Louisiana Pacific has announced it is temporarily shutting down its oriented strandboard mill at Fort St. John B.C., while continuing production at its Grande Prairie, Alberta plant. Norbord has announced its 100 Mile House OSB plant is closing indefinitely. (Wikimedia Commons)

Louisiana Pacific has announced it is temporarily shutting down its oriented strandboard mill at Fort St. John B.C., while continuing production at its Grande Prairie, Alberta plant. Norbord has announced its 100 Mile House OSB plant is closing indefinitely. (Wikimedia Commons)

LETTER: British Columbia’s forest industry crisis being made worse

Andrew Wilkinson warns of regulatory overload by John Horgan’s NDP

In the past few weeks we’ve seen shift curtailments, mill slowdowns, and complete shutdowns across the province. The fact that Canfor – one of the companies to announce cutbacks – is only curtailing its operations in B.C., not in Alberta or any U.S. state, should be a red flag for Premier John Horgan.

Couple that with the fact that NDP policies are being imposed on forestry-dependent communities without consultation and that the industry lost 6,600 jobs between 2017 and 2018, and it’s hard to deny that B.C. is in a crisis. As recent weeks have shown, 2019 is shaping up to be even worse.

Horgan needs to immediately start working with the forestry communities that are paying the price for his government’s irresponsible policies. I’ve written him a letter asking for him to take action, starting now.

The NDP needs to engage right away with the federal government to look at supports for impacted workers and their families. My suggestion is to ensure workers and contractors who have lost their jobs or had their hours cut have first access to work on wildfire mitigation projects.

RELATED: B.C. forest companies get first test for new licence rules

RELATED: B.C. layoffs aim to stop falling wood product prices

The NDP needs to make amends and engage with forestry companies and unions to start regaining British Columbia’s competitiveness. This should include an immediate reduction on stumpage fees and the carbon tax on the forestry industry. The Premier also needs to establish an all-party industry competitiveness committee to ensure a healthy sector now and in the future.

Meanwhile, Horgan and the NDP are sitting on their hands as our forest industry bleeds jobs in every corner of the province. They seem intent on ignoring those red flags or even acknowledging that their policies, such as Bill 22, which effectively gives the government a veto over cutting rights transfers between forest companies, are failing an entire sector of our economy.

More than 140 forestry-dependent communities and countless small businesses are feeling the pressure as Horgan has made British Columbia the jurisdiction with the highest production costs on the continent.

In the 1990s, the NDP brought in the Forest Practices Code, which strangled the forestry industry with red tape and made us one of the highest-cost producers of timber in the world. The NDP’s previous mistakes added $1.8 billion per year to the forestry sector’s production costs and now they are at it again.

Bill 22 was only introduced a month ago, after zero industry consultation, and since then we have already witnessed the announcement of imminent closures or indefinite shutdowns of four mills. Tolko’s Quesnel sawmill, Canfor’s Vavenby sawmill, Norbord’s 100 Mile House oriented strandboard mill and Louisiana Pacific’s Peace Valley OSB mill, along with announcements of production curtailments or downtime at more than 30 other Interior mills.

This is absolutely unacceptable to hard-working British Columbians. Countless families rely on the forestry industry to put food on their tables and support their children. The fact that Horgan is making tough times even harder by creating greater industry uncertainty and burdening companies with more red tape and higher taxes is a slap in the face to every one of those families.

We have reached the point where it no longer makes economic sense to do business here. The NDP needs to govern for the entire province, not just their union and insider friends in Victoria and the Lower Mainland.

In 2016, under the B.C. Liberal government, we had nearly 60,000 direct forestry jobs. In just two years under the NDP, that number has dropped to around 50,000, with many more indirect jobs lost as well. The numbers for 2019 are only going to get worse while the NDP continues down this path.

Andrew Wilkinson, MLA, Vancouver-Quilchena, B.C. Liberal Leader

BC legislature

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

Just Posted

Wolf photo by Brian Hay
2020 hunting season review and wildlife update: Part III

This is Part III of a three-part series by F.J. Hurtak, looking at the issues of the 2020 hunting and wildlife management season

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

Kimberley Alpine Resort's main chairlift will be down for at least a few more days, as the required part missed its connecting flight.
Kimberley Alpine Resort’s chairlift repair delayed

Part needed for repair missed connecting flight in Amsterdam

Kimberley has only two exits in the case of an emergency evacuation. Google Earth.
Kimberley Fire Department to work on upgrading evacuation route planning

City supports RDEK in applying for regional grant

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Most Read