Alberta job fair attracts hundreds in Fredericton

Hundreds of people lined up Tuesday in Fredericton at a job fair hosted by seven Alberta companies looking for workers.

7 companies looking to hire up to 1,400 pipefitters immediately, organizer says

A Fredericton job fair, put on by seven Alberta companies looking for workers, attracted hundreds of people on Tuesday. 3:20

Hundreds of people lined up Tuesday in Fredericton at a job fair hosted by seven Alberta companies looking for workers.

One of the organizers, Susan Reade, predicts many people will leave the job fair with a job offer.

The companies want to hire 1,200 to 1,400 pipefitters immediately. They're also looking for construction workers and general labourers, she said.

And they're offering good salaries, said Reade. A crane operator, for example, can make between $42 and $48 an hour, she said.

The job fair in Fredericton attracted hundreds of men and women of all ages. (CBC)

Reade says it may be painful to see New Brunswickers packing up to leave for Alberta, but workers who do relocate gain valuable experience that could eventually bring them back home.

"In Alberta we're really rooting for this pipeline to be built to the east, extending to the refinery in Saint John that the Irvings have, and I know they're under-capacity and we have oil that would need piping somewhere," she said.

"So that could be part of the solution down the road in getting the skills now by working in Alberta … You'd be in a great position for those jobs if and when that pipeline gets built."

Reade is encouraging young families to make a five-year commitment and look at it as an adventure.

"You know, we're not saying take up your roots and never come back," she said.

"You could come back and be in a much stronger position — you'd have enough money to buy a house outright. If you're a 20-year-old guy, come work for five years, come back, buy a house and have your education ready to be paid for."

Earlier this month, TransCanada Corp. announced it was seeking firm financial commitments from companies looking to ship crude oil from western Canada to refineries in eastern Canada.

The Calgary-based company's proposal is to convert 3,000 kilometres of its natural gas pipelines to allow for crude oil to be transported. The company would also be looking at building 1,400 kilometres of new pipeline from Quebec into Saint John.

The pipeline could carry between 500,000 and 850,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to the eastern refineries, according to the company.

Premier David Alward has called the announcement an "encouraging step forward" and "historic initiative."

The project has the possibility of creating 2,000 jobs during the construction phase of the pipeline and a few hundred refining jobs after, according to some estimates.

Alward was in Alberta in February, trying to work out the logistics of building a pipeline from the oil sands to the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John. He met with Alberta producers and government officials to beef up support for the project.

The Irving refinery, the largest in Canada, currently processes 300,000 barrels of oil a day and could move up to a million per day, officials have said.