A Call to Action to Save BC’s Forest Sector

By Gavin McGarrigle (Unifor), Scott Lunny (Steelworkers) and Kelly Johnson (PPWC)
The Tyee
March 11, 2024
Category: Special Feature
Region: Canada, Canada West

BC’s forests, an emblem of both natural beauty and economic vitality, have supported communities and families for generations. This economic powerhouse did not develop by accident — good forestry jobs today are the result of many decades of union organizing, strike action and labour struggles. The success of the B.C. forestry sector in the past also hinged on legislative and political leadership from government restricting raw log exports, requiring manufacturing and ensuring B.C. forests benefit B.C. workers and communities. In recent years, this sector has faced a “perfect storm” of challenges, leading to a significant decline in employment and economic contribution. As we navigate these turbulent waters, it is imperative that both the federal and provincial governments take decisive action to protect good forestry jobs and ensure a sustainable future for this critical industry.

The decline in B.C.’s forestry sector is not just a statistic; it is a crisis that affects real people and communities. …The solution to this crisis requires a multi-faceted approach, focusing on the protection and creation of unionized jobs, sustainable forest management, increased autonomy for Indigenous communities and innovation in value-added products. …Public funding needs to generate value for communities, not private shareholders. Funding for existing industries and new startups should flow with strict conditions for job creation, union coverage and apprentice ratios, and include strict targets for equitable participation under community benefit agreements. …On Tuesday, forestry workers from the three unions representing unionized forestry workers in BC will gather in Victoria to discuss the challenges the industry is facing and work together to develop a strategic plan for the future of their sector. …The time for action is now; the future of B.C.’s forestry sector, and the communities it supports, cannot wait.

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