BRITISH Columbia’s forestry industry is in a free fall crisis and there has been no response from Premier John Horgan and the NDP to save jobs amid shift curtailments and complete shutdowns of mill operations across the province, the B.C. Liberals said on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Norbord announced an indefinite curtailment of its oriented strand board (OSB) mill in 100 Mile House, which will impact almost 160 employees. This latest news was preceded on Monday when Canfor announced it was curtailing operations at all but one of its sawmills in B.C.
“John Horgan and the NDP need to take meaningful action to stem the flow of job loss in this province,” said Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Critic and Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad. “There are possible solutions that government could employ to increase lumber supply to OSB operations like Norbord and make B.C. more competitive by bringing down the highest production costs in North America.”
So far in 2019, there have been at least 83 weeks of operational downtime announced at various mill operations in B.C. In addition, there have been two permanent closures, significant shift reductions and hundreds of millions of board feet curtailed.
“The impact on a small forest-dependent town like 100 Mile House is absolutely devastating to all the families in my community,” said Rural Caucus Chair and Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett. “My fellow MLAs and I have used every opportunity to raise the urgency of the situation at Norbord and they did nothing. If John Horgan and the NDP really care what’s happening in rural B.C. there would at least be some kind of plan in place to help people.”