NEWS RELEASE · 3rd March 2010
The B.C. Liberals’ decision to cut nearly $200 million from the Ministry of Forests and Range is the latest broken election promise from a government that has abandoned the industry that built this province, say the New Democrats.
Tuesday’s provincial budget hammered the forest ministry, cutting funding by 23 per cent from what the B.C. Liberals promised in last year’s pre-election budget.
“Instead of making strategic investments to build for a future forest industry, the B.C. Liberals are slashing funding to the ministry at a critical time,” said New Democrat forest critic Norm Macdonald.”
“Tens of thousands of jobs have been lost in the industry under the B.C. Liberals’ watch, and their response is further cuts. It’s a backward approach, and it’s hypocritical given the rhetoric of the budget speech.”
Macdonald says the lack of resources for forest health is most troubling.
“The mountain pine beetle and other pests have ravaged the land base, and the problem has been exacerbated by fires, disease and climate change, yet there is no relief in sight from the B.C. Liberals.
“The B.C. Liberals’ inaction over the past nine years has devastated the industry,” said Macdonald. “Their refusal to adequately look after forest health threatens forestry in the years to come.”
Silviculture contractors have estimated that there will be 170 million fewer seedlings planted, as well as less work done to maintain the current forest stock.
“Healthy forests are the key to a sustainable forest industry,” said Macdonald. “The people of British Columbia own the forests, but the B.C. Liberals refuse to make the necessary investments for the future.
“It’s short-sighted and offers no hope for the long-term future of forestry in this province.”
New Democrat Leader Carole James has put forward a five-point plan to renew and modernize the forest industry. The plan includes: developing a green forest plan, developing an innovative and diverse industry, community and worker stabilization funding, and a permanent commission on forestry and tenure reform.