THE BC Liberals say that with Christmas fast approaching, thousands of British Columbia forestry workers are still waiting for Premier John Horgan and the NDP to tell them whether they have a job.
“The NDP’s injection of chaos into the forest sector is now more than 30 days old, that was how long the minister said families would have to wait to see what tenure might be taken off the market, resulting in serious job losses,” says Nechako Lakes MLA and Opposition Forestry Critic John Rustad on Tuesday. “Well, the deadline has passed and First Nations, forestry workers and companies are no more aware as to what the NDP plan is. This is totally unfair, especially during the holiday season when families won’t know if they will have a job in the new year. It’s time for the NDP to tell workers if they have a job.”
On November 2, the NDP introduced a purported plan for dealing with old-growth forests in the province, which could result in the loss of 18,000 forestry jobs. This comes at a time when workers are dealing with the impact of the NDP’s failure to secure a softwood lumber deal, though the premier promised one four years ago. As well, Catalyst Paper has shut down the Powell River pulp mill indefinitely and northern pulp mills have announced curtailments.
“It’s a so-called plan because the NDP are throwing ideas, providing no details, hoping something sticks and frightening an entire sector,” said Rustad. “First Nations, the United Steelworkers and companies have all united to combat the NDP’s bungling of the file. The NDP said 30 days and they’re up. So what’s the plan now? It seems like the NDP doesn’t know themselves as workers and communities are being left in the lurch.”
Rustad notes that under questioning, the NDP forests minister spends more time explaining how government will bridge workers to retirement than how the NDP will keep a thriving industry. “The premier said no mills would close under his government, but the NDP now seem intent on managing the demise of the industry. We disagree. The industry is going to change, however, by working with all the stakeholders — not setting arbitrary dates and ramming legislation through — forestry will continue to be a major contributor,” said Rustad. “That’s what workers deserve from the NDP this Christmas — security for the future, not a retirement plan.”