From the moment the idea was first raised, Port Saint John, servicing our entire province, has been a strong supporter of the proposed Energy East pipeline that will bring western crude from Alberta to Eastern Canada.
It is true the pipeline will help the port grow, and increase our business and commercial activity, but first and foremost, this is a project that benefits the entire province. From Saint John to Edmundston to Shippagan and beyond, we’ve seen what impact our struggling economy has had on our communities and families in New Brunswick. Jobs have been hard to find and when that happens, people start looking elsewhere for work.
In fact, a lot of our young and skilled workers have already left the province to pursue opportunities in the oil and gas industry.
Energy East isn’t going to change that by itself, but it will go a long way to turn the economic tide in New Brunswick. This project will create more than 4,000 full time jobs throughout the province in the development, construction and operational phases of the project. That’s going to provide lots of opportunities for New Brunswickers who want to stay home and work, something that is sorely needed in the coming years.
And what’s also exciting about Energy East is that it gives New Brunswick an opportunity to become a more important player in the oil and gas industry. A recent report indicated that the oil and gas industry accounts for 20 per cent of private sector investment in Canada, and the sector is a big reason our country weathered the global economic storm of 2008 and 2009 better than most. With our refinery, LNG plant and related industries, New Brunswick already has a foothold in the sector. Energy East allows our port to become a gateway to the world for western crude, making us a powerful player in world markets.
At Port Saint John we believe this is an opportunity we can’t let slip through our fingers. It was great to see our Mayor and the Chairman of Enterprise Saint John appear before a Commons committee in Ottawa recently. The message was clear. This is an opportunity for the province to thrive without handouts from the public purse. Please let us succeed.
During the development and construction of this project many workers will be needed. New Brunswick-based companies will have the opportunity to bid on different contracts related to the construction and TransCanada is committed to using local companies and workers wherever possible. There will be spinoff business and jobs for motels, stores, trucking firms and suppliers of hardware and construction materials.
At Port Saint John, the main benefit will be seen once construction is complete, with increased shipping activity to and from our facilities. What’s advantageous for us is that we are very experienced with handling this type of cargo at our port. We are Eastern Canada’s largestport facility, currently handling over 28 million metric tonnes of cargo each year. Much of that business involves the import of crude and export of petroleum products produced by the largest refinery in Canada right here in Saint John. We have the expertise and desire to seamlessly and safely handle the increased activity that would be generated by Energy East.
Jobs are the first and foremost concern in our province now as we look to keep our people home. But it’s important to remember that Energy East will also generate roughly $700 million in tax revenue for the province, according to a report on the economic impact of the pipeline by Deloitte. That will go a long way to helping us control our provincial deficit and debt over the long term. That means less pressure on our health care and education systems, and better roads and services throughout the province. The positive impact of Energy East will be province-wide and long-lasting.
This is a critical year for Energy East as it formally enters the approval process. We believe it’s important that we rally together as a province, and make the argument that this is a project our province needs and wants in order to thrive. Port Saint John is only too happy to add its voice of support. As so many have noted, as goes the Port so goes the city and we believe so goes our Province. And that is something we should all be striving for.
Peter Gaulton is Chairman of Port Saint John. Jim Quinn is its President and CEO.