Benefits deal for Newfoundland, Nova Scotia in effect for Maritime Link

BOTTOM BROOK, N.L. – An agreement has taken effect that aims to ensure that businesses and residents of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador benefit from economic opportunities associated with the construction of the Maritime Link.

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador said Wednesday that an industrial and employment benefits agreement is in place with Nova Scotia and utility Emera (TSX:EMA) as work ramps up on the $1.6-billion subsea link between the two provinces.

Chris Huskilson, president and CEO of Emera, said more than $100 million has already been awarded to local companies with more to come.

Nova Scotia Energy Minister Andrew Younger attended the announcement and a ground breaking ceremony for the start of construction of the link in Bottom Brook, N.L.

Younger said Emera officials had confirmed the project is on time and on budget.

“At this point pretty well all the major contracts have been awarded, so I think it would be very surprising if it was over budget or not on time,” said Younger.

He said that under the agreement, which is part of the original memorandum of understanding signed between the provinces in 2011, qualified local companies are to be given preference for various aspects of the project.

The exception is in areas where the expertise doesn’t currently exist locally, as is the case with the construction of the 170-kilometre subsea cable, Younger said.

Nexans S.A. of Paris was awarded that particular contract.

“The port servicing and the support services for that work will come from Nova Scotia and Newfoundland,” Younger said.

Construction of the subsea cable is expected to create an average of 300 jobs per year in both provinces, with peak employment expected in 2016.

There are already about 200 people working on the project, which will connect Newfoundland with Cape Breton as part of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development in Labrador.

The project is expected to be completed in 2017.