Employment Standards and Safety Complaints Prompt Meeting With Ministers

In April the WSCA will meet with Graham Bruce Minister of Skills Development and Labour and Minister of State for Forest Operations Roger Harris to seek government’s cooperation in enforcing silvicultural contracting compliance with the minimum requirements of the Employment Standards Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act.

Employment Standards and Safety Complaints Prompt Meeting With Ministers

The mother of a young treeplanter recently wrote the following to Roger Harris her MLA and the newly appointed B.C. Minister of State for Forestry Operations: “My daughter was a treeplanter last year. By the end of her summer, after working for a number of outfits around the northwest, I was amazed at the fact that we have an industry that is so unregulated to the point of it being unsafe in certain instances for planters. Except for one exceptional company, the experiences she had as an employee included: no safety training, forgetting people out on the cut block, marijuana in the crummy going home, no satellite phone connection in remote camps, excessive travel time each day because the company did not want to set up a camp, minimal nutrition, obviously no WCB oversight, late payment of wages (she didn’t get one cheque until Christmas) not to mention minimal to no planting standards in some cases.”

In April the WSCA will meet with Graham Bruce Minister of Skills Development and Labour and Minister Harris, not to defend the above practices (those of a well-known, long-time contractor), but to seek government’s cooperation in enforcing compliance with the minimum requirements of the Employment Standards Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act. Like the mother, who runs a business and heads her local Liberal Party of B.C. Riding Association, contractors raised the issue of regulatory shirking among their competitors at the WSCA conference strategic session last month. A special sub-committee of the WSCA Board has been struck to deal with regulatory compliance and competition. It will also meet with principles of major forest companies across the province to urge their due diligence on these issues as well.

Editor’s note: The owner of the “exceptional company” mentioned in the letter tells me he is on the brink of extinction; unable to compete. The mother, meanwhile, says her daughter would not complain about her employers’ treatment for fear of jeopardizing her chance to work treeplanting next season.