‘The challenges facing interior forest communities are unprecedented’
British Columbia is providing $875,000 to 11 Interior communities to support mill workers and their families who have been affected by permanent or indefinite mill closures or shift reductions.
“The challenges facing Interior forest communities are unprecedented, and that’s why we are getting these resources where they are most urgently needed,” says Doug Donaldson, minister of forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development. “Funds from these community support grants are going directly to the local governments, as they have first-hand knowledge of what supports are most needed in their communities.”
The communities will provide support services and programs for impacted mill workers and their families, including employment workshops and training, counselling services and support for food banks.
“Our government is working hard to make sure the supports are in place for contractors, workers and communities,” says Ravi Kahlon, parliamentary secretary for forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development. “For me, this situation is very personal, having experienced first-hand the challenges families face when a local mill closes or reduces shifts. I understand the struggles many are facing in these communities.”
Through the Community Support Grants Program (CSGP), Interior communities Clinton, Clearwater, Quesnel and Kelowna are each receiving $100,000 after permanent mill closures. Fort St. James, Fort St. John, Mackenzie, 100 Mile House and the Regional District of East Kootenay Area B (Jaffray) are each receiving $75,000 after indefinite mill closures, while the Regional District of Fraser Fort George Area C (Isle Pierre) and Merritt are each receiving $50,000 following permanent shift reductions.
In December, Vancouver lawyer Lisa Helps of Helps Law released the WorkSafeBC and Government Action Review: Crossing the Rubicon report that recommends better supports and safeguards for workers in the sawmill industry.