Western Forestry Contractors’ Association
Rumour Mill RoundUpDate
23 April 2021
Volume 21 Issue 5

Warning: Facts contained in this issue, like all facts, may have absolute value when observed, but can change due to the effects of current events’ velocity and gravity and variations to the point of view of the observer.

New BC PHO Industrial Camps Order Reinstates
Previous COVID-19 Laws Including Some Changes for Tree Planting Crews

B.C. tree planters working from camps, or other employer-provided accommodations, may be able to interact internally more normally in terms of social distancing and cohorts if they can remain virus-free at work for at least two weeks according to a new Provincial Health Officer Order released last week. The WFCA had requested the change in order to make work more practical and to reduce the mental health risk to planters who remain more or less a captive workforce for the months-long planting season. The Order requires crews to be self-contained limiting their interactions with communities to dedicated camp suppliers and managed essential visits for workers needing health care or other necessities. The change from last year’s requirements is set against strict rules for masks, health checks, barriers etc. and greater expectations of COVID coordinators along with having available qualified professional medical support in the event of sickness. A BC Centre for Disease Control guidance document to support the law is in the final stages of review and will be released soon. To read the Order please click here.

WFCA Working to Harmonize B.C. and Alberta
Industrial Camp COVID-19 Rules for Tree Planting Camps

Alberta Health Service’s (AHS) laws applying to tree planting operations differ from the recently announced British Columbia Industrial Camp Order. Alberta requires social distancing for the full duration of a camps’ and crews’ operations posing problems for the hundreds of BC-based planters who will migrate to Alberta during the planting season. Some Alberta contractors are worried they may lose workers to B.C. if their crews don’t have the prospect of reduced COVID-19 constraints once they are proven to be virus-free. The WFCA has reached out to the AHS saying both B.C. and Alberta contractors and workers would benefit if the provinces had the same laws. Last year Alberta planted over 100-million seedlings many of them planted by B.C.-based employers.

New B.C. Travel Restrictions Won’t Apply to Work: Traveling Forestry Workers Should Carry Letters of Employment Says Safety Advocate

B.C.’s five health authorities have been combined into three regions with
non-essential travel between them prohibited by law.

BC Forestry Safety Advocate, Jordan Tesluk, has been recommending tree planters traveling to work in British Columbia from within or without the province should carry letters attesting they are employees either on the job or en route to one. Now that recommendation appears even more practical with our BC government announcing how it will enforce its recent travel ban on non-essential travel with periodic road checks along major travel corridors. Travel to work is considered essential travel and is permitted, but Tesluk says being able to prove you are a worker is advisable. With similar restrictions in force in other provinces and territories, employers, so far, have reported no impediments to employees as they travel from across Canada to work here.

TEAAM Sets Ambitious Goal of 5000 Patrons Along
with Plans to Open Prince George Base in June

As we deal with COVID-19 the other operational risks to the sector
have not gone away, especially when it comes to emergency response planning
for seriously injured workers on remote and difficult access sites.

The WFCA is urging its members and all others to sign on with Sqamish-based Technical Evacuation Advance Aero Medical (TEAAM) as part of their helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) response planning for seriously injured workers in remote locations. TEAAM has launched a patronage drive in order to have 5,000 individuals covered by the end of next month; the threshold needed to offer insurance to patrons for the costs of a mission, which can amount to thousands of dollars depending on the distance traveled and the resources needed. With plans underway to establish a second TEAAM base operating out of Prince George the non-profit group will soon be able to respond to calls across large areas of BC and parts of Alberta where forestry crews will be active this spring and summer. Planting contractors who have used TEAAM have paid for mission costs—there have been three in the last two years—on their own, reducing suffering and complications to seriously injured workers. The WFCA continues to work with WorkSafeBC and BC Forest Safety to find ways for the industry as a whole to support HEMS as the standard for emergency response for all resource workers in the province. For more information on TEAAM’s patronage and insurance plan contact Natalie at https://www.teaam.ca/

Virtual Consultation Service for Mental Health
Available to Workers

A remote workers mental health program (RWMHP) designed specifically for tree planters is being offered to employers by a group of registered therapeutic counsellors through Reset Counselling. The service intends to be a short-term bridge that offers skills and insight into the factors that both collectively and personally affect workers. The RWMHP aims to help people deal with and overcome issues that are causing emotional pain or making them feel uncomfortable. Offering support and psycho-education to individuals can increase and strengthen mental wellness and thus physical well-being. Employers interested in setting this service up for their workers can contact Shannon Rue for more information at shannonrue@gmail.com or call 250-643-0293.

Last Chance for Commemorative 9-Billion Seedling COVID-19 Masks

Why not order a commemorative 9-billion seedling face mask? They are likely to remain fashionable for a while. Tropical shirt is extra.

OK. Understandably, maybe the pandemic is not something people will want to remember with souvenirs. Of course, the commemorative 9-billion seedling face mask is actually about commemorating the 9-billion seedlings we’ve planted here in B.C. Nevertheless, it is a face mask intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and we’re all looking forward to forgetting that. But that may be some way off given current trends. So why not order a few dozen of these masks so we can put together a minimum order of 200 and make another donation to Forest Without Borders? For information on costs, colours, and shipping contact the WFCA office at admin@wfca.ca.