NEW information shows that Andrew Wilkinson and the BC Liberals were warned in 2015 of major challenges ahead for the forest industry but refused to take action, the NDP said on Wednesday.
A 2015 report submitted to the former BC Liberal government “pinpointed the looming problems and accurately predicted the terrible result,” according to journalist Keith Baldrey.
Despite these warnings, Wilkinson and his cabinet colleagues refused to take action to address the growing problems in the industry, leading to the closure of “at least seven and possibly 13 sawmills in the province’s interior.” (Burnaby NOW, 2019-07-30)
“BC’s forestry workers have lived with threats hanging over their jobs for a long time now. That’s a stressful way to live for thousands of families,” said Ravi Kahlon, Parliamentary Secretary for Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development. “If the BC Liberals had taken action four years ago, forestry communities would be much further ahead today. We’re tackling these challenges so workers can support their families now and in the future.”
The NDP said their government has already acted to create good, family-supporting jobs for workers in the forestry industry. The Coast Forest Sector Revitalization plan will increase the processing of BC logs and wood fibre. Changes to BC’s building codes will allow the safe construction of taller wood buildings, promoting the use of value-added wood products in projects across BC. These changes are in addition to a $7.9 million investment to promote BC wood products here and abroad.
The NDP said these are the first steps towards a new vision for the forestry sector that creates good-paying jobs for its workers and supports communities for generations to come.