Forest Workers Appeal to New Premier

Forestry workers caught on the losing side of an income tax squabble between Forest Renewal B.C. (FRBC) and Revenue Canada have written a letter to British Columbia’s new Premier…

COURTENAY – Forestry workers who have been caught on the losing side of an income tax squabble between Forest Renewal B.C. (FRBC) and Revenue Canada have written a letter to British Columbia’s new Premier asking to meet with him over the issue of their tax reassessments, Shirley Siren, a Comox Valley Spokesperson of the forestry workers announced today.

“We are asking the premier to meet with us in order to hear our grievances with FRBC policy on this issue of taxation. We also wish to present our case for provincial funding to offset the federal income tax reassessments.

“As you well know, FRBC has abandoned its responsibility to the affected workers and we have no choice other than to take this step of writing to the new premier, Mr. Dosanjh, asking for a meeting to resolve this issue. To date, no one from FRBC or the provincial cabinet has offered the affected workers any resolution. We hope that by approaching Premier Dosanjh, we can bring to his attention the harm and financial stress that the previous administration’s inaction has caused to working families in BC.”

Dave Beaton, a forestry worker and one of the signatories to the letter added:

“The people, who have signed the letter, are victims of FRBC’s inaction on a resolution to the tax issue that it created. We have maintained that FRBC should honour its commitment to ‘no taxes for training support’. We were all promised that FRBC income support was income assistance, and thus, not taxable. Revenue Canada has disagreed. FRBC has refused to honour its commitment to the tax-free status of the training support. We are being left to twist in the wind with onerous tax bills.”

In 1996-7, FRBC created the Forest Worker Transition Program to aid forest workers whose employment was affected by the “Asian Flu” and general economic downturn. The program allowed people to access retraining options through post-secondary education. The program offered $7000 for books and tuition, and up to $20,000 as income assistance (social assistance) while the affected worker was in his/her educational program. FRBC failed to get a tax ruling from Revenue Canada as to the taxable status of the income support. As a consequence, thousands (approx. 6500 people), many ex-IWA members, made financial and educational decisions based on the understanding that there was no tax on any income assistance received from FRBC.

For further information contact:

Shirley Siren – Ph 1.250.337.5428 – E-mail hmsp@telus.net

Dave Beaton – Ph 1.250.923-8197 – E-mail djbeaton@hotmail.com