B.C. Liberal forest critic John Rustad (Hansard TV)

B.C. Liberals call for tax relief for struggling forest industry

Donaldson rejects ‘messing with stumpage system’ that inflames U.S.

Opposition politicians are calling on B.C. Premier John Horgan to reduce the tax load on forest companies as they deal with log shortages, slumping lumber prices and continued import duties from the United States.

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson and forests critic John Rustad released a letter to Horgan on Thursday, calling for reduction of carbon tax charged to forest companies, and stumpage fees collected by the province for harvesting of timber from Crown land.

“John Horgan needs to hold himself accountable, stop making excuses and stop the job losses in this province,” Rustad said. “At a time when forestry workers across the province should be hard at work, instead they are facing job losses and no paycheques.”

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said Thursday the province must proceed carefully on any changes to B.C. stumpage is well known to incite protests from U.S. lumber producers, who have argued for decades that B.C.’s lumber is subsidized by artificially low cost of logs.

“Messing with the stumpage system is not a solution,” Donaldson told Black Press.

Donaldson also noted that during his bried time as forests minister in 2017, Rustad predicted up to 10 mills closing due to the decline in timber supply due to pine beetle damage.

Canfor, Interfor, West Fraser, Tolko and other lumber producers have announced temporary and permanent mill closures across the province in recent weeks, citing the scarcity of sawlogs in the B.C. Interior and a long slide in prices for construction lumber in recent months.

The downturn has spread to oriented strandboard producers. Louisiana Pacific announced Thursday it is shutting down its OSB production facility in Taylor, B.C. in August, after a similar announcement by Norbord for its OSB plant in 100 Mile House earlier this week.

RELATED: Norbord shutdown affects 160 workers in 100 Mile House

RELATED: Canfor temporarily shutting down sawmills across B.C.

Wilkinson and Rustad are calling on the B.C. government to reduce stumpage and carbon tax on forest companies, their logging contractors and other businesses that depend on the forest industry “until market conditions stabilize.”

Their suggestions include creating a fund for communities hit by the recent closures and curtailments, to put laid-off employees to work on wildfire prevention projects. Fuel load from decades of forest fire suppression has been a factor in recent record fire seasons.

Wildfire prevention projects are being funded and federal and provincial governments are working together to provide “short-term support for workers and communities,” Donaldson said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

North Island College going digital for spring, summer terms

Students won’t need to be on campus for coursework, labs or exams

Campbell River elementary school wins Follett Challenge award

Willow Point School earned $5,000 US in Follett products and software

Sayward Clean Up Days postponed in April

July event to go as scheduled until further notice

RCMP looking for missing Campbell River man

Bernard Eberlein was last seen in Campbell River on March 27

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

6.5-magnitude earthquake in Idaho shakes B.C. Interior

An earthquake was reportedly felt just before 5 p.m. throughout the Okanagan

John Horgan extends B.C.’s state of emergency for COVID-19

Premier urges everyone to follow Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice

B.C.’s first community COVID-19 death was dentist ‘dedicated’ to health: lawyer

Vincent was 64 when he died on March 22 after attending the Pacific Dental Conference

Two inmates at prison housing Robert Pickton test positive for COVID-19

Correctional Service of Canada did not release any details on the identities of the inmates

BC SPCA launches matching campaign to help vulnerable animals after big donations

Two BC SPCA donors have offered up to $65,000 in matching donations

Quarantined B.C. mom say pandemic has put special-needs families in ‘crisis mode’

Surrey’s Christine Williams shares family’s challenges, strengths

Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Two arrested after man lies about COVID-19 illness to stay in Victoria Airbnb for free

Victoria Police found stolen goods inside the occupied unit

Most Read