Dan Davies: Stronger measures needed for B.C.'s forestry industry

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Here in the Northeast, 20% of local jobs are generated by the forest industry.

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That may come as a surprise to some, but if you currently work in forestry in our region, you know all about the challenges facing today’s industry. Across the province, fibre costs are increasing while lumber prices continue to fall. Jobs are being lost because of a lack of supply. Wildfires and beetle epidemics are putting even more pressure on a dwindling resource.

On top of all that, government officials confirmed that planned caribou recovery efforts will directly impact the forest industry, especially in the Peace River region. This leaves many searching for answers, especially at last week’s annual convention of the B.C. Council of Forest Industries. People were hoping that the Horgan government would finally do something to help the industry.

To the disappointment of all, Horgan failed to deliver.

The premier’s only solution is to pull lumber companies together with First Nations, mayors, and unions. The provincial government would then step out of the way and let the industry work things out with local stakeholders.

Exiting the field is not what I call leadership.

Instead, the Horgan government proposes to use its buying power to utilize more lumber in government-funded construction projects. A novel idea that sounds great on the surface, but in reality we are only talking about a few projects at most. This will hardly be enough to support one of the most important export industries in the province.

The fact is, the Horgan government has been losing five forestry jobs a day ever since it took office in 2017. This doesn’t include 10 to 15 indirect jobs that depend on forestry.

Quite frankly, I think our province deserves better.

Dan Davies is the MLA for Peace River North.

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