Updated: Nov 19, 2021
According to the BC Council of Forest Industries the BC NDP Government's "Harvest Deferral Process" threatens 18,000 jobs and may force the shutdown of 14 to 20 Sawmills in British Columbia.
In a press release, Susan Yurkovich, the President, and CEO of the BC Council of Forest Industries said:
“Today, the Province has indicated it will be proceeding with a process to defer a further 2.6 million hectares of forests in BC. If fully implemented, this move will have a profound and devastating impact on people, families, and communities across the province.”
The CEO of the BC Council of Forest Industries is responding to Premier Horgan's announcement this week where he committed the Province "to work in partnership with First Nations to defer harvest of ancient, rare and priority large stands of old growth within 2.6 million hectares of B.C.’s most at-risk old-growth forests."
The Province is requesting that First Nations indicate within the next 30 days whether or not they support the deferrals.
To support the deferral process, the government will immediately cease advertising and selling BC Timber Sales in the affected areas.
Yurkovich: "our initial analysis indicates that these deferrals would result in the closure of between 14 and 20 sawmills in BC, along with two pulp mills and an undetermined number of value-added manufacturing facilities. This represents approximately 18,000 good, family-supporting jobs lost, along with over $400 million in lost revenues to government each year"
Yurkovich questions the move stating the Government is following recommendations made by a panel of five advisors, 4 of which she says have ties to environmental groups like the Sierra Club and West Coast Environmental Law. Their recommendations are in a report titled the "Old Growth Strategic Review".
The BC Council of Forest Industries hopes the Government will commit to "a more fact based, balanced and inclusive approach, including meaningful engagement with Indigenous Nations, forest professionals and other local experts, before proceeding with decisions that could irreparably harm workers, companies and communities across our province.”
According to Minister of Forests, Katrine Conroy, when the deferral period ends, the "newly identified at risk forests" will either be added to B.C.’s 3.5 million hectares of old-growth forests already off limits to harvesting or included within a new forest management plan.
The Government is promising to retrain out of work forest workers.
A recent independent study of forest inventory commissioned by the BC Council of Forest Industries found BC has about 11.4 million hectares of old forests and over 75 percent is already protected or outside the timber harvesting land base.
Another report commissioned by the Canadian Forest Industries found the provincial forest sector supported more than 100,000 jobs, generated over $13 billion in GDP and nearly $8.5 billion in wages, salaries, and benefits, contributing over $4 billion in government revenues.