Western Forestry Contractors’ Association
Rumour Mill RoundUpDate
12 June 2020
Volume 20 Issue 7

Warning: Some facts may appear in groups larger than six in this publication as part of our phase II fact strategy.

Season going OK, but planting on “crews-control” has its strains

WFCA

On their own: social distancing and camp-motel isolation during COVID-19 brings a new set of mental health challenges for some workers and their supervisors who have to deal with them.

Due to unforeseen circumstances we have quit predicting the future. Nevertheless, our spring planting season is proceeding with far less calamity than we might have predicted under COVID-19 conditions. We hope this will continue. But it is coming at a cost, particularly in the area of the mental health of workers and crews. On a WFCA call today contractors described how the normal fatigue for this time of the season was aggravated by the looming social anxiety that many workers arrived with. Compounding that are the extraordinary limiting measures crews based in camps and motels have taken to protect themselves and communities from the virus. That strategy is working, but the lifting of restraints across the rest of society has many workers and contractors anticipating some kind of partial relief that might allow more interactions within their crews, while maintaining separation from the general herd. The WFCA has approached the Provincial Health Office with a proposal along those lines. Meanwhile, some contractors have resorted to outside counselling for some acute cases. Employers have also resorted to creative measures around their pods to allow for safe socializing among their workers. Given how well the workforce has behaved, perhaps that is due.

Some licensee foresters still unaware of extra COVID-19 safety costs guidance

We are well into the Interior planting season and still hearing from contractors of licensees apparently unaware of the Timber Pricing Branch’s guidance on how incremental COVID-19 safety costs for tree planting will be factored into the silviculture cost estimates used in the stumpage appraisal system. For everyone’s information and in the interests of having contractors’ additional costs to implement required COVID-19 measures fairly compensated by our clients we have posted the document here.

Tree planters raise $75,000 for food banks across BC

WFCA

Worth a day’s work. Naoise Beaule, one of a handful of tree planters whose exceptional charity extended to donating all their day’s earnings on World Hunger Day to a local food bank as part of a reforestation sector effort to support rural BC communities.

Here is some charitable news. Between May 28 and June 2, tree planters in Western Canada joined together to raise funds for food banks and local charities in honor of World Hunger Day. Together, the industry raised a total of $75,000 – equivalent to over 220,000 meals according to Food Banks Canada, with each meal approximately matched by one tree planted in the field. Contractors and workers contributed to local food banks in towns near their worksites, with donations made from Tahsis and Quadra Island, to Smithers and Prince George, to Williams Lake and Quesnel, to Princeton and Kimberley, and many other towns. Read more here.

Workplace harassment, bullying and assault awareness week set for late June.

The week of June 20 to 26 will be dedicated to raising awareness around workplace bullying, harassment and assault on tree planting and other forestry and wildfire crews. The week, which will feature crew talks and educational sessions, is part of an ongoing BC SAFE Forestry Program campaign to reduce the risks of violence and abuse to both women and men from fellow workers and supervisors. According to the week’s organizer BC Forestry Safety Advocate Jordan Tesluk, “In seasonal operations, circumstances and social pressures can change over the course of many weeks in shared living and working spaces. These review meetings can serve as important reminders about the standards of respectful behavior and our commitment to maintaining harassment-free workplaces for all people.”

George Abbot writes about what went wrong with Campbell government in upcoming book Big Promises, Small Government

WFCA

Then Minister of Health George Abbott with Premier Gordon Campbell in 2006 looking younger and just maybe a little disaffected…

It may be a truism that it’s always back in the good old days when the seeds of current catastrophe were sown. Certainly, they were good days for the BC Liberals when Gordon Campbell led them into power almost twenty years ago. Not only did they have the momentum of an electoral landslide, they were carried along by the certainty of their small government ideology. Just how that certitude failed the province, many of its ministries, and some of our most vulnerable citizens is the subject of former BC Liberal Cabinet Minister George Abbott’s upcoming book Big Promises, Small Government: Doing Less With Less in the BC Liberal New Era. Writing as an insider Abbott outlines how tax policy then was intended to stimulate the economy. But when that failed, while education and health care were protected, it was left to smaller social ministries to absorb the cuts to maintain a balanced budget. Many of those agencies struggled to achieve their mandate and serve their clients. The province’s ministry of forests didn’t escape punishment either, with lay-offs and a reduction to their mandate and programs leading to consequences for the reforestation sector. Today’s parlous state of our forests and the forest industry can’t be blamed on the BC Liberals. But it is not a coincidence that today’s NDP government is busy with legislation to revise professional reliance and the Forest and Range Practices Act; two products of the BC Liberal New Era. Abbott has often spoken at our WFCA conferences with a certain deadpan irony about being a “recovering politician.” To order the book please click here.