VICTORIA – A sudden increase in demand for B.C. lumber in the United States is drawing attention once again to the B.C. Liberal government's failure to prepare the province for looming skills shortages and the return of the forest industry, say the New Democrats.
“We’ve been asking the government to take action on the skilled labour shortage for nearly a decade,” said New Democrat forestry critic Norm Macdonald. “We've been very vocal in our attempts to warn the government that unless it takes action to stabilize communities, British Columbia is going to lose workers and never get them back.”
The head of the Central Interior Logging Association, MaryAnne Arcand, has said northern B.C. is facing a shortage of 2,000 drivers and equipment operators as demand has ramped up from the U.S. following devastating storms on the east coast. The problem reflects long-standing concerns about skilled labour shortages in the province.
“When we hear numbers referenced like ‘shortage of 2,000,’ real alarm bells go off. What the industry most feared would happen appears to have happened; workers went to Alberta for greater economic opportunity and benefit and never came back,” said Macdonald.
Adrian Dix and B.C.'s New Democrats have made education and skills training a priority because they are key to growing a sustainable economy.