The provincial government in B.C. has announced $69 million to fund a new series of measures aimed at supporting British Columbia forest workers impacted by mill closures and shift reductions in several B.C. Interior communities.
The Interior forest industry has been reducing production in an effort to adjust to the end of the mountain pine beetle harvest and the devastating 2017 and 2018 fire seasons.
“The previous government knew that the end of mountain pine beetle harvest would disrupt the lives of forest workers, contractors and communities, but they did little to prepare for this inevitable transition,” said Premier John Horgan.
“While the forest sector must reduce surplus milling capacity to remain competitive, it cannot do so at the expense of the workers, contractors and communities who built the industry. Our government will ensure that forest workers impacted by mill closures are supported.”
Premier Horgan and Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, met with the chief executive officers of the major Interior forest companies to set out measures to support forest workers in the months and years ahead. Those measures include:
“The Province is committed to supporting the people impacted by this change, but we need the forest industry and the federal government to step up and do their part as well,” Donaldson said. “I’m hopeful that the Interior forest sector recognizes that the new industry that will arise from this transition will need skilled, experienced workers to produce new forest products that can compete in global markets.”
Donaldson called on the forest industry to increase supports for impacted workers, ensure key corporate leaders are working on the industry transition and ensure that it does a better job of communicating effectively with affected workers and communities.
“The forest industry and its workers have built the success of the industry and bolstered B.C.’s economy for decades,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “I am pleased that my ministry can help deliver solutions that provide direct and tangible support to workers impacted by current challenges in the forest industry and that will help sustain family-supporting jobs in communities that are home to the industry and its workers.”