B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks to Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, Vancouver, Sept. 26, 2019. (UBCM)

B.C. Liberal leader says forest workers ‘expendable’ under NDP

Log costs out of line, Andrew Wilkinson tells municipal leaders

Local politicians gave B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson their loudest applause for his call to do more for the province’s struggling forest industry.

Speaking to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention Thursday, Wilkinson described the plight of logging truck drivers who drove from all over the B.C. Interior to circle the Vancouver convention centre demanding action from the provincial government. Their horn-blasting protest lasted for hours Wednesday, resulting in a brief meeting with Forests Minister Doug Donaldson.

“Those people in those trucks are almost all contractors who owe something between $100,000 and $1 million to the bank, and they have no work,” Wilkinson said. “And many of them have told us they’ve had no work since May.”

Communities that have lost sawmill employment, such as Vavenby and Vanderhoof, have effectively been told “you’re expendable,” Wilkinson said, adding that Donaldson recently said in a radio interview that people who are losing their jobs at Hammond Cedar in Maple Ridge can get a job on the Pattullo Bridge replacement project.

RELATED: B.C. offers early retirement, training fund for forest workers

RELATED: U.S. can’t show harm from Canadian industry: NAFTA panel

Wilkinson said B.C.’s stumpage charges on Crown land logs are up to 10 times higher than in Alberta, contributing to the highest log costs in North America, and the forest industry is shifting there as a result. Protesting truckers also called for reduced stumpage, which Donaldson has warned is a provocation to the U.S. industry that has already imposed import duties of around 20 per cent on B.C. lumber.

Asked about that risk, Wilkinson told Black Press that government is about “best practices,” and Alberta has out-competed B.C. with similar conditions.

“They’re dealing with the same government in the U.S.A.,” he said.

Wilkinson said the pain of rural communities was increased by $25 million that was “stolen” from the province’s Rural Dividend fund to include in a $69 million retraining and retirement package for four Interior communities that have mills closing.

That money and much more has been diverted into the NDP government’s union-only public construction program, which has raised the cost of a short stretch of highway widening near Revelstoke by millions, Wilkinson said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City of Kimberley issues Boil Water Notice

The City of Kimberley issued a Boil Water Notice for all users… Continue reading

Impaired driver apprehended on Hwy 95A at 3:30 a.m. Saturday

Kimberley RCMP continued to remove impaired drivers from the roads. The latest… Continue reading

Hometown heroes: Search and Rescue president Peter Reid

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kimberley Search and Rescue (SAR)… Continue reading

Rivers, creeks flooding across the East Kootenay due to rainstorm

Residents evacuated in Fairmont, other properties on alert due to debris flow concerns

Kimberley schools are open with social distancing in place

Some, but not all, Kimberley students return to school this week, as… Continue reading

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

189 homes in Grand Forks area given evacuation orders

Homes are in the Nursery, Grand Forks Airport, Gilpin Rd., Johnson Flats and Granby Rd. areas

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

B.C. Hockey League prepping for 2020-21

League reviewing different scenarios and start times in compliance with provincial regulations

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Investigators probe death of CN employee at Surrey rail yard

Transportation Safety Board is investigating an ‘occurrence that took place during switching operations’

Trans Mountain starts B.C. leg of pipeline twinning project

Mostly finished in Alberta, Burnaby terminal expanding

Most Read