soon to tackle specific skills and occupations such as leadership and management, digital skills, and skills related to energy efficiency”, he said.