B.C. Jobs Minister Shirley Bond is touting new figures that predict more than 100,000 jobs are coming to the province thanks to the liquefied natural gas industry — but opposition critics wonder if the province can train enough people to fill the positions.
The report by the B.C. Natural Gas Workforce Strategy Committee estimates 60,000 workers will be needed to build LNG plants and pipelines starting in 2016, and 75,000 workers will be needed to keep them running after that.
Bond is thrilled by the prospect.
"We're going to have a lot of jobs looking for people," she said.
But opposition critics like Vancouver–Point Grey NDP MLA David Eby wonder if the government is prepared.
He says the province is spending a million dollars to advertise skills training programs, yet there are one- to three-year wait lists for those courses at Kwantlen College and BCIT.
Bond admits there is not yet a plan in place to train the skilled workers that will be needed.
"Our priority is to have British Columbians have these jobs first, but even if we look at every British Columbian that can or wants to work in our province, we're going to have to look at recruiting others from across Canada," she said.
"The other issue that we have to look at is how are we aligning our training with the kind of needs that the LNG industry alone has identified?"
Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk says expansion plans are in the works.
"In the next 30 to 60 days there will be a great deal of discussions happening with the industry," he said.
"Then we can provide you in an informed number on a timeline of how many jobs, what kinds of skills, where they're going to be needed and when they're going to be needed."