There is scant evidence for the “mythical” 15,000 jobs that Kinder Morgan claims its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will create, economist Robyn Allan argues in a scathing analysis published this week in the Vancouver Province.
Yet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr, and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley have all adopted the figure as their own, as the roiling battle over the project continues.
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In its initial submission to the National Energy Board, Allan notes, Kinder Morgan said construction employment would average 2,500 workers per year over two years. But the company’s website now claims that “during construction, the anticipated work force will reach the equivalent of 15,000 jobs per year.” When Allan pressed the company for an explanation, it attributed the figure back to two reports from the Conference Board of Canada—which indicate 58,037 person-years of project development employment over seven years, beginning in 2012.
Allan writes that the figure was based on an economic input-output model that could be counted on to deliver “highly exaggerated results”. But even then, the math didn’t work, until Kinder Morgan explained it had divided the Conference Board total by a project period of three years and 10 months.
“I asked Kinder Morgan why almost four years was chosen as the time horizon for construction, when the project will take two,” she reports. “This is when the company stopped answering my questions on construction employment.”
The net result, she says, is that the oft-repeated claim of 15,000 construction jobs is meaningless to the point of absurdity.
“Kinder Morgan divided 48 months into the Conference Board project development figure, then multiplied it by 12 months to arrive at 15,000 jobs a year,” Allan writes. “Inappropriately, the figure was then renamed as construction work force. It is unbelievable. It is a misuse of Input Output model results and a deceptive relabelling.”
Allyn’s conclusion: “Trans Mountain’s 15,000 construction work force jobs are a scam. The more realistic figure is less than 20% that size. It is a betrayal of the public trust that Trudeau, Carr, and Notley so eagerly got behind Kinder Morgan’s manipulated jobs figure without checking to make sure it made any sense.”