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Western Forestry Contractors’ Association
Rumour Mill RoundUpDate
28 May 2021
Volume 21 Issue 7

Warning: Some parts of this publication may not contain all the available facts due to ongoing investigations and matters of privacy.

WorkSafeBC Investigates Firms in Connections with
Planting COVID-19 Outbreak

After Northern Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak last week on a Quesnel tree planting crew WorkSafeBC is now auditing COVID-19 practices and compliances on the companies involved. One of the nine workers infected has died. Previous Workplace Closure Orders issued May 10th to MikeGroSite Consulting Ltd. and Dewan Enterprise Ltd. remain in place. The companies were planting for BC Timber Sales. The WFCA has cooperated with the agencies involved since it first heard reports early this month of sick workers on a crew working from Quesnel. According to allegations received from two employees who got sick, there were no COVID-19 protocols in place at work, or in accommodations, and little or no support from their employers once they had symptoms. In announcing the outbreak Northern Health stated it had “determined that that infection control measures were not sufficient to prevent further transmission of COVID-19 in employer-sourced staff lodging, transportation, and field-work settings.”

Ministry of Health Coordinates with Forestry Sector to Vaccinate Workers While Alberta Moves to Adopt Similar Social Distancing Protocols as in BC Camps and Crews

Transient planters, many from out of province, can be vaccinated now in coordination with the BC SAFE Forestry Program and BC Ministry of Health. Small dogs may not be eligible.

To be precise there are an estimated 4,731 tree planters in the field this week in BC — this is according to forestry work attestations received by our government. Close to 3,200 are working from 68 camps with another 1,300 located in 93 hotels. With the exception of the COVID-19 outbreak in Quesnel, we have reports, so far, of only three workers testing positive on three crews, all of whom were complying with the PHO order and practices. As a result, only two crews had to isolate affected cohorts as required by law. Now all workers involved are healthy and back at work. Nearly all isolating crews in BC are at, or have passed, the period when infections are likely to show up. BC Forest Safety Advocate Jordan Tesluk is working with the BC Ministry of Public health and contractors to vaccinate as many as 2,000 workers at various locations throughout the province starting next week. Many employers have already worked with health units to take advantage of surplus dosages in communities they are working near. Alberta health authorities are expected to adopt similar protocols as BC that would allow self-contained crews to enjoy closer to normal socializing once they have gone sufficient time without anyone testing positive, combined with following a regimen of rapid antigen testing on site. Alberta is expected to plant close to 100-million seedlings this year with an estimated 1,000 workers, many of whom work in BC as well.

How Many Trees Can All Tree Planters Plant
in One Day Across Canada?

Plans are being made for our nation’s tree planters to set a record for the total number of trees that can be planted in one day across Canada. Billed as “The Best Day Ever” national planting day, June 10th will see, we hope, participants from across the old Dominion shoot for their personal best — if that is their idea of their best day ever — and show just how many seedlings our country can plant in one planetary rotation. The idea is not just about production. The WFCA and its planners want it to be a celebration of the planting culture and the contribution this honest work makes to us individually and to the nation as a whole. For more information send a note to CanadianTreePlanters@wfca.ca

Much of BC Abnormally Dry or in Moderate Drought


May’s drought map shows increasing drying through large areas of the province compared to April. See for yourself.

The current unsettled weather pattern affecting much of the province — in some cases briefly snowing-out planting crews at higher elevations in the south — may not make much of a dent in the dry and drought conditions that have covered large swathes of the province so far this spring. It looks like it will be up to June and its possible monsoons to either correct the trend or set us up for a hot and dry summer. Current predictions are for a normal fire year after two summers with little smoke. But “normal” in these climate-changing times is becoming a tricky reference point. Earlier this month the U.S. NOAA announced new climate and weather normals based on averages from 1991 to 2020 showing a warmer normal. Read more here.

Employers and Employees: Last Chance to Participate in
Labour Market Study

The Western Forestry Contractors’ Association (WFCA) is undertaking a labour market study to help create a Human Resources Strategy for the BC silviculture sectors. Funding for this study is provided through the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Development Agreement’s Sector Labour Market Partnerships (SLMP) Program.

Your participation is critical for the success of the study and the resulting Human Resources Strategy! We would like to thank nearly 100 employers in the sector who already participated in the survey!

Employers, if you haven’t participated yet, please click on the link below to complete the survey. You will be entered in a lottery to win $1,000 upon the completion of the survey. Employer Survey.

We would like to hear from the silviculture employees and have their voice reflected in the new Silviculture Human Resources Strategy!

Employers, please forward the following link to your employees and encourage them to participate! There are $2,000 in prizes to be won by employees for participating in the survey! Employee Survey.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Qatalyst Research Group, an independent management consulting firm leading this study. You can reach their representative:

Shea Wakefield
shea.wakefield@qatalyst.ca
778-379-5590 (ext 3)
Toll-Free: 1-844-584-9343.