REALITY CHECK: Forestry Job Losses Mount Days After Campbell Said We’d Hit Bottom

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As three more sawmills close in Prince George, Radium, and Vavenby, throwing 570 people out of work, it’s clear that B.C. families are being hit hard by the economic downturn.

But Gordon Campbell continues to deny the severity of the challenges facing B.C. families, saying earlier this week that “we’re starting to find the bottom now” (CHNL, May 26, 2009).

Does he really think that’s the case? Take a look at the facts:

·     Since 2001, over 34,000 jobs have been lost in the forest industry – 25,000 in the last two years alone. 

·     The number of people in B.C. receiving regular Employment Insurance benefits jumped 26.7 per cent to 82,210 in March, the second-highest increase in the country.

·     The number of people receiving temporary income assistance has jumped sharply, increasing by almost 50 per cent in the last year.

·     B.C. lost 74,100 full-time jobs between September and April, with the unemployment rate increasing from 4.6 per cent to 7.4 per cent over that period of time.

·     People in B.C. are running up debt faster than other Canadians, with 56 per cent of British Columbians carrying a bigger debt load than last year.

·     B.C. has the highest level of child poverty in the country, at almost 22 per cent.

Last year, B.C.’s own Forests Minister Pat Bell claimed that “the worst is over, it's unlikely that you're going to see anymore significant mill closures at this point” (CBC, Sep. 23, 2008).

These comments from the premier and the forests minister show just how out of touch the Campbell government is with the daily realities facing thousands of B.C. families.