Your editorial supporting the B.C. government’s decision to open BC Ferries’ construction bids to foreign ship builders missed key points.
First, B.C. ship builders are not competing on a level playing field with foreign shipbuilders. These foreign builders benefit from significant government support and subsidies, subsidies not available to B.C. based builders.
Second, a significant portion of the cost of ferry construction is in wages. Employing British Columbians returns a significant portion of those wages to government in the form of taxes and in savings on Employment Insurance payments.
Third, building locally also involves procuring supplies locally and wages being spent locally, spreading the benefit of ship construction across the B.C. economy.
If the B.C. government’s bid process accurately accounted for the benefits of building locally, B.C. builders would be the hands-down winner.
Unfortunately, while foreign governments like Germany’s understand the real economic value of building ships locally, it appears our government does not.
Jim Sinclair, president B.C. Federation of Labour