Unifor brought forestry workers from British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference in Quebec City to raise awareness about forestry issues and opportunities in the sector.
“Many of us have met with our local representatives at all levels of government, but FCM provided us a unique and valuable opportunity to speak with hundreds of municipal leaders in one venue,” said Ian Hutchison, Atlantic Regional Chair and forestry member in Saint John, New Brunswick. “Mayors and councillors from big cities and small towns alike recognized their community’s important connections to the forestry sector and talked with us about how vital it was to their economies.”
Big city mayors like Naheed Nenshi of Calgary, Bonnie Crombie of Mississauga and Mike Savage of Halifax stopped by the Unifor booth, in addition to hundreds of mayors and city councillors from across Canada. Members plan to schedule follow-up meetings and encourage councils to pass a municipal resolution of support for forestry. Read the Unifor lobby document here.
Unifor represents more than 26,000 forestry workers across the country. The sector is facing several challenges including the growing impact of softwood lumber tariffs, ongoing crises from insect damage, unchecked raw log exports, and several other policies that negatively impact key forestry operations and sustainable harvest levels.
“Forestry has a bright future and can be a key player in greening our economy and providing good-paying, sustainable jobs in communities big and small for generations to come,” said Jerry Dias, National President. “Most city officials understand the value-add in the forestry sector is vital and there’s huge potential for this sector to be part of the green economy policies they’re exploring.”
Dias hosted a reception for delegates and spoke to other challenges faced by municipal leaders. With increased downloading of service responsibility onto municipalities, the urgent need for affordable housing, and increasing infrastructure modernization and growth, councillors have a lot on their plates.
“We have to fight back against the aggressive cuts to services at the provincial level by conservative premiers in order to protect and grow prosperous cities with dependable services where people want to live, work and raise their families,” said Dias. “We can’t cut our way forward – we have to invest in and build the communities we want for our future.”
L-R: Hugues Perrault, Vince Lukacs, Ivan Vasko, Mike Lambert, Terry Farrell, and Shelley Amyotte
“I’ve made my career in forestry and I’m passionate about my industry. We are the tree-planters, the forest-keepers and the crafters of products we build our lives around. I’m intensely proud of that and want to share my optimism for the future of forestry with others.” – Don McLean, forestry worker, Alberta.
“It’s a privilege to have an opportunity to speak about such an important issue for our membership with elected officials from across the country. We need their support and to make them aware of the challenges and opportunities we are facing.” – Hugues Perrault, Political Action Quebec
“Forestry has grown and changed over the years, rising to meet modern standards and developing increasingly innovative and sustainable practices. We’re pushing every level of government to invest real time and resources to protect this sector, our beautiful and productive forest lands, and the hundreds of thousands of forestry jobs so many communities rely on.” – Mike Lambert, Unifor Forestry Director.