In what’s being described as the worst crisis in forestry in more than 40 years, I'm at a loss to explain why the provincial government is doing nothing to support the industry and help people who have lost their jobs.
This is astounding because the NDP always likes to claim it’s sticking up for workers, yet they are currently missing in action. In fact, Forests Minister Doug Donaldson, who is from a forest community, is completely absent. I'm impressed with high level of co-operation between business and local government to work through this crisis together in our part of the world, but without provincial support we are bound to see more job loss.
Last week, 21 mayors from across the province decided to go it alone and appeal directly to the federal government for help. It would have been much better if the provincial government was there leading the charge to Ottawa, but it seems our premier doesn’t consider forestry a major priority. Premier John Horgan should be front and centre in what is shaping up to be a deepening crisis.
Earlier this month, the United Way wrote Horgan directly with an urgent appeal for $3 million to help manage communities like ours. The United Way is poised and ready work with local agencies and use its expertise to work in places where mills have been shut down. Part of the problem is that local United Way agencies rely heavily on workplace fundraising campaigns to function, and all of those dollars are drying up because the mill is often the largest employer in small towns.
For our part, I, along with my fellow MLAs who represent most of rural and northern B.C., have been travelling across the province to visit communities that depend on forestry. We are promoting a five-point plan that was presented to Horgan in June that would provide immediate short term and long term solutions.
The time to act is now Premier Horgan, before it’s too late.
Dan Davies is the BC Liberal MLA for Peace River North.