After meeting with Minister Bell in May we were assured that the province’s 2009 $53-million annual Forest For Tomorrow program would survive any budget cuts that may follow the election.

However, in meeting with the senior MoF officials just last week that original figure is now at $42-million. We pointed out the $11-million discrepancy and will pursue it with the Minister of Forests once the new Cabinet is announced.

Just as pressing in the short term is the pre-election Supply Bill that limits program spending across government to 5/12ths of their proposed budgets. This requirement, which is normal when an election and a budget approval process get in each other’s way, sent a shock through the FFT program as recipients worried whether there were going to be dollars in place to implement programs. Best estimates suggest it might not be until mid-summer before the full warranted program dollars will be available. This raised further concerns that the available field season would not be long enough to complete on-the-ground projects necessary to implement next year’s program; particularly planting.

However, in meetings with FFT representatives, they expressed confidence that they have been able to manage the funding flow to prevent any program bottlenecks. They are confident that the FFT program will live up to its expectations both this year and next, in spite of the budget process. Anyone still finding problems with the implementation of the FFT program or in dealing on this topic with the program administrators should get in touch with the WSCA.

PriceWaterhouse Coopers will no longer be the third party administrator for the Ministry of Forest’s Forest For Tomorrow Program or the Forest Investment Account Forest Science Program due to budget constraints associated with this fiscal year. The Mininstry of Forests stated that the change was not attributable to PWC’s performance of their duties. PWC will remain the third party administrator of the FIA $48-million (fiscal ’08/’09) Land Base Investment Program.

With the Ministry appearing to be on track to reprising, at least in part, its role in delivering forestry programs the consulting foresters have become unsettled by the possibility that they too may see diminished opportunities. They met earlier in May with the then Deputy Minister of Forests John Dyble and raised this concern.

John Betts,
Executive Director
Western Silvicultural Contractors’ Association
Ph: 250-229-4380