Oil sands jobs should stay in Canada, not be shipped to China

AFL to make final arguments against Northern Gateway Pipeline

EDMONTON – The Alberta Federation of Labour is making the case that the Northern Gateway Pipeline is not in the best interests of Canadians.

At a hearing today in Terrace, B.C., the AFL will argue that the pipeline, if approved, will ship some of our country’s best potential jobs down the pipeline to China. In its presentation to the National Energy Board, the AFL will show that it makes economic sense to upgrade bitumen in Alberta – or at least in Canada – rather than exporting it raw to foreign markets.

“The proponents of this project have compared the pipeline to the CPR and called it an important piece of Canadian infrastructure. But the Northern Gateway Pipeline is a piece of Chinese infrastructure, not Canadian infrastructure,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “The ownership structure of the pipeline shows that the project will benefit China’s state-owned oil companies, shipping good-paying oil sands jobs to Asia.”

To date, evidence presented to the Joint Review panel considering the pipeline shows that:

  • the pipeline will create only 228 permanent jobs in Canada
  • only 1,500 construction jobs will be created for three years, then nothing more
  • the Northern Gateway Pipeline will drive up costs for Canadian refineries more than $800 million, which could lead to refinery closures.

The AFL’s evidence shows:

  • At least 26,000 Canadian jobs would be created if we upgraded/refined the bitumen destined for China here at home.

“If we want Cadillac prices for our resources, then we have to sell a Cadillac product,” McGowan said. “And that means selling upgraded bitumen, called synthethic crude, rather than raw bitumen. Some country is going to capture the value and create the jobs. We think that country should be Canada, not China.”

The AFL’s arguments against the Northern Gateway pipeline are the product of more than two years of sifting through evidence and participating in cross-examination on the economic benefits of the project.

The AFL represents 160,000 Alberta workers, including 25,000 in energy and energy-related construction.

“Governments at all levels pay lip service to wanting to keep good jobs in Canada,” McGowan said, adding this is this is the AFL’s fourth intervention against raw bitumen exports in recent years. “Through these pipeline hearings, Alberta’s unions are holding governments to their word. Oil sands jobs belong to Albertans first.”

AFL president Gil McGowan will be available for comment at 3:00 P.M. at the United Nurses of Alberta offices, 700-11150 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton.

AFL Backgrounder: AFL final arguments against the Northern Gateway Pipeline



Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780-289-6528 (cell) or via email