Charting the next 75 years of Ontario forestry
By Jamie Lim
March 29, 2018 - On August 24, 1943, the Globe and Mail announced, “the formation of the Ontario Forest Industries Association by a widely representative group of lumber, pulp and paper and associated industries, with the objective of securing better utilization of the great forest resources of Ontario.”
By Jamie Lim
The article went on to report: “The anticipated demand on the forests of Ontario for an unprecedented variety of products now being developed can be met only by the co-operative intelligence of all industries dependent on the forests. And the basic objectives of the new association will be the protection and development of these industries by close co-operation with the government, and by active, measures to maintain and conserve the forests of Ontario.”
That was 75 years ago. As a foundational economic pillar of our nation and our province, 75 years has not changed our sector’s objective to responsibly use a renewable resource to create good paying jobs, support families and communities and grow our province’s economy. We harvest so little — less than half a per cent of our forests — but the benefits are so great with 57,000 people directly employed. And we can do more!
If we want to grow our middle class — grow good paying jobs in regions of our great province that face huge obstacles when it comes to economic development — we are the solution. We must responsibly expand the use of our provinces’ renewable resource.
Three 2017 events reflected our sector’s core values — OFIA’s core values: accountability, inclusivity, perseverance, and integrity.
First was the Greater Toronto Area Habitat for Humanity project. We believe in giving back and supporting the communities that support us. The team at OFIA feels so privileged to work for and with a sector that walks the talk. Celebrating Canada’s 150th Anniversary by building 15 homes with Ontario wood was simply inspiring.
The second was OFIA’s Forestry Advocacy Day at Queen’s Park. Like our forefathers before us, we are determined to ensure Ontario’s provincial policy supports forestry not just for today, but also for generations to come. Meeting with all three parties last October provided such a learning experience for everyone involved. At this event, we planted the seed that we can do more in Ontario. Geographically, Ontario is three-times bigger than Finland and in 2013, Ontario harvested 80 per cent less than Finland. That’s lost opportunity for our communities and our province. We encouraged all three parties to work with our sector to grow the realistic and responsible use of a renewable resource and to embrace and accept forestry for what it truly is — a remarkable renewable natural resource.
And the third event was the QP Media Day with members of the Alliance in late November. We held this event because if something is not true — we all strongly believe you need to correct it. And that’s exactly what we did. Working side by side with stakeholders and rights holders, the folks that have skin in the game, we clarified misinformation and offered constructive recommendations and solutions. In all my days of working with Queen’s Park as a mayor and with OFIA, I don’t think I have ever experienced such a powerful day with such a committed and determined group of stakeholders and rights holders. From my members, from the team at OFIA — thank you.
By working together in 2017, by being persistent, we managed to have our government pause on posting provincial policy prematurely and to acknowledge that before moving forward on Endangered Species Act policy, government needs a better understanding of:
- the impact of climate change on habitat;
- the cumulative effects of all activity on a broad dynamic landscape, and
- a much better appreciation for the socio-economic implications.
We are very grateful to the Ministry of Natural for this acknowledgment and for posting the current proposal of a two-year extension to the Section 55 Rules in Regulation as well as the establishment of an independent panel.
In these uncertain times, I am certain that the future is forestry.
Jamie Lim is the president and CEO of the Ontario Forest Industries Association.