B.C.'s forestry sector employs more than 7,000 people in the Northeast, putting hundreds of millions in family pockets and government coffers, according to a new report released today.
The report by PwC was commissioned by the Council of Forest Industries (COFI), and released April 3, as a kick-off to its annual convention in Vancouver.
Forestry generates jobs and economic activity in every corner of the province, but is particularly important to certain regions, like Northeast B.C., where forestry accounts for 20% of the jobs.
“This new study confirms that not only does the forest industry generate significant jobs and economic activity for the province overall, but these benefits can be found in every corner of the province – from Vancouver Island to the Interior, Lower Mainland to the Kootenays, and North Coast, Okanagan and Northeast regions of the province,” COFI president Susan Yurkovich said.
According to the study, forestry supports 7,702 jobs in the Northeast: 6,422 directly, and another 1,281 indirect and induced jobs related to the sector.
The sector generates $422 million in income for workers in the region, $303 million in government revenues, and $579 million in total GDP.
The PwC study focused on seven regions in the province, some of which specialize in certain types of products. In the Northeast, the region is home to 63% of the province's oriented strand board (OSB) capacity in its two mills, a product that is heavily used across the board in building construction.
Despite the many headwinds that has battered B.C.’s forest sector – pests, fires, duties, shrinking timber supply – it remains an economic “cornerstone,” generating $13 billion in gross domestic province and employing 140,000 British Columbians.
“This level of employment is more than in any other resource sector in B.C.,” COFI said in a news release.
Vancouver Island is the province’s biggest pulp and paper producer and forestry is its largest resource sector. It produces 30% of the pulp and paper produced in B.C.
The Thompson-Oakanagan region, meanwhile, has the most plywood and veneer mills, and the North Coast-Nechako region has the most wood pellet production.
About 9% of the workforce in the forestry sector are First Nations, who have increased their involvement in the industry in recent decades. There are a number of First Nations business and contractors in the forestry, and a number of tree farm licences are held by First Nations.
For government, forestry in B.C. generates $1..4 billion in federal taxes annually, $2.6 billion in provincial taxes, and $198 million in municipal taxes.
“While this study demonstrates once again that the forest industry continues to be an economic engine for our province, we are also an industry that is facing significant challenges, including rising fibre costs, ongoing trade headwinds and strong global competition,” Yurkovich said.
Some of those challenges will be discussed at this week’s conference, which runs from Thursday to Friday.
Keynote speakers at this year’s convention include Premier John Horgan and David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S.
— with Business in Vancouver files