B.C. forestry minister says 5,000 workers off the job is a ‘terrible situation’

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WatchB.C. forestry minister says 5,000 workers off the job is a

It should be a busy work day but the gate is locked and logging trucks are idle at the Mosiac yard in Nanoose Bay, after a sudden shutdown affecting 2,000 workers.

“It’s a terrible situation,” B.C. forestry minister Doug Donaldson says. “Our thoughts, our feelings, go out to the workers impacted. It’s definitely very tough to get that kind of news.”

Mosaic, which manages both Timberwest and Island Timberlands, is curtailing all harvesting operations — indefinitely — due to poor market conditions.

It’s a devastating blow for the industry, which has another 3,000 workers off the job due to a five-month-long Western Forest Products strike.

“Many many dads have left British Columbia and left their families behind while they go to the Yukon and Alberta and other places to work hoping they can make their mortgage payments, hoping they can send money home to feed their families,” says Liberal rural development critic Donna Barnett.

And it’s not just forestry workers — service providers and thousands of others are also feeling the pinch.

“It’s absolutely devastating to these rural communities and when the government doesn’t step up to the plate,” Barnett says. “It just tells rural British Columbians that they don’t matter.”

Critics are calling on the province to intervene and do more to help forestry workers and communities devastated by these developments.

But the B.C. government says both the strike and curtailment are due to forces beyond its control.

Training services are being offered for those impacted and the forestry minister says the NDP government is taking a long-term approach to keep the industry sustainable.

“We’re advancing engineered wood products, mass timber products, doing that to get more value out of every piece of lumber that comes out of the manufacturing facilities,” Donaldson says.

But it’s little comfort for those out of work before Christmas.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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