Reality Check: As Houston and Quesnel reel from job loss announcements, Clark says ‘it’s all good’ in forestry

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VICTORIA – Premier Christy Clark claimed that “it’s all good” in forestry and that the industry is growing the day after two northern communities learned that two major mill closures would result in major job losses.

Houston, with a population of just over 3,300, will lose 225 direct jobs – not counting the spin-off jobs – with the closure of the West Fraser mill next year. In Quesnel, more than 200 jobs will be lost as Canfor permanently closes its mill.

Yet Premier Clark told a Kelowna radio station Friday that “the forest industry is growing. Profits are growing; it’s all good.”

With declining timber stocks, analysts expect more mill closures to follow. Tens of thousands of jobs have already been lost from the industry in the past decade, in part due to timber shortages brought on by the pine beetle outbreak.

QUOTE: New Democrat forest critic Norm Macdonald: “Forest-dependent communities are worried about their future – a future tied to a resource under the direct control of the provincial government – yet we have a premier making claims that are not tied to reality about the industry growing.

“What forest workers deserve is a government that is actually trying to make things better, not gloss things over with empty rhetoric. That’s why we have been pushing for economic transition teams for Quesnel and Houston today, and pushing for a jobs protection commissioner to help other communities prepare before these devastating job losses occur. ”