The CBC’s Terry Milewski on the Harper government’s much-heralded shipbuilding program which is far more expensive than it needs to be — because of the demand that the work be done in Canada — and yet somehow doesn’t even manage to create Canadian jobs:
Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose and Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced March 7 in Halifax that Ottawa will pay Irving Shipbuilding $288 million just to design — not build — a fleet of new Arctic offshore patrol ships.
Irving will then build the ships under a separate contract.
However, a survey of similar patrol ships bought by other countries shows they paid a fraction of that $288 million to actually build the ships — and paid less than a tenth as much for the design.
In addition, the design of Canada’s new ships is based upon a Norwegian vessel whose design Ottawa has already bought for just $5 million.
The Norwegian ship, the Svalbard, was designed and built for less than $100 million in 2002.
Experts say the design price is normally 10-20 per cent of the total cost of the ships.
But don’t worry … jobs are being created or saved by this major Canadian government project … in Denmark and in the United States:
Another criticism of the project is that much of the design work — in a project meant to create Canadian jobs — is actually going overseas.
Although Irving will manage the design project in Nova Scotia, it has subcontracted the actual production of final blueprints to a Danish firm, OMT. Seventy Danish ship architects will work on those.
The job of designing the systems integration is going to Lockheed Martin and the propulsion system will be designed by General Electric, both U.S. companies.
This is only to be expected, say supporters of the project.
“We’ve been dormant here for better than two decades now. We don’t have the skill sets inside the industry,” said Ken Hansen, editor of the Canadian Naval Review in Dartmouth, N.S.