A decade of cuts, deregulation, reorganization leaves shell of ministry
VANCOUVER, Feb. 27, 2012 /CNW/ - A planned celebration at the
legislature to mark the centennial of the B.C. Forest Service rings
hollow in light of government cuts that have gutted the ministry, the
B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union said today.
"There is little to celebrate on this centennial, because the government
has largely dismantled the B.C. Forest Service," says BCGEU president
Darryl Walker. "Several recent reports confirm what our members have
been saying for years, that the ministry can no longer fulfill its
Walker pointed to a quote from the 1910 Royal Commission report on
forestry which states: "(Forest) policy that vacillates, not because
fresh knowledge of forests has been obtained but simply because changes
have taken place in politics, can have no value."
"The Auditor General, the Forest Practices Board and the Association of
B.C. Forest Professionals have clearly shown the negative impact of
more than a decade of cuts, deregulation and reorganization," says
Byron Goerz, the chair of the BCGEU Environmental, Technical and
Operational Services component. "But what is the B.C. Liberal
government's response? Another $20 million funding cut, and a status
quo policy that does nothing to address the crisis in B.C. forests."
With more than 70 mills closed and tens of thousands of forest industry
jobs vanished, the government continues to sit on its hands while raw
log exports jumped more than 160 per cent in the past year, noted
While the Auditor General warns of the impact of cuts on forest
inventory and research, the government's response is to cut funding for
inventory even further, to $8.4 million, from an average $15 million.
The Association of B.C. Forest Professionals (ABCFP) estimates that
foresters are making decisions based on inventory data that is at least
20 to 30 years out of date.
More than a thousand forest ministry jobs have been cut, as the
government effectively handed over control of forestry planning and
monitoring to the industry itself. The Forest Practices Board warns
that the government is no longer able to track forest harvesting and
restocking activities, and is "concerned" that industry reports are
incomplete, inaccurate or filed late.
"The B.C. Liberal government has left the fox to guard the henhouse, and
has washed their hands of responsibility to effectively monitor and
enforce forest regulations," says Walker. "This centennial should serve
as a wake-up call, that our government is not fulfilling its duty to
properly manage our public forests."
SOURCE B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union
For further information:
Chris Bradshaw at 604-369-8411