VICTORIA (March 17, 2023) – BC Liberal MLAs stood shoulder-to-shoulder with local forestry workers at a rally in downtown Merritt this morning, supporting Aspen Planers mill workers and contractors.
“These workers and their families are hurting. They need reassurance that the government is working swiftly to get them back on the job,” says Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart. “I have written to the Forests Minister, respectfully requesting his ministry and government take action to issue permits and provide certainty to Aspen Planers as soon as possible, but received no response. This government is missing in action, and forestry-dependent communities like Merritt are suffering the consequences.”
MLA Mike Bernier, the BC Liberals’ Shadow Minister for Forestry, also attended the rally and says the NDP isn’t doing enough to help the forestry industry thrive once again.
“This government’s failed forestry policies are leading to more mill closures and curtailments, whether it’s the impacts being felt here in Merritt or in other communities in the Interior, North and on Vancouver Island,” says Bernier. “Workers and contractors in Merritt and beyond need to know government has their backs. How did the NDP go from a promise of no mill closures in 2017, to the devastation in the industry we see today?”
Also at the rally was MLA Michael Lee, the BC Liberals’ Shadow Minister for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. He notes many First Nations forestry operations are also being hurt by the NDP’s neglect of the industry.
“We have been listening to First Nations contractors, who have told us that for them and indeed, for all contractors, government inaction is holding them back and hurting their small businesses,” says Lee. “They are demanding action from the NDP so they can return to work and have permits in place, so they know what to plan for. Clearly a change in course is needed, and it’s needed quickly.”