Decade of cuts and deregulation has left hollowed-out ministry: BCGEU
VANCOUVER, Feb. 16, 2012 /CNW/ - An Auditor General's report on forest
management confirms what Forest Ministry workers and B.C. communities
have been saying for years - that B.C.'s public forests have been badly
mismanaged by the B.C. Liberal government over the past decade, and
that massive budget cuts have left the ministry unable to fulfill its
mandate, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union said today.
"The Auditor General talks about the need to improve stewardship,
silviculture, research and oversight," says BCGEU president Darryl
Walker. "It's not surprising that these services need immediate
attention. These areas have been the hardest hit by budget cuts over
the past decade. Over 1,000 staff positions have been cut from the
Forest Service since 2001.
"The B.C. Liberal government has dismantled the ministry's research
department, gutted its inventory program, and slashed compliance and
enforcement staff. Is it any wonder the government no longer has
reliable information about the current state of our forests?"
Since 2001, the B.C. Liberal government cut 60 per cent of forest
research staff, who were then dispersed to different resource
ministries during constant reorganization initiatives. Inventory staff
resources have been cut by more than 60 per cent since 2001, with only
39 staff left to cover the entire province.
Compliance and Enforcement has been particularly hard hit by government
cuts. Where there were 42 district forestry offices in 2001, there are
now only 21. Where up to 70 people worked in these district offices a
decade ago, providing valuable oversight on public forest lands, 10 or
fewer remain on average. In northeastern B.C., forest service staff are
each responsible for an average area of over 232,000 hectares. In stark
contrast, there is one Forest Service staff for every 2,666 hectares in
"The Auditor General clearly shows that the ministry has not defined its
timber goals, is not clear about its own commitments, and has no real
idea how much timber is actually out there to be harvested," says
"The ministry's response, that everything is fine and going according to
plan, suggests a government in deep denial. If this is according to
plan, I'd say it's a very bad plan. We need to do much better."
SOURCE B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union
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contact Chris Bradshaw at 604-291-9611 or 604-369-8411 (cell).