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Increases in raw log exports sucking money out of BC’s forest industry: CCPA-BC

The BC government has shipped more raw logs out of the province in the last four years than any other government before it.

That’s according to new analysis by the BC office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA-BC) which estimates that close to 26 million cubic meters of raw logs, valued at more than $3 billion were shipped out of BC between 2013 and 2016.

“If you look at the last year alone, 6.3 million cubic meters of raw logs exported from BC” says Ben Parfitt, a resource policy analyst with the CCPA. “Had those logs been processed here in the province instead, I’m conservatively estimating that we could have generated another 3,600 jobs.”

The CCPA says the amount of raw logs being sent out of BC has surged in recent years.

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Parfitt says it’s clear where the government’s priorities lie.

“I think it’s very clear that this particular industry has been largely neglected by the provincial government over the last several years as it has pursued its ambitions to see a liquified natural gas industry in the province.”

Parfitt says, instead of chasing LNG, money would be better spent investing in state of the art saw mills – at about 100 million apiece – each of which could employ up to 300 people in rural communities across the province.

He believes the government’s amenability to exporting raw logs could be a sign of things to come.

“The longer we continue with the status quo, the greater the risk that we’re going to see increasing log exports, nt from the coast, but from the interior of the province as well. That is a scenario that most people in rural British Columbia would not support.”

The BCCPA’s analysis has prompted the Public and Private Workers of Canada, UNIFOR, the Ancient Forests Alliance, Sierra Club of BC and the Wilderness committee to call for an immediate ban on all old growth raw log exports, an immediate and progressive boost to taxes for second growth raw log exports and new policies to focus on creating jobs through value added wood products made in BC.

“This carnage has to stop,” says Arnold Bercov, president of the Public and Private Workers of Canada, which represents BC pulp and paper mill workers. “Last year, BC forest companies exported enough raw logs to frame nearly 134,000 houses, which equals roughly half of Vancouver’s single-family homes. Thousands of good-paying jobs in rural communities are at risk every day that the government fails to act.”

For Parfitt,of particular concern is the fact that most log exports in the past five years came from public lands under direct provincial control, not from private lands, a sharp reversal from previous norms.
Also of interest: nearly half of BC’s log export trade is dominated by member companies of the Coast Forest Products Association, one of BC’s most-powerful lobbies for continued raw log exports.

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