B.C’s Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is proposing the development of an action plan that sets out the details for further federal funding for the province’s struggling forestry sector.

Doug Donaldson has written a letter to federal Minister of Natural Resources, Amarjeet Sohi with the request following this week’s Canadian Council of Forest Ministers annual meeting in north-central Saskatchewan.

“We’ve working at a community level now with our rural development team assessing what the short term needs are for workers whether they’re unionized workers at mills or contractors in the forest, and then coming up with some targetted specific asks for the federal government and these are definitely within the jurisdiction authority of the federal government,” he said.

“One of them being we know in some communities a number of the workers are in an older demographic 55 and above for instance in one community that’s a third of the workers in the sawmill impacted and many them might be looking for early retirement incentive programs in order to bridge financially between now and when their pensions kick in, and so that’s something that we put in front of the federal government as a request and that we want to see some action on.”

Industry has announced numerous current and future reductions impacting more than 3,900 employees across 16 B.C. communities including the Cariboo.

21 Northern mayors and regional district leaders including Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb wrote to the feds earlier this month appealing for immediate help.

“We have five points that we’re asking for support on,” Donaldson said.

“I’m not ready to negotiate in public around those amounts but the letter that we supplied suggest to Minister Sohi that our deputy ministers federally and provincially connect and begin those discussions and negotations in an urgent manner.”