BC Business organizations expressing concern over forestry economy; recent announcement of deferrals
Port McNeill, B.C. November 5th, 2021 - This week the Province of British Columbia announced deferrals in the Forest Sector. Since that announcement and at the request of members, the Port McNeill Chamber of Commerce has been evaluating the communications from the Province and other organizations to attempt to understand how this announcement and plan might effect our members and North Island communities in the short, medium and long term.
The Port McNeill & District Chamber of Commerce believes in responsible environmental stewardship and a healthy economy. We also believe in the rights and title of Indigenous Nations. As an advocacy organization with members in all sectors, we feel before weighing in on policy it's important to allow all sides to express their perspectives, facts, and opinions on solutions.
As an organization that represents the businesses who are creating the employment and tax base that fundamentally underpins prosperity within our society, we also believe that the entrepreneurial minds that operate BC businesses and support every aspect of our economy and prosperity are innovative and responsive. These people offer some of the best ideas and paths forward for communities.
Business, the United Steelworkers Union, Indigenous Governments and communities are expressing concern over the lack of consultation with their organizations, combined with the speed of change and impact. Some of the consequences that are currently being identified by these organizations and communicated to us are:
Direct financial consequences will be experienced by forestry companies and forestry-dependant communities a result of this policy change, with little-to-no time to pivot business models or divest capital
Job losses are being anticipated by employers and unions
Direct impacts for the small- and medium-sized businesses that provide the industry with goods and services across the supply chain, and the support service businesses in rural communities, such as restaurants, clothing stores, and retailers.
The indirect consequences of job losses include social, cultural and mental health considerations in our already overburdened medical and social systems. Family stress and lateral violence and stress are possible impacts with serious consequences that are documented in wide spread job-loss events.
The cost of living, affordability, and lack of housing stock in the province put rural families in a situation where there are limited options for relocation.
We will work together on this file in an attempt to support our businesses, community and the livability of our home and environment, and support our Government in making informed plans and decisions that represent us. We encourage our members and the greater business community to engage with us on issues that impact our businesses and community, and we will get back to you on the developments in relation to this particular announcement and the impacts it will have throughout Northern Vancouver Island and the Kwakwaka’wakw territories .
Thank you, Gilakas'la,
President, Port McNeill Chamber
Further reading from the BC Chamber:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOVEMBER 4, 2021
In response to the BC Government’s announcement Tuesday, November 2, 2021 that it intends to implement further forest harvesting deferrals in the province, Fiona Famulak, President and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce, has released the following statement :
“British Columbia’s forest industry is an important economic generator in communities – both rural and urban. These deferrals will have far-reaching consequences. Not only will forestry companies be impacted, so too will the small- and medium-sized businesses that supply the industry with goods and services, and the communities in which they operate. These businesses are located in every single region of the province, from the lower mainland, to the Island, in the north, and the interior. What is especially concerning for the BC Chamber network is this decision is coming at a time when many businesses are still struggling to overcome the challenges of the pandemic.
According to a statement released by the BC Council of Forest Industries (COFI), these deferrals could result in the shutdown of 14 to 20 sawmills, two pulp mills and an undetermined number of value-added manufacturing facilities. COFI estimates that this represents the loss of approximately 18,000 family-supporting jobs, including in Indigenous communities, along with more than $400 million in lost revenues to the provincial government per year that help pay for healthcare, education and other services British Columbians rely on each day.
The BC Chamber of Commerce and its members urge the government to work with First Nations, industry, labour and communities on meaningful consultation before further deferrals are implemented.”