Christy Clark boasts B.C. will rival Alberta’s domination once LNG starts flowing; LNG explosion injured one, 17 workers and residents within 2 mile radius evacuated; Industry, federal and provincial governments lying about labour shortages to drive wages down

Christy Clark boasts B.C. will rival Alberta’s domination once LNG starts flowing by Calgary Herald, March 31, 2014
Premier Christy Clark is projecting British Columbia will rival energy giant Alberta in terms of “contribution to Canada” once the province starts exporting liquefied natural gas to Asia. Clark is preaching the gospel of natural gas exports in Ottawa with a large delegation that includes energy industry business people and a few First Nations leaders. The B.C. government used the occasion to sign an accord with the federal government on skills training — preparation, says Clark, for a potentially inflationary labour shortage in her province. The premier is predicting B.C.’s liquefied natural gas industry will soon be competing for labour with Alberta’s oilpatch and Saskatchewan’s potash industry, and says she’s concerned about rising wages. [Emphasis added]

Fire, explosion at Williams natgas facility in Washington state by Selam Gebrekidan and Scott DiSavino in New York and Eileen O’Grady in Houston; editing by Franklin Paul and G Crosseby, March 31, 2014, Reuters 
A liquefied natural gas storage tank at Williams Cos Inc’s facility in southeastern Washington state exploded early on Monday, injuring one worker and requiring nearby residents to be evacuated. The fire and explosion damaged one of two storage tanks at the facility in Plymouth, Washington on the Columbia River separating Washington and Oregon. … In addition to the estimated 17 Williams workers at the facility, local firefighters said they told residents within a two-mile (3.2 km) radius of the area were told to evacuate. There are two tanks at the Plymouth facility. Each tank is capable of holding 1.2 billion cubic feet (bcf) of natural gas. Officials at Williams could not immediately confirm how big the storage tanks are.

Michele Swaner, a spokeswoman at Williams, said they were still investigating the cause of the incident. She said the injured person had burns and they expect him to recover. She said each tank was about half full, which means that about 0.6 billion cubic feet of gas either burned or escaped into the atmosphere. … The fire started at the facility early on Monday and was followed by an explosion in one storage tank, said Ed Dunbar, a captain with the Benton County Fire District office. To create LNG, natural gas is cooled to minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit at which point it condenses into a clear, odorless liquid, according to Williams’ website. The LNG is stored in large tanks, built with a double-wall design, Williams said. [Emphasis added]

Study debunks Canadian labour shortage by Dan Healing, March 28, 2014, Calgary Herald
A second study in less than a week has concluded that there is no labour shortage in Canada, nor is one expected to arrive in the next few decades. A study published Friday by a University of Lethbridge professor echoes results of a report by the federal government’s Parliamentary Budget Office released Tuesday — both conclude there are more than enough workers on a national basis in Canada to fill available jobs. The results have implications for the federal government’s temporary foreign worker program and its Canada Jobs Grant program, as well as local initiatives such as Calgary Economic Development’s mission to Ireland this month to encourage skilled workers to move to Alberta.

Susan McDaniel, the Canada research chair in global population and life course at the university, said Friday her study backed by a federal grant examined national peer-reviewed research on numerous related topics from 2000 to the end of 2013. “We found there were no skill shortages across the country, no labour shortages across the country, but there were pockets of regional shortages and cyclical shortages,” she said. “By cyclical, we mean that there were periods in which shortages exist but they don’t last long. What the evidence says is that’s what has happened throughout Canada’s history, which is not rocket science.”

Moran said about 200 workers were hired because of the previous Irish mission in 2012 — Alberta government statistics show that 348 Irish immigrants came to Alberta between 2007 and 2011, mostly for economic reasons, and 1,384 Irish temporary workers arrived in the same period. Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, said McDaniel’s study is the latest in a series to debunk the labour shortage “myth” being sponsored by employers who want to drive wages lower. … He added he thinks the main reason Calgary employers want to import workers from Ireland is they think they can pay them less than Canadian workers.

In a report last summer, the Calgary-based Petroleum Human Resources Council warned of a pending labour shortage in the oil and gas industry in part because 23 per cent of the industry’s workforce will be eligible to retire over the next decade, leaving about 45,000 positions to be filled. But McDaniel said demographics-based forecasts are missing the fact that more people are deciding not to retire at age 65. “It’s just not borne out by evidence,” she said. “People are working much longer, they’re living longer and they’ve got to support grandchildren and kids who can’t find jobs.”

She added a growing factor are the highly educated women who enter the workforce at a later age and therefore don’t want to retire when their husbands do. McDaniel said her study is based on different measures than the Parliamentary Budget Office report, and its publishing is coincidental, but its conclusions have been reflected in other studies. The report doesn’t offer public policy recommendations but she said it suggests the growth in the foreign temporary worker program may be “blocking” Canadian young people from entry level jobs where they can get valuable initial working experience.

She added the Canada Jobs Grant program, which she likened to a dating service for employers and employees, offers advantages for matching people with careers. McDaniel’s study, which relied on a team of researchers from the universities of Lethbridge, Alberta and Calgary, distilled 219 peer-reviewed articles and reports. It found that Canada has a labour surplus among youth, Aboriginals, disabled persons and unemployed older workers. It added highly skilled immigrants are being “severely underutilized” in the workforce in their fields of expertise due to unrecognized experience and credentials. It predicts the labour force will grow until 2031 but at a slower rate than in recent years. McDaniel said the fact that workers do often move from high unemployment areas in Canada to places with more jobs proves that there is a national job market. [Emphasis added]

McDaniel’s SSHRC study reveals no evidence of labour shortage by University of Lethbridge, March 28, 2014
There is no evidence of a national labour shortage at present or into the foreseeable future, and furthermore, there are large groups of underutilized populations who could join the workforce or be more fully employed. Dr. Susan McDaniel and her team have found that not only is a labour shortage a fallacy but certain segments of the population are severely underutilized.

“The research literature clearly finds that there is no national labour shortage,” says McDaniel, Canada Research Chair in Global Population and Life Course as well as the Prentice Research Chair in Global Population and Economy. “There are skills shortages in some industries and regions, but the literature points to a mismatch of skills rather than a shortage. Reviewed research confirms that hiring difficulties that some employers have are due to normal cycles of the labour market for their specific industry and not a national skilled labour shortage.”

“Canada’s immigration irony is that we attract highly-skilled workers but then fail to utilize, or underutilize, the important skills they bring,” says McDaniel. “As a result, immigrants are not actually meeting the needs of the Canadian labour market.”

The study is of key importance to Canadian policy makers as it creates a knowledge base from which labour market/skills development policies and immigration policy planning can draw.

Following are the seven key findings from the SSHRC Knowledge Synthesis project.

1. There is no evidence of a national labour shortage at present or into the foreseeable future. The labour force is predicted instead to grow until 2031 but at a slower rate of growth.

2. First edge of the baby boom (people now age 65-67) are working longer, so there is less shrinkage in the labour force than originally predicted

3. Last edge of the baby boom (people born 1966) are only 47 years old in 2013, so have about 20 more productive years before leaving the workforce

4. There are pockets of skill shortages and mismatches in specific industry sectors and in specific geographic areas

5. There are large groups of underutilized populations who could join the workforce or be more fully employed, particularly youth, Aboriginals, disabled persons and unemployed older workers

6. Highly-skilled immigrants are being severely underutilized in the workforce in their fields of expertise due to unrecognized experience and credentials

7. Temporary foreign workers support the Canadian economy in lower paying jobs, particularly in the hospitality, food and beverage industries, as well as in higher paying jobs. However they do not receive the same levels of employment security, equity and supports Canadian employees in the same roles do. [Emphasis added]

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