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Comment: British Columbia wins when ships are built locally

Backed by a workforce of 3,900 shipbuilders, we are now a major employer and economic engine for our province and our country.
Members of the Royal Canadian Navy joined Seaspan employees and executives at a keel-laying ceremony at Seaspan Shipyards in North Vancouver for joint support ship HMCS Preserver, on Oct. 27. Heath Moffatt, Seaspan

A commentary by the chief executive officer of Seaspan Shipyards.

Shipbuilding in Canada is a West Coast tradition. The industry has a rich heritage and history in British Columbia dating back more than century.

But a new era has dawned for B.C. shipbuilding — kickstarted by the National Shipbuilding Strategy, Seaspan has been growing and revitalizing the shipbuilding industry and has quietly built one of the most modern shipyards in North America.

As a part of this rebirth, we have renewed British Columbia’s homegrown shipbuilding expertise and increased the capacity, capability and competitiveness of our shipyards and the Canadian supply chain.

Backed by a workforce of 3,900 shipbuilders, we are now a major employer and economic engine for our province and our country.

A socio-economic study produced by Deloitte assessed the economic contribution of Seaspan’s shipbuilding activities related to the national strategy, together with our repair, refit and maintenance operations, including direct, indirect and induced economic contributions.

The report found that Seaspan Shipyards contributed $5.7 billion to Canada’s GDP, 7,330 annual jobs, $3.8 billion in labour income and $1.4 billion in government revenues from 2012-2022.

In British Columbia alone, we have created close to 6,000 jobs annually and provided about $500 million in government revenues.

These benefits include $2.4 billion in national strategy contracts awarded to more than 700 Canadian suppliers, most of which are small and medium-sized businesses located in British Columbia.

By developing lasting and strategic partnerships with our suppliers, these companies have been given the opportunity to expand and reinvest in training, research and development, new technologies and infrastructure.

And we are proud of the fact that Seaspan has been named an Aboriginal Procurement Champion by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.

This designation is a critical step in our commitment to creating meaningful partnerships, expanding supplier diversity and providing procurement opportunities to nurture growth across Seaspan’s supply chain for Indigenous businesses in Canada.

Over the next 12 years, our activities are forecasted to contribute an additional $20.7 billion to GDP and $5.9 billion in government revenues, while sustaining or creating nearly 11,000 jobs annually and generating more than $13 billion in labour income. Seaspan Shipyards will contribute more than $15 billion to B.C.’s gross domestic product, provide about $2 billion in provincial and municipal tax revenue during this period and create more than 8,300 annual jobs.

We have built an ecosystem of talent that will allow us to bring more work back to British Columbia as we continue to increase the capacity and efficiency of our operations. We are providing skilled trades workers in our province the chance to do rewarding work close to home. And we’re investing in the next generation of marine talent.

We have provided more than $24 million in funding for education and development initiatives across British Columbia to increase skills training and apprenticeship opportunities, while reducing barriers for underrepresented groups such as women and Indigenous people.

As we continue to lead the growth of a West Coast centre of excellence in shipbuilding and ship repair, we are focused on marine innovation and leading technological advancements, especially as we adapt to the new global maritime priority of focusing on environmental consciousness and sustainable shipbuilding strategies.

That means investing in modern technology and manufacturing processes and developing new solutions to reduce the environmental impact of our operations and our customer’s vessels.

British Columbia’s shipbuilding and repair industry has returned to its once-thriving roots, with a renewed sense of optimism for the future.

Seaspan takes great pride in the role we play in creating good paying jobs for British Columbians and serving as a long-term economic driver for our province. And, as we look forward to the decades ahead, we are faced with unprecedented opportunities to showcase our made-in-B.C. success story on the global stage.