It has been an historic week in the Legislature, our first week of the fall session. A final investment decision was announced which will lead to the development of a multi-billion dollar LNG industry in British Columbia. The same day, our government tabled a bill that will lead to a long overdue poverty reduction strategy.
Tens of thousands of jobs will be created during the construction and then operation of the LNG facility in Kitimat along with the construction of the pipeline from the gas fields in northeast BC. It is anticipated it will generate $23 billion in public revenue over 40 years.
The LNG industry is controversial. Our government has been very clear that we would accept its development if it met certain conditions. They are: a fair return on our resources, guaranteed jobs and training opportunities for the people of BC, that First Nations are fully involved as respected partners and that the province’s land, water and air are protected.
The LNG project that was announced will be the world’s cleanest in terms of greenhouse gas emissions; and it will be accommodated in our climate action plan, due to be announced later this year. As it is, our government has already committed to meeting stringent GHG targets – at 40 percent below 2007 levels by 2030, 60 percent by 2040 and 80 percent ten years later.
The revenue generated by this project will make a huge difference for the people of BC. It will help pay for housing, for healthcare, for public transit and highways. And it will be a real investment in our fight against poverty.
Over the last number of years we have seen other provinces design and implement poverty reduction strategies, but the previous BC Liberal government did nothing. I am proud that our government introduced a bill which will pave the way for a BC strategy. The bill itself is slight in page numbers but will have a great impact.
It commits government to reducing our overall poverty rate by 25 percent and child poverty by 50 percent in five years. An independent advisory committee will be created which will include those with personal and professional experience dealing with poverty. And there will be annual reporting on government progress. The Strategy will be ready by next spring.
As Minister of Transportation, I have been answering questions in Question Period about our Community Benefits Agreement, the framework under which a number of major projects will be built. Any contractor, whether they are union or not, can make bids on the projects; the worksites will be union. The benefits are that hiring preference will be given to those living within 100km of the project, that indigenous people, women and those who are not usually able to get work on such projects have opportunities to be hired and that apprenticeships will be guaranteed on projects.
Through this, we will help tackle the skills shortage that BC is facing as well as investing in communities. It is an exciting way forward although not unique. The John Hart Generating Station in Campbell River was built under a similar agreement, as were most hydro projects since the early 1960s.
I’ve had a number of queries from constituents about when Blair Redlin’s report on BC Ferries will be released: it will be later this fall.
Although we have only been back at the Legislature for a week, we will not be there next week, because of Thanksgiving. I am looking forward to the Trailblazers event at Campbell River’s Maritime Heritage Centre on Tuesday evening. I will also be doing Ministerial work for a couple of days out of the constituency but be back by the weekend.