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Jan. 31, 2024
VICTORIA – Workers in British Columbia’s silviculture sector, including forestry workers, tree planters and staff at nurseries, will benefit from new training to better prepare them to prevent and mitigate wildfires.
“Climate change is real, and every Canadian has felt the effect of it last summer with the heatwaves and the wildfires that happened nationwide,” said Randy Boissonnault, federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages. “This is why the Government of Canada is working in partnership with the Government of British Columbia to improve the training, recruitment, and protection of silviculture workers. This investment is important for the safety of Canadians and the future of our forest sector.”
In partnership with the Western Forestry Contractors’ Association, a two-year pilot project will ensure workers around the province are trained to understand risks, mitigations and have the skills required for best fire safety practices in B.C.’s forests.
“Through this new pilot project and partnership, more silviculture workers will get the training they need to perform their vital work in B.C.’s forests,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills. “This training will help keep these workers safe and also mitigate and prevent wildfires across the province.”
New training in fire prevention, climate change awareness and hands-on training with forestry tools will be provided through $900,000 from the 2022-23 Canada-British Columbia Workforce Development Agreement (WDA). The WDA provides gainful opportunities for workers and helps employers find the people they need to drive B.C.’s economy forward.
“The silviculture labour-force strategy will ensure that B.C.’s silviculture sector continues to grow and diversify its workforce, while learning new skills necessary to restore our forests and mitigate the effects of climate change on our landscapes,” said John Betts, executive director, Western Forestry Contractors’ Association.
The project also includes a new training course for silviculture workers and managers that will increase Indigenous cultural knowledge and contribute to a more diverse and inclusive silviculture workforce in B.C.
The project will also include the development of new career-path material for job seekers, recruitment and retention materials to support small and medium-sized employers and a sector job board hosted by the Western Forestry Contractors’ Association website.
Each year, the Government of Canada provides approximately more than $450 million for training and employment supports to British Columbians through the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Development Agreement and the Canada-British Columbia WDA, supporting approximately 70,000 British Columbians annually.
Bruce Ralston, B.C. Minister of Forests –
“The forestry sector is a cornerstone of B.C.’s economy and the hard-working people who make up this industry are its lifeblood. The training opportunities that come from this new partnership will give forestry workers the skills they need to stay safe while protecting the vitality of our forests in the face of wildfires. Thank you to Western Forestry Contractors’ Association for their hard work in leading the way on this initiative.”
Sylvia Fenwick-Willson, supervisor, Zanzibar Holdings –
“As forestry workers are involved in restoring landscapes across the province, I think it is particularly important to be aware of the culture and history of the Indigenous people on whose traditional territories we are fortunate to be working.”
Jordan Tesluk, B.C. forestry safety advocate –
“We are increasingly working in conditions affected by climate change, including wildfire on the land. Being more aware of the risks of wildfire and how to manage them as forestry workers is critical to keeping ourselves and our forests safe from fire.”
To know about Sector Labour Market Partnerships Program, visit: https://www.workbc.ca/find-loans-and-grants/industry-and-employers/sector-labour-market-partnerships-program
Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills