Friday June 3, 2022 | VICTORIA, BC
by Molly Pearce | Island Social Trends
The Ministry of Forests says BC forestry communities and workers are benefitting from the province’s Forest Employment Program.
Over the past year, there’s been an investment of $1.87 million to fund 22 different forestry projects in interior BC. Forestry workers in Thompson Okanagan benefit from the economic opportunities provided by the program.
Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery, and Innovation, said in a May 13, 2022 news release that these projects will help combat the disastrous effects of climate change felt in BC by reducing the risks of wildfires and creating more resilient communities.
These are key goals of the Ministry’s StrongerBC economic plan. The Minister adds that the forestry projects will also help foster tourism and recreation opportunities in the area.
Jobs in various locations:
The Forest Employment Program started in 2019 with the aim to create jobs for interior forestry workers on a short-term basis. Since then, the program has provided $30 million to fund 317 projects.
Some of the Forest Employment Program projects in 2021-2022 include improved access in the event of flooding or wildfire near the Shackan First Nation, Kettle Valley Rail bridge upgrade, and Bone Creek Forest Service Road engineered bank stabilization.
FEP is an internally administered program by the Rural Policy and Programs (RPP) Branch.
These projects focus on reducing wildfire risk, conserving and enhancing forests, providing training opportunities in forestry for Indigenous communities, and ensuring safe access to roads and trails. The program was expanded in 2020 as part of BC’s goals for economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.
840 jobs since 2019:
The overall impacts of the program are wide-reaching. Hundreds of families are supported by the short-term employment opportunities the program provides, as 840 jobs have been created since 2019.
The new opportunities help to fill in the gap created by new logging restrictions in place to protect old-growth forests.
The 2022 budget for the program will provide another $185 million for provision over the next three years. The funding will go towards the creation of further short-term jobs, as well as economic diversification for rural areas, infrastructure projects, retirement planning for older workers, further education and training schemes, and more support services for rural communities in interior BC.
BC launches forest bioeconomy collaboration with Finland (June 3, 2022)
BC launches new Ministry of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship (February 25, 2022)