The final report of the National Shipbuilding and Industrial Marine Partnership recommends that the Canadian government designate Canada's shipbuilding and marine fabrication industry a national priority and revitalize the sector with cost-effective and workable policy action. The report, entitled Breaking Through, states that Canada's shipbuilding industry is technologically advanced and competitive on price and quality but that existing domestic shipbuilding policies are inadequate to combat unfair competition from other countries.
The Canadian shipbuilding and marine fabrication industry has been crippled by widespread subsidies in the range of 20% to 40% from dozens of foreign countries. In addition, the Jones Act in the U.S. has been very damaging. The Act blocks Canadian shipyards from selling ships to the United States, a restriction faced by no other Canadian industry. Breaking Through presents a series of recommendations that will allow the national government to work with industry to improve the sector's prospects, without the use of subsidies. "This proposed action plan is practical and can produce tangible results quickly, as long as the political will is there," said Peter Woodward, one of four Partnership Co-Chairs and Vice-President of the Woodward Group of Companies, speaking at a news conference in Halifax. "Implementation of these workable recommendations will strengthen an industry with a proud Canadian tradition and ultimately bring economic, technological and social benefits to all of Canada."
The report contains several recommendations aimed at making Canadian shipyards and related businesses a sustainable industry. The Partnership calls on the national government to press for elimination and relaxation of unfair practices by other nations. In addition, the report points out that the sector can be rejuvenated through relatively straightforward measures: policy adjustments, more effective enforcement of existing policies, better financing mechanisms, improved focus on the key markets and issues and a stronger partnership between the industry and federal and provincial governments. Among the key recommendations are a call for stronger government-industry partnerships to focus on high prospect areas such as offshore oil and gas, and improved federal procurement policy, with a recommitment to procure, refit and overhaul ships in Canada.
Copies of the Breaking Through report are available on Industry Canada's Web site http://strategis.gc.ca/shipbuilding.