New employment opportunities support rural B.C. forestry workers
November 7, 2022 By Government of B.C.
More employment opportunities are underway for contractors and forestry workers throughout rural B.C. under the province’s Forest Employment Program (FEP).
“We know that changes and downturns can be hard on communities that rely on the forestry sector, and our government is there for them,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “That’s why we’re funding important local projects in collaboration with rural communities and First Nations to help forestry workers seeking new opportunities in their local community.”
From January until March 2022, the Government of B.C. provided $2 million for 41 FEP projects that are now complete or nearing completion. Projects included grading, brushing and improving forest service roads, including improving accessibility; environmental damage repairs; improving and building recreation sites and trails; and capacity-building projects.
The province has invested $30 million since the FEP was created in 2019, supporting more than 315 projects that have created more than 840 employment opportunities for British Columbians in rural communities and First Nations.
The program is completing a new round of projects to be funded through the province’s $185-million support package to help British Columbians affected by old growth deferrals, of which, up to $27.5 million is allocated to the FEP over three years.
“As someone who has worked in the forest sector, I know personally how important forestry is for rural communities throughout the province,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests. “The Forest Employment Program is keeping forestry workers in the industry and creating jobs, while also benefiting communities and their local economies.”
The FEP provides employment opportunities for forestry contractors and workers affected by mill curtailments, old-growth deferrals and other impacts to the sector. For example, contractor Alma Vant Schip has benefited from two rounds of FEP funding.
“As a north Island contractor and resident, I have appreciated the projects and jobs that I have worked on. In particular, Port Alice, where I live, has been affected by a mill closure and a downturn in the forest industry,” said Vant Schip. “The Forest Employment Program projects have given jobs and opened up roads for locals and tourists to access the west coast.”
To further support people in the sector, government recently announced the Forestry Worker Supports and Community Resiliency Council. The council will advise the province about improvements to existing programs and the development of new, forward-looking initiatives to support forestry workers and the economic resiliency of rural communities.
Building resilient communities is a key action of the StrongerBC Economic Plan, helping move British Columbia forward by tackling the challenges of today while growing an economy that works for everyone.
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