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New council to help build more resilient forestry communities

Press Release

Oct. 17, 2022

VICTORIA – The Province has convened a new advisory council in support of forestry workers and communities.

“As someone who has worked in forestry and lives in a forestry community, I know personally how vital the sector is for our province,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests. “It is a foundation of the B.C. economy, providing good, well-paying jobs for over 55,000 people. As the major employer in many communities, it is the lifeblood of rural economies. Our vision is to build stronger, more resilient forestry communities and create new economic opportunities through innovative, value-added manufacturing. The council will help ensure we get this right.”

The Forestry Worker Supports and Community Resiliency Council will advise the Province on improvements to existing programs and the development of new, forward-looking initiatives aimed at supporting forestry workers and the economic resiliency of rural communities. The council will assist government in ensuring programs are targeted, effective and responsive to community needs and priorities.

Chaired by Doug Routley, Parliamentary Secretary for Forests, the council includes 18 members from broad sectors of B.C., including local government, Indigenous communities, forest industry and labour representatives, academics, and non-governmental organizations.

“I am thrilled to be leading a diverse group of council members from across the province that bring a range of skills, expertise and backgrounds to the table,” Routley said. “We need to move past the boom-and-bust cycles of the past that left workers and communities behind. Now is the time for us to work together to build a more sustainable, diverse and innovative forest sector.”

The B.C. forest sector is facing a declining mid-term supply of timber. Set by the independent chief forester, reductions in the annual allowable cut are primarily the result of the end of the beetle kill harvest and the impact of wildfires on the land base. Government’s vision includes shifting the sector from a focus on high volume to high-value production, with more innovative wood products manufactured locally and more jobs created for every tree harvested.

“People in rural communities have built the B.C. we know and love today in large part through their work in our forests,” said Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural and Regional Development. “As global economies and demands change, we know that we need to be better prepared across the province to navigate this shift. As a government, we’re working with rural communities to develop pathways to truly resilient economies, mitigating the impacts of sector downturns and helping people thrive in the communities they call home. This council will help ensure that we’re doing the best job we can of supporting rural communities through that transition.”

The Old Growth Strategic Review also recommended that the Province support forestry workers and communities as they adapt to changes resulting from the shift to new approach for managing B.C.’s old-growth forests. Budget 2022 included $185 million over three years to provide co-ordinated and comprehensive supports for forestry workers, industry, communities and First Nations who may be affected by new restrictions on old growth logging. This funding is helping expand and enhance existing programs:

  • Forest Employment Program – creating short-term employment for forestry contractors and their employees
  • Skills Training for Job Pathways – connecting workers and communities with skills training and educational opportunities
  • Rural Business and Community Recovery Initiative – funding to hire advisers to support rural businesses and communities with strategic decision-making
  • Community Transition Rapid Response Team – delivering on-the-ground economic development and community support services
  • Bridging to Retirement – providing as much as $75,000 to eligible forestry workers and contractors 55 or older to transition to retirement, helping to open up jobs for younger workers

New programs are also being developed focused on long-term economic development opportunities, including:

  • Industry Innovation Program
  • Rural Economic Diversification and Infrastructure Program

Learn More:

To learn more about the Forestry Worker Supports and Community Resiliency Council and its members, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content?id=2CE7CC63CF6444B98991D5D3984ACE27[EAG1]

Learn more about Forestry Workers and Community Supports: https://forestryworkersupport.gov.bc.ca/

Learn about B.C.’s vision for forestry: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/forestry/our-forests-our-future

A backgrounder follows.

Contact:

Ministry of Forests
Media Relations
250 896-4320

BACKGROUNDER

Forestry Worker Supports and Community Resiliency Council bios

The Forestry Worker Supports and Community Resiliency Council will be chaired by Doug Routley, who was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Forests in March 2022 and has served as MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan and previously Cowichan-Ladysmith since 2005. Routley has worked in the sector as a sawmill worker and tree planter. He has also been a business owner and operator, school custodian and school trustee.

Other council members are:

Sarah-Patricia Breen, Nelson:
Breen is the regional innovation chair in Rural Economic Development at Selkirk College and adjunct professor in the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan.

Todd Chamberlain, West Kelowna:
Chamberlain is the general manager of the Interior Logging Association.

Jolleen Dick (suuwayaqawilth), Port Alberni:
Dick is a Hupacasath woman. Her Nuu-chah-nulth name is suuwayaqawilth. She is the tourism development manager for Tourism Vancouver Island, a self-employed jewelry artist, and an elected councillor at Hupacasath First Nation.

Lori Forgeron, Prince George:
Forgeron is owner, president, and chief executive officer of Workforce Development Consulting Services of northern B.C.

Brian Fry, Rossland:
Fry is a strategic shareholder and technology evangelist with Iris Energy. Over the past 25 years, he has co-founded multiple organizations, including Columbia Lake Technology Centre, Granite Mountain Ventures, and i4C Innovation.

Dolores Funk, Burns Lake:
Funk is the former mayor of the Village of Burns Lake and owner/operator (economic development consultant) of Locale North Co.

Kelly Johnson, Castlegar:
Johnson has been with Mercer Pulp Mill for more than three decades and works in operating. He is the president of the Confederation of Canadian Unions and the president of the public and Private Workers of Canada.

Titi Kunkel, Smithers:
Kunkel is the acting vice-president of Academic, Students and International at Coast Mountain College (CMC).

Sunny LeBourdais, Kamloops:
LeBourdais is elected council at Whispering Pines/Clinton Band and director of Transformation at Qwelminte Secwepemc.

Scott Lunny, Richmond:
Lunny is director of United Steelworkers District 3.

Dan Macmaster, Grand Forks:
Macmaster is a fibre manager for Vaagen Fibre Canada, executive director of the Interior Lumber Manufacturing Association, vice-president of the BC Community Forest Association, director at First Nations Forestry Council, and Forestry Support for ONA Forest Working Group.

Gavin McGarrigle, Surrey:
McGarrigle is the western regional director at Unifor.

Brian Menzies, Penticton:
Menzies is the executive director at Independent Wood Processors Association.

Sharie Minions, Port Alberni:
Minions is mayor of Port Alberni, executive director at the 460 Mortgage Investment Corporation, owner of the Brie & Barrel Bistro and mortgage broker at The Mortgage Group Canada Inc.

Cindy Oliver, Burnaby:
Oliver spent 13 years as president of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC. The role involved leading the organization in the provincial bargaining process and conducting public advocacy on issues related to post-secondary education.

Bob Simpson, Quesnel:
Simpson is the former mayor of Quesnel.

Jim Stanford, Vancouver:
Stanford is an economist and director at Centre for Future Work and honorary professor at McMaster University and the University of Sydney.

Corinne Stavness, Comox:
Stavness is the vice-president of corporate affairs for Western Forest Products.

The council’s term is one year, with a possible one-year extension.

Contact:

Ministry of Forests
Media Relations
250 896-4320

Connect with the Province of B.C. at: news.gov.bc.ca/connect

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