VANCOUVER—The NDP government’s 2019 budget had little to say on job creation, but dollars earmarked for “revitalizing the forest industry” show it’s gearing up to move on a long-standing commitment.
Between 2004 and 2009, B.C. lost almost half of its direct and indirect forestry jobs, though the trend goes back as far as 1995. Worker representatives blame a shift in production: fewer and fewer trees harvested in B.C. are being processed here, turned into paper, cabinets and musical instruments.
Instead, raw logs are being shipped abroad, primarily to the U.S., China and Hong Kong, where the work can be done for less.
In Port Alberni, where sawmill closures have cost hundreds of jobs, a forestry union leader said he’s seen tankers go by carrying logs that could have been processed in the community as recently as two years ago.