BC Hydro FOI Reveals 35% of Workers on Site C From Out Of Province

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Freedom of Information request made by the BC Building Trades on December 3rd has finally returned a response from BC Hydro after 103 days. In the response, BC Hydro confirmed only 65% of the 482 construction workers on the Site C project in November were from BC.

The FOI follows claims from Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett to the Vancouver Sun in December that 75% of the workers were from BC.

“These early figures prove our and the public’s concern that BC workers are not being given the priority they deserve on this project”, said Tom Sigurdson, Executive Director of the BC Building Trades. “Over 5,000 people attended the job fairs in northern BC hoping for an opportunity, perhaps they should have applied at the Petrowest Head Office in Calgary Alberta.”

In November, the majority of construction work on the Site C project was tied to ground clearing, excavation, road work and camp construction. “There is no shortage of British Columbians who have the skills and qualifications to perform the early work on the Site C project. If contractors are already drawing 35% of the workforce from out of province at this stage in the project, who knows what will happen as the project moves forward,” Sigurdson said.

"The FOI response clearly shows the information provided to Minister Bill Bennett was incorrect. On behalf of the British Columbians who are unemployed, the Minister should explain how it is his numbers were so drastically wrong. Did he have bad data from BC Hydro or was this another arbitrary number like the $3 billion in extra costs he suggested in October to the Alaska Highway News a BC workforce would add to the project," said Sigurdson.

The BC Building Trades also requested information on the number of apprentices on the Site C project. This FOI response revealed that only 26 apprentices worked on the project out of a total workforce of 482 in the month of November 2015. That's 5% of the workforce. Well below the government's stated goal of 25% on public projects.

“We have been concerned for well over a year by BC Hydro’s management of the construction workforce at Site C," said Sigurdson "It’s an important project for the future of the province and one we support, but the approach BC Hydro is taking risks its on-time, on-budget construction. The results of this FOI request add to our concerns, and we think those of the public, regarding a lack of commitment to hiring British Columbians and a disregard for the government’s own goal of the number of apprentices who should be working at taxpayer-funded projects.”

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