The Liberal government is clearly trying to buy votes with their recent announcement to provide an additional $50-million to the forestry sector to compensate for the tenure take-back. This tenure change was needed to make the stumpage determination more accurate and thus help solve the softwood dispute. However, the take-back so far on the coast has resulted in lower stumpage (by $7), not higher because the increased concentration of companies has allowed them to work together to ensure their auction bids on standing timber are minimized to reduce the stumpage. And the hardships facing forestry workers are not caused by the softwood war, but instead are a result of automation and industry consolidation fuelled by higher profits.
The forest industry has been on the take for years now. Under the previous provincial government, FRBC channelled millions to help the poor laid off forestry workers, supposedly to offset the impact of park creation. And now the Campbell Liberals are spending even more taxpayer dollars to help an industry that is booming despite the tariffs.
The absurdity of this expenditure is more apparent when one considers that the timber, which has been “taken back,” is still available to the same companies at even a lower cost than they paid prior to the take-back. And these companies have even been paid for this timber when it was taken back at 25-cents/cubic metre under the $200-million dollar subsidy program the Liberals allocated for compensation.
The public remains hoodwinked. The public has long been concerned about years of government cutbacks, yet no one seems to mind when the government doles out money to a booming industry and to workers laid off so this boom can continue.
President, Shuswap Environmental Action Society
Jan. 21, 2005
Office of the Premier
PROVINCE PLANS $50-MILLION INCREASE TO FOREST TRUST
VANCOUVER – The Province intends to introduce legislation in February that
will increase the Forestry Revitalization Trust Fund by $50 million to help
workers and contractors pursue new opportunities and participate in building
a more competitive B.C. forest industry, Premier Gordon Campbell announced
today at the annual convention of the Truck Loggers Association.
“Over the last three years we have seen workers and investment returning to
B.C.’s forest sector as we’ve worked with communities and the industry to
implement the Forestry Revitalization Plan,” Campbell said. “There is still
work to do, and we continue working with the industry to ensure forest
workers and contractors can make the most of the opportunities available as
we build a stronger, more sustainable and more competitive forest sector.
“The $75-million Forestry Revitalization Trust Fund we established in 2003
is a critical component of our revitalization plan. The advisors to the
trust – including contractors, labour and industry – have told us an
additional investment is needed to assist workers and contractors through
this transition. Today, we’re responding to their concerns. Together we have
opened the door to a bright future for B.C.’s number 1 industry – and this
investment will help ensure that door stays open.”
The Forestry Revitalization Trust Fund was established in March 2003 to
provide assistance to workers and contractors affected by the 20 per cent
timber reallocation laid out in the Province’s Forestry Revitalization Plan.
Those eligible to receive assistance include:
Contractors who lose replaceable contracts or choose to retire equipment
they used for building forest roads and cutting and hauling logs.
Older workers who need assistance to bridge their pensions to retire early.
Younger workers who need more training to fill vacancies left by retirees.
The additional $50 million in funding will be added as part of supplementary
estimates, if approved, when the legislature is recalled in February.
On Wednesday, the Truck Loggers Association also announced its
intention to introduce a program called Provider Pals into B.C. schools to
help educate students about the importance of the province’s resource
industries and strengthen ties between rural and urban communities. Premier
Campbell invited the association to work with the Ministry of Education to
discuss how the Province can assist in bringing Provider Pals to B.C.
“It’s important that children – and their parents – understand
the role our resource industries play in our lives no matter where you live
in B.C.,” Campbell said. “I applaud the TLA for taking the initiative to
introduce children to B.C.’s forest industry and to encourage young British
Columbians to consider careers in forestry.”
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Office of the Premier