Local 793 has made a considerable investment in a new pipeline training course at the OETIO, showing its commitment to the industry, business manager Mike Gallagher said at a media event to launch the program Sept. 29 at the campus in Morrisburg.

“We are really showing a commitment to our industry,” he said in remarks at the event. “I am very, very proud of what we’ve done here.”

The local purchased two John Deere 850 sidebooms at a cost of $1.35 million and two used D6 dozers for $373,000 to be used in the three-week pipeline training courses.

The union is also putting $11 million into renovations of the OETIO building, he noted.

The first pipeline training course kicked off in June. The OETIO plans to hold eight courses a year in Morrisburg.

The media event was held to showcase the program and give contractors an opportunity to view field training in progress at the OETIO.

Contractors were shown a pipeline training video and were taken on a tour of the site.

Gallagher noted in his remarks that there will be a demand for more pipeline operators if the Energy East project gets the green light.

The project would transport about 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries and port terminals in eastern Canada. The pipeline would run 4,600 kilometres and pass through Ontario.

Gallagher said the project would employ more than 3,000 Operating Engineers across the country “so it shows the value to the Canadian economy that this job will bring.”

He noted that pipelines are the safest way to move oil and it would be foolish not to go ahead with it, as there are refineries already built in the east that could handle the oil.

He encouraged politicians of all stripes to take a look at the economic benefits that the pipeline would bring to Canada.

“It will bring good jobs across the country. We all need to get behind it and build it with Canadian workers.”

IUOE Canadian regional director Lionel Railton said Local 793 and the OETIO have shown their commitment to the industry with their investment in the pipeline training program.

Pipelines like Energy East are “nation-building projects” and the Operating Engineers are ready and willing to build them, so “let’s get it done,” he said in his remarks.

John Soini, Energy East project director at TransCanada Pipe Lines, said in remarks at the event that he was “extremely impressed” with the OETIO and the training program.

He said the program and OETIO campus will enable workers to get the skills needed to meet the demand for planned pipeline projects.

He also noted that TransCanada is committed to using the skilled trades and 76 per cent of pipeline work done by the company across Canada has been given to unionized companies.

“I am pleased that our company has a long history of working with the building trades,” he said.

Soini thanked the OETIO for investing in the skills training of pipeline workers.

“Having Operating Engineers involved in Energy East will make sure this pipeline gets built right.”