President’s Report – 19th Annual AGM

“Your association exists to ensure the well being of your industry. The most effective way to ensure a healthy industry is to increase the demand for your services while ensuring there are standards that define that service, therefore helping to restrict access from unqualified providers.”

In preparing this speech I kept going back to a conversation that John Betts and I had two years ago with Aiden Vinning, a well-known economics professor at SFU. We were describing our industry to him and asking how our association could be more effective. This statement keeps ringing home for me:

“Your association exists to ensure the well being of your industry. The most effective way to ensure a healthy industry is to increase the demand for your services while ensuring there are standards that define that service, therefore helping to restrict access from unqualified providers.”

This has been the filter or perspective that I have used to view this years’ WSCA initiatives.

Increasing Demand for our Services

FRBC, in its’ current configuration, represents lost opportunity for our Industry. I think it fair to say that all off us have been disappointed, if not appalled. at the level of political tampering apparent in the process of getting FRBC funding actually to the forest. The last two years we have spent considerable time trying to moderate the impact of FRBC’s ill-conceived structure. Newfo especially has taken an inordinate amount of the John and the boards’ time. My personal read on FRBC is that its days are numbered. There is now talk of big change, even in FRBC itself and a change of government will certainly clean house as evident by the Liberals announcement that “all HCL style models will be dismantled with the next Government.” (Truck Loggers convention in January) One of the WSCA’s next big challenges will be helping form a transition to a more practical funding model, as has been outlined in the “Forest Trust” document that was presented to Dave Zirnhelt two weeks ago. The new model utilizes some simple yet elegant solutions to funding and administration that have made the Basic Silviculture program a success.

This year is an important cross roads for our industry. Historically, we were excluded from the process of constructing Forest Renewal. Our exclusion defines why FRBC has always lacked the common sense and practical smarts that our industry represents and stands for. Through the vigilant lobbying of John Betts, Dirk Brinkman, myself and the executive the “FRBC replacement” will have our mark on it. We have become an important contributor to a process that will lead us to some more enlightened forest policy. Our contributions have take the form of: “involvement in the forest policy review being done by Gary Wotters,” “gathering information and discussing alternatives with some of the larger coastal licensees,” “working with Dirk Brinkman to present the Forest Trust, document to Government,” and “consulting with the Liberals on effective forest policy (our Government in waiting).”

There are many other means of increasing opportunity that we can explore, but none more pressing than replacing FRBC. Specifically the idea of global warming and the use of carbon tax credits by forest-based economies represent a great opportunity for our Industry. Some of our lobbying energy should be directed to highlighting this in the future.

Defining Standards for our Industry

We started a process with the employment standard branch to redefine the labour standards language that describes our Industry. This process started a year and a half ago. I personally was preparing myself for a very bureaucratic experience, but was surprised to find that we were involved in a creative process that really was trying to rethink the way the legislation describes us. Terms like time “free from work” as opposed to “overtime” and a desire to genuinely find consensus between employers and employees were some of the themes. The new regulations are being finalized and they should go through the legislature in the next few months. As a spin off from this process, the idea of licensing was brought forward as a method for the Employment Standards Branch to ensure compliance and work with the WSCA to identify standards for the Industry.

Historically the WSCA has always favored more regulation of bad operators and the creation of a more professional Silviculture Industry. To date we have lacked an effective vehicle to accomplish this. The idea of tying licensing to the new labour regulations could be the opportunity that we have been waiting for. We have had the support of the WSCA board of directors from the initial discussions and want to have some healthy debate from the membership to enable the new directors to take advantage of this opportunity. Peter Gommerud has done considerable amount of research on licensing over the last few years and will be making a presentation later on in the agenda. Peter is also heading up our licensing committee and will be spearheading the process with ESB There are many positive benefits to licensing, not the least of which is creating an environment were our clients are more able to choose the most qualified contractor. This helps foster the choice of best value over low price, which is the main driver of a stable market and fair prices for our Industry.

Conclusion

This coming year will see the reconfiguring of Intensive Silviculture as we know it and a great potential for professionalizing our Industry through licensing. We will need a strong board to face the challenge. I have been president for two years, and only lately have felt on top of the issues. A third year would allow some of the current initiatives to bear fruit and be logical end of my term as president. With this in mind, given the members vote of confidence, I will stand for another year.