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OP/ED: Minister’s statement on Save the Working Forest rally

Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, has released the following statement in response to the B.C. Forestry Alliance Save the Working Forest rally on Feb. 18, 2020, at the Parliament Buildings:

“I spoke with members of the B.C. Forestry Alliance today because I wanted to hear about their concerns. I told them that our government will support the thousands of people who rely on the forest sector for their jobs and livelihoods.

“We will continue to work with the sector to address challenges and ensure a bright and sustainable future. This includes our hard work on our Coast Forest Sector Revitalization plan to make sure more logs are processed in our province and reducing wood waste by redirecting it to our pulp and paper mills.

“On the Coast, we’ve committed $5 million in bridging loans to help contractors impacted by the labour dispute make payments for their logging equipment. This is after we provided $69 million to assist workers impacted by the downturn in the Interior.

“We know there is a greater need, which is why we have been pressing the federal government to bring resources to the table, as they did during the 2008 downturn. I spoke with Seamus O’Regan, federal Minister of Natural Resources, last week and let him know that British Columbians believe that worker support is a shared responsibility.

“The B.C. Forestry Alliance and others have made it clear to us that they are concerned about how old-growth forests are managed. That’s why we commissioned an independent, two-person panel to hear people’s perspectives on the economic, ecological and cultural importance of old-growth trees and forests. We expect to hear back from the panel later this spring.

“Our government is dedicated to putting people first when it comes to how we manage our forests. That’s why we’ve made changes to ensure proper oversight to tenure agreement transfers. This is good for workers, communities and companies, large and small.

“I appreciate the input I received today from members of the B.C. Forestry Alliance, and I can assure them that our government is more than willing to work with them to build a better future for B.C.’s forestry sector.”