Speaking Notes for the Honourable Peter MacKay at the Procurement Outlook Conference

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Good morning and thank you for the warm welcome.

I am here this morning on behalf of my colleague, Minister Keith Ashfield.  As you may have heard, Keith was recently diagnosed with cancer.  While the cancer is very treatable and his prognosis is excellent, I’d like to ask you all to keep Keith in your thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.

Keith has been a tremendous advocate for the Canadian Coast Guard and the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy and will be missed around the Cabinet table.  I am proud to be here on his behalf to make an important announcement about investing where it counts in the Canadian Coast Guard to ensure it has the vessels and helicopters it needs to do its important job.

In fact, our government has invested more in the Canadian Coast Guard than any government in Canadian history.

In the past three years alone, we have welcomed more than 100 new and more capable vessels to the Coast Guard fleet including:

  • Four Hero-class Vessels on the St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes;
  • The hovercraft CCGS Mamilossa in Quebec;
  • And at strategic locations in all corners of Canada, five Search and Rescue Lifeboats, two Specialty Vessels, three Near-Shore Fishery Research Vessels, 30 environmental barges and 60 small craft.

Indeed, this is the first real investment into renewing the Coast Guard’s fleet since the 1980s.

Many of you in the room this morning represent companies that are experts in building and repairing all manner of seagoing vessels and, of course, we couldn’t deliver new and better ships to our Coast Guard and Navy fleets without the expertise of your industry.

Over the years, you have established your credentials, and along the way helped Canada develop an excellent reputation for its expertise in the shipbuilding industry.

For our part, our government made the strategic and historic decision to support the Canadian marine industry, to revitalize Canadian shipyards and to build ships for the Navy and Coast Guard right here in Canada.

The strategy, which emerged from consultations with the Canadian shipbuilding industry, is about using Canadian shipyards to meet our shipbuilding requirements.

Shipyards were consulted on the development of the strategy, the procurement process, the evaluation methodology and the umbrella agreements.

This innovative strategy brings predictability to federal ship procurement and eliminates cycles of boom and bust, providing benefits to the entire marine industry. 

This is a win for Canada because we are revitalizing our shipbuilding industry and making it internationally competitive like never before.

We know that this unprecedented investment by the Government will create significant industrial and regional benefits in communities across Canada. Canada's marine industry is a key economic driver and the lifeblood of many communities across the country.

The benefits of this strategy to the Canadian economy are staggering.

Beyond providing our Navy and Coast Guard with the ships they need, the Strategy focuses on doing procurement in a smarter and more effective way.

I am proud to be part of a Government delivering on a promise to create good jobs in a variety of industries across Canada and provide much needed ships for the Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard, all through a transparent and arm's-length process.

And I am delighted to tell you that, as part of this process, our Government has earmarked up to $5.2 billion as part of Economic Action Plan 2012 to upgrade, repair, replace and augment the Canadian Coast Guard’s fleet of vessels and helicopters.

Some of the work is already underway.  In February, Minister Ashfield announced the Vessel Life Extension package which will upgrade, repair and refit 16 of the Coast Guard’s large vessels and two of its hovercraft.

Over the next 10 years we will invest $360 million in vessel life extension and modernization work. That will create jobs across Canada, while also positioning the Coast Guard for its future.

T he CCGS Amundsen is an example of one of the vessel life extension projects. After spending her winter in the care of Seaway Marine and Industrial Inc. in St. Catharine’s, I am pleased to say that the Amundsen is back in full service for the 2013 summer Arctic season.

Vessel Life Extension work on the other vessels will begin as early as next year and the work is open to all Canadian shipyards based on a competitive, open and fair process through the NSPS.

All of these projects to extend the lives of vessels in the Coast Guard Fleet will be completed through publicly announced Requests for Proposals, also within the context of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.

In addition, last year alone, the Coast Guard took delivery of seven new vessels. For example, we accepted into service the CCGS Vladykov built in Matane, Quebec by Méridien Maritime and the CCGS S. Dudka, constructed by ABCO Industries Limited in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.  

The Dudka is a 48-foot specialty vessel used for Conservation and Protection patrols out of its home port in Alberton, Prince Edward Island. The Vladykov is a capable new 25-meter science vessel stationed out of St. John’s. This year we expect to welcome another four new vessels into the fleet.

The Coast Guard is also well on its way in the process for new helicopters and the design and planning phases for the new Polar Icebreaker – the CCGS John G. Diefenbaker – are also quite far along in their process.

As the renewal of the Coast Guard fleet progresses, the focus continues to be on sustainability, affordability and value for money.

Today, I am here to make an announcement that will build on the successes we’ve already achieved for the Coast Guard under the NSPS.

I am pleased to announce that – as part of the $5.2 billion earmarked in Economic Action Plan 2012 – our government will invest up to $488 million to acquire between 18 and 21 new vessels for the Coast Guard Fleet. These vessels will be open to bidding by shipyards across the country.

And I am pleased to make this announcement right here to all of you because it could potentially impact the very yards you represent in a very positive way.

Let me repeat that number for you because it is a significant investment. We will invest $488 million to outfit the Coast Guard with new Search and Rescue Lifeboats, Specialty Vessels, Near-Shore Fishery Research Vessels, Channel Survey and Sounding Vessels, Mid-Shore Science Vessels and Special Navaids Vessels.

Construction of these new vessels is expected to start in 2014 and they will be built over the next seven years. They will replace existing vessels in the Coast Guard fleet across the country and the procurement will be managed as part of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy .

Contracts will be available for competitive bids by Canadian shipyards that were not selected for the large ship packages under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy – in other words, yards other than Irving and Seaspan. The construction work will support small and medium sized shipyards and businesses, and create jobs in every region of the country.

The Coast Guard operates along the longest coastline in the world, as well as the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence Seaway system, and the Mackenzie River. Our ships and people are mission-ready 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and operate in almost all conditions. They provide services to commercial shippers, ferry operators, fishermen, recreational boaters, ports, coastal communities, other federal government departments and the general public.

I am excited about the steps the Coast Guard is taking to keep itself mission-ready as we move into the future.

With our fleet renewal plan, the Coast Guard will be able to ensure that it has modern and efficient assets that will enable it to carry out its mandate, continue to meet on-water maritime priorities effectively, and serve Canadians now and well into the future.

Moreover, we are giving Canadian shipyards and communities across Canada an economic boost by making strategic investments through the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.

Thank you.