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B.C. government should “buy Canadian” for Massey Tunnel replacement

October 25, 2023 | Media Releases
Made in China steel pipes from the Pattullo Bridge project

The United Steelworkers union (USW) welcomes the news that the Massey Tunnel replacement project is moving to the next steps, the USW is reminding governments that it is time to focus on using more local goods and materials.

“Governments always claim trade laws prohibit them from “buying Canadian,” but there is a lot more that governments can do to make sure we are investing in Canadian workers, especially when public dollars are used for such projects,” said Scott Lunny, USW Director for Western Canada.

“You cannot tell workers that you are investing in the environment while at the same time allowing the highest-emitting producers of steel and other products to dump their unfairly cheapened goods into our market,” added Lunny.

USW is asking governments to consider Scope 3 carbon emissions and the emissions from the goods and materials they purchase for infrastructure projects, like the Massey Tunnel replacement.

“We know our environmental and labour standards are better here in Canada, but instead we open the doors for cheap and non-environmentally friendly imports like the Chinese steel used for the Pattullo Bridge replacement project. Our workers and manufacturers are the ones paying the carbon tax and they deserve the opportunity to make the steel and other materials for this project,” said Lunny.

The union has been calling on the federal government to institute a border-adjustment carbon tax or levy on imported goods that Canada already produces.

“We need provinces and local governments to join our call for a border-adjustment carbon tax and to market our goods internationally for their high quality and lower environmental footprint,” said Lunny.

The union has lauded the community benefits agreement model for provincial capital projects and what it has meant for workers in the construction trades, particularly for younger workers and underrepresented equity groups.

“While the community benefits model has been positive for workers, it is time for the government to pay attention to the goods and materials it buys as well. It is frustrating to hear people complain about supply chains, but then not doing anything with procurement opportunities to strengthen domestic manufacturing, makes it worse,” said Lunny.

On October 17, 2023, the final report of the “Responsible Minerals & Metals Recommendations” was released and called on the government to consider responsible minerals sourcing criteria for government procurement. The recommendation urged the government to assess options, implications and provide recommended direction on the inclusion of responsible minerals and metals sourcing criteria in provincial government procurement processes.

“With the Massey Tunnel replacement project, the government has an opportunity to procure high-quality Canadian-made products that will have a positive environmental impact. I urge the government to strongly consider the final report from the Responsible Minerals and Metals Recommendation,” added Lunny.

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Media Contact

Scott Lunny
USW Western Canada Director

Brett Barden
USW Communications

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