DOUG Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, on Thursday slammed BC Liberal, noting: “The old government knew about the challenges facing the forest sector and it failed to act. Instead of helping forestry communities become more resilient, it buried reports warning of mill closures. Its shameful inaction has led us to where we are today.”
He added: “Looking ahead, I’m confident that B.C.’s forest sector will show its resiliency and innovation to weather our current challenges as it has so many times in the past. I see our forest sector emerging with a new strength, vision and stability.”
In a statement in response to the truck loggers rally that was held on Wednesday at the Parliament Buildings, Donaldson said: “Yesterday, along with Labour Minister Harry Bains, I met with representatives from a group of over more than forestry contractors who came to the Parliament Buildings to have their voices heard.
“These are people who have literally helped to build this province, because they’ve been instrumental in making forestry one of the greatest contributors to B.C.’s economic base.
“Now, like other forestry workers and communities, they are going through tough times, as a strike between Western Forest Products and the United Steelworkers drags on longer than anyone anticipated.
“In addition to the strike, the forest industry has faced a perfect storm of challenges over the past year – from market pressures, low commodity prices and ongoing unjust duties from the United States to impacts from climate change.
“I want to thank the truck loggers for bringing their concerns to Victoria. During our meeting, I told them that our government is heartened by the news that both sides are going back to the bargaining table today in hopes of getting a deal and ending the strike.
“I also told them our government is committed to working with them to support this vital sector.”
Donaldson added: “We listened to what they had to say and shared their concerns about reduced operations on the coast this past year. More than that, we heard their concerns. We know that workers, their families and their communities are struggling. We know that they all want to get back to work and we are hopeful that this week’s mediated bargaining session with Vince Ready will produce results.
“In the meantime, we are making changes to strengthen the B.C. forest sector’s resiliency so that it can come out of this situation stronger, more diversified, more inclusive of Indigenous Nations’ interests and better able to withstand the challenges of the future.
“When it comes to stumpage, coastal rates went down by 24% in October and the rates will be adjusted again in January 2020.”