Hundreds of people showed up Sunday to march in support of the Davie shipyard in Lévis, Que., as employees and politicians joined forces to ask the federal government to step in and stave off hundreds of impending job cuts.
The company, which has been slowly recovering since almost going bankrupt five years ago, now says that 800 employees could be out of work in the near future if they don't get another big government contract.
Premier Philippe Couillard was in attendance at the rally, and called on the federal government to send more contracts Davie's way.
"If we stand together, we'll win this war," Couillard told the assembled crowd.
Ann Gingras, who works for the Québec-Chaudière-Appalaches branch of the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), said that it's not fair that shipyards in Nova Scotia and Vancouver get a majority of the federal contracts. She estimated the value of those contracts around $33 billion in total.
Gingras said all they want is for the federal government to even the playing field a little.
"What we want is contracts. We're not asking for charity or a handout. We want fair treatment compared with the other shipyards."
Due to a lack of work since the delivery of their last federal contract job in July, 113 employees have been laid off.
Gingras expects another 300 to 400 workers will lose their jobs next week if no other contract materializes.
Coalition Avenir Québec MNA for Lévis, François Paradis, pointed to the shipyard's successful completion of the Asterix vessel for the Royal Canadian Navy, saying that good work should be rewarded.
"The Asterix was delivered on time and on budget," said Paradis. "We have more questions than answers. We have a federal government that must respond. Today, what we're saying togethe is 'wake up.'"
Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau responded by saying that the government will continue to "analyze the situation," but that "we can't artificially create a need that doesn't exist."
"There could be something in the future, future opportunities for Davie shipbuilding," Garneau told reporters Sunday.
He would not confirm when a new contract might be coming for Davie or what it could involve.