On September 17, the BC NDP government announced they are investing $69 million in support programs for forestry workers in the Interior of the province. The area has been hard-hit by recent mill closures and shift reductions, and the sector as a whole has faced many challenges over the past decade.
“Entire communities in the BC Interior have been threatened because of the challenges facing the forestry industry and the 16 years of poor forest policy under the previous BC Liberal government,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Western Regional Director. “Between raw log exports, years of raging forest fires, the pine beetle infestations, and the U.S. tariffs on softwood lumber, it’s been an incredibly challenging time. We’re thankful the government is focusing on workers and providing them with much-needed support.”
Premier Horgan announced the programs would include establishing early-retirement bridging for older forestry workers, new short-term employment focusing on fire prevention, new worker training, and short-term financial assistance to communities hit hardest by mill closures.
“We know the forestry sector can thrive if corporations, communities and all levels of government work together to create a forward-looking strategy,” said McGarrigle. “Right now, we’re having to deal with years of mismanagement under the previous government so this support for workers and their families is essential as we focus on revitalization.”
Unifor has been outspoken on issues facing the forestry sector, including softwood lumber tariffs that have recently been put under review by a NAFTA panel.
Visit the BC government’s website for more information on the support programs for forestry workers.