The graveyard shift at the Chemainus sawmill was trimmed and then the Western Forest Products mill, along with other WFP mills, was shut down by a strike. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Forest industry facing tough time

Strikes and layoffs starting to take a toll

These are indeed tough times for the forest industry and the Chemainus Valley is caught right in the middle of it.

As the United Steelworkers union strike at Western Forest Products mills drags past the three-month mark, including at the Chemainus sawmill, the prognosis isn’t good for the industry or the workers.

There have been considerable layoffs, curtailments – whatever you want to call them – at mills throughout B.C. the past few months.

The WFP situation is starting to have a ripple-down effect with other businesses in the community and industries that rely on the money spent by those residents who now aren’t receiving a regular paycheque.

Certainly, the Crofton Catalyst Paper Excellence pulp mill is having to take a close look at its operations for the ramifications of such things as the diminished hog fuel supply.

Drastic times call for drastic measures and industry truckers took it upon themselves to make their concerns known through a convoy into downtown Vancouver where the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention was being held.

The forest industry has long been the lifeblood of so many small towns, in particular, including this one. Some towns are already seeing people leaving to find work elsewhere.

The industry is in vast need of a resurgence, with provincial and federal assistance, and that’s the hope of so many workers caught in the crunch of the downturn.

Meanwhile, the candidates for prime minister continue to throw out all sorts of promises on the election campaign, but you wonder how many they’ll be able to keep and whether some of their talk right now is pure rhetoric.

Justin Trudeau has continually said on his four-year watch that so many million new jobs have been created. Where are they?

We seldom hear specifics and it might be a lot of coffee shop jobs and not the higher-paying jobs needed to fuel the economy.

B.C. voters will have to take a close look at where our primary industry is headed. The party leaders are on the hot seat to come up with a solution and fast because there’s no time to waste.

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