Burnaby, B.C. 12 April, 2012 - The most recent BC Liberal "forest strategy" offers nearly nothing in the way of specific measures to help a struggling industry recovery, says the United Steelworkers union.
"This program - like so many that have preceded it - is long on words, short on actions," said Bob Matters, chair of the Steelworkers Wood Council.
"Instead of producing more slogans, the government should be offering strategies to deal with skyrocketing raw-log exports, the province's reforestation crisis, the loss of over 35,000 jobs and 70 wood-manufacturing plants in the past 10 years, the immediate needs of the people of Burns Lake whose sawmill exploded earlier this year, and the long-term needs of communities struggling with the mountain pine beetle infestation."
Noting that the strategy was announced in the BC Southern Interior, Matters said that the government should be dealing with the impact of raw-log exports on interior sawmills that are currently producing lumber - not raw logs - for Asian markets.
"Those mills are working today," he said. "But if we ship them raw logs, how long before the Chinese and other offshore manufacturers overcome the competitive disadvantages that allow B.C. mills to out-compete them in their own lumber markets?"
In addition, Matters noted that the latest Liberal strategy includes no measures to reverse the decline in reforestation of lands impacted by the mountain pine beetle. A recent report by B.C.'s auditor-general noted that the government's Forests for Tomorrow program has targeted replanting of over 25,000 hectares a year, but has in fact only planted about 8000 hectares a year.
"They should get on with the job of ensuring that we create more jobs using B.C.'s resources rather than issuing yet another strategy paper that will gather dust," Matters concluded.
For additional information: Bob Matters (604) 683-1117