Dan Davies: B.C. must act to help forest industry, communities weather the storm

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It’s difficult to read personal messages from people impacted by last Thursday's announcement that operations at the Peace Valley OSB Mill will be shut down, leaving 190 out-of-work for the foreseeable future.

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Later that day, Canfor announced a five-week shut-down at its Taylor pulp mill, adding to the growing list of job losses in our region and across B.C. So far in 2019, there has been a total 88 weeks of operational downtime announced, including five plants closed permanently or shutdown indefinitely. The pain didn’t stop this week as West Fraser announced the closure of its sawmill in Chasm on Monday with additional shift cuts at 100 Mile House. Only last week, Norbord announced it was shuttering that small town’s OSB mill indefinitely too.

Premier Horgan insists these shutdowns have been expected. If so, why hasn’t government done anything to help stem the flow of job loss across B.C.?

The province has to do something – anything – to help the industry get through the storm. The forest industry says it is a combination of low fibre supply coupled with the highest production costs in North America that is costing us so dearly in B.C.

But there are things government can and should do immediately, and BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson sent an urgent list to Horgan last week. This includes immediate relief from the carbon tax, as well as the reduction of stumpage fees. Those already out of work could be hired in their local communities for wildfire mitigation projects.

Unfortunately, John Horgan and the NDP continue to sit on their hands and do nothing while the forest industry goes into a free fall.

It's time to act premier, or move aside and let someone else show some leadership.

Dan Davies is the MLA for Peace River North.

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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