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BC and China sign MOU to allow foreign workers to expand LNG industry

Rich Coleman, Minister of Natural Gas Development, and Wu Xinxiong, Administrator of the National Energy Administration (NEA), sign the agreement in the presence of Premier Christy Clark. Photo from BC Government Flickr page.

B.C. and China have signed a memorandum of understanding that will bring foreign workers, if needed, to help build the province's growing LNG industry. 

The agreement reads: 

"The Participants will, in accordance with their respective applicable laws and regulations, and respecting the priority of hiring domestic labour whenever possible, work together with the appropriate authorities to secure and facilitate the entry of foreign workers." 

The 16 proposed LNG projects in BC are said to bring a potential 100,000 jobs to the province. Coleman said certain jobs won't be filled by British Columbia-based workers, due to positions requiring specialized experience in the LNG industry. 

"Strengthening relationships with our trade partners in China creates unprecedented growth opportunities for our province’s natural gas sector,” Minister of Natural Gas Development Rich Coleman said. “Working together will accelerate LNG development and job creation in British Columbia and help China reach its need for a new energy supply.”

Some critics worry that it will lead to further use of temporary foreign workers to fill positions that could have gone to British Columbians.  

“There’s a throwaway line about local jobs, but what it says is we’re going to do anything and everything we need to do to make sure you’ve got the temporary foreign workers if you need them and want them," NDP critic Shane Simpson told the Vancouver Sun. 

The MOU is not legally binding, and can be terminated by either party with one month notice. The use of temporary foreign workers has sparked controversy in Alberta and BC in recent years. In Alberta's oil patch, workers have complained that temporary workers from countries like Croatia had replaced dozens of Canadians who had just been laid off,  while in BC, two unions sued a mining company for bringing in 200 Chinese workers to work on a coal mine in Northeast BC. The unions' case was dismissed in May. 

Read the full MOU here: 

MOU BC China July 24 14

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