An excerpt from Question Period in the B.C. Legislature today (Oct. 10, 2019).
Hon. D. Donaldson: I think we deserve a little context here, for the record. Forestry workers are facing extreme challenges. Forest communities are facing extremely difficult situations in the Interior.
To show the priority, to make the priority apparent, of this opposition, there were 41 questions over three days. This is the first time that we’ve actually got to a forestry-related question. I can’t think of a better demonstration of how unimportant they think forestry is in this province.
Unlike the opposition, instead of making statements, we actually have taken action. We’ve taken action to clean up the mess that they left in the coastal forest sector. We’ve taken action to clean up the mess that they’ve left in the Interior forest sector. We’ve taken action to support workers in communities.
The Leader of the Opposition calls a $69 million support program “virtually nothing.” I would say he should get in touch with the mayor of Mackenzie and the mayor of Fort St. James, who are appreciative of this forest support program. I’ll quote from Mayor Joan Atkinson of Mackenzie.
Mr. Speaker: Members.
Hon. D. Donaldson: “I recognize that the government recognizes communities that are really challenged with these forestry curtailments, and I’m so grateful that my community will receive some of this funding.”
Mr. Speaker: The member for Nechako Lakes on a supplemental.
J. Rustad: So as the minister stands up, he’s laughing and smiling, while forest workers and families are hurting. That is disgraceful. That is disgraceful, Minister. And what’s worse?
Mr. Speaker: Members. Members, the member for Nechako Lakes has the floor, please.
J. Rustad: Taking the money from the rural dividend fund to put into this package…. The mayor of Fort St. James and the mayor of Mackenzie are afraid to say anything because they don’t want to be persecuted by the most vengeful government in history.
We put forward a five-point plan that we wrote to the minister in June. That plan laid out how we can support workers, how we can support the industry and try to get the industry back on its feet. But what does the minister do, and what does this government do? It simply dithers, and workers are paying the price.
It’s painfully clear that there is no plan from this government — no plan to support workers and families and communities.
Minister, quite frankly, will you do the right thing and step down and let somebody step into that seat that can actually help the workers and families in this province?
Hon. D. Donaldson: Well, that’s great. The opposition puts forward a five-point plan in June. Where was your plan from two years ago, from 2015, when you knew that the crisis was going to hit the Interior forest sector with the end of the beetle wood? You did nothing to prepare communities. You did nothing to prepare workers. That was on your watch.
You’ve got four former Forests ministers over there — well, 3.1; the current critic was in for two weeks. You’ve got four former Forests ministers, no plan to help the Interior when you knew that this was going to happen in the Interior with the falldown of the beetle wood.
We’ve taken action. We’ve put a $69 million support program in place for workers and communities. We’re addressing the mismanagement of the forests by the previous government in the Interior and on the coast. We’ve increased marketing efforts and allowed 12-storey buildings to be built out of wood to reinforce our engineered wood sector. We’ve undertaken training for the new harvesting production and management techniques that will be required into the future. That’s because we understand how important rural communities and the forest economy are to the B.C. sector.
Source: BC Hansard