The British Columbia forest industry was deteriorating prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since mid-2019, B.C. has experienced a disproportionately high number of sawmill closures and curtailments compared with other states and provinces. If anything, the pandemic simply helped to accelerate the timeline.
And now the B.C. government is looking for ways to jump start the economy and put people back to work. According to Susan Yukovich, the CEO of the Council of Forest Industries (COFI) the forestry sector is ready and able to get people quickly back to work. Yukovich said, “We’ve been operating during the pandemic with safe work practices, and we can deliver a ton to the economy.”
However, Yukovich believes that the provincial government is hindering the very sector that could contribute to the economies revival. Russ Taylor, a consultant with Forest Economic Advisors summarized the situation saying “The one thing that’s closing sawmills in B.C. is stumpage rates. If you’re not going to address the stumpage rate, then you’re going to get mill closures, you’re going to get pulp mill closures and you’re going to get towns becoming bankrupt in a sense.”