In the debate over pipelines and mines, we often hear that the jobs these projects would create are not permanent.
If the Ajax mine goes ahead, and we’re not sure it will, its expected lifespan would be about 20 years.
Some of those who are opposed to the project have emphasized the limited lifespan, and asked what the workers will do when the mine finally shuts down.
The same question is asked about pipeline jobs. They’re only temporary. Then what?
We’d like to point out that all construction jobs are only temporary. They only last until the job is done. But that doesn’t diminish their value. When the project is finished, the workers pack up their sense of satisfaction and go home. All the designers, engineers, architects, surveyors, truckers, arc welders, bolt tighteners, hammer swingers, shovel wielders, rock busters, painters and polishers and the cleanup crew, and the person who sells them sandwiches, all pack up and leave.
The next stop is the next job. If there’s a mine in operation, or a pipeline under construction, or a hydroelectric dam being built or a highway going through, they have another source of income.
These jobs, “temporary” as they are, are a big deal. Together, they build careers. They even make the nation’s invisible resources good for something and in so doing, they provide housing, hospitals and transportation networks. They build the nation and give us everything we enjoy in life today.
It was these temporary jobs that made Canada what it is today, a country that many people around the world wish they could live in. And without those “temporary” jobs in future, Canada will diminish. Ideals and fancy wishes don’t build or maintain anything.
Callused hands on temporary jobs do.
In a resource-rich country like Canada, “non-permanent” jobs dominate from coast to coast to coast. Relative to the population as a whole, there are only a few who can have tenure or some other indirect government guarantee of lasting employment.
And with unforeseeable cutbacks, any employment or contract can draw to a close unexpectedly.
What working Canadians hope for and work toward is not necessarily a job for life. What they are working for is a career that’s made up of individual jobs and contracts and placements and commissions.
Neither Canada nor B.C. needs “permanent” jobs. But we need ongoing income with which to meet our responsibilities, including paying for people who scoff at five, 10 or 20 years of employment with a mine or a pipeline.
No. We’re glad to have those jobs. And, without trying to be overly dramatic, we have a sense of national pride that we have these options and resources, and the skills to make the most of them.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by editor Robert Koopmans, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, news editor Mike Cornell or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.