Feds urged to help forestry

A handful of western Conservative MPs are calling on the federal Liberals to do something to support the slumping B.C. forest industry.

Four B.C. MPs, including Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola MP Dan Albas, and one Alberta member wrote to the Minister of Natural Resources and Minister Innovation, Science and Economic Development, calling for action as a number of mills across the province curtail operations.

The closures have resulted in several hundred people losing their jobs.

There are hints more closures could be forthcoming.

“It is crystal clear to the forestry workers in B.C. that the Liberals’ Western Economic Diversification program is not working for them, and that Minister Bains appears to have no real understanding of the economic realities that are taking place in the B.C. interior,” said Albas.

“This is what happens when regional economic development agencies that should be focused on the unique challenges of different regions across Canada are aggregated under a single minister from a major urban centre.”

Prince George-Peace River MP Bob Zimmer says, in the short-term, employees and their communities require increased engagement from the federal government, especially boots on the ground from Service Canada and the Department of Western Economic Diversification to guide people in accessing existing programs.

“More action can also be taken in the long-term to support the economic diversification of rural municipalities, like those in the ridings we represent," he said.

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