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HomeNewsQuesnel Mayor Applauds Worker Transition Money From Province. Eyes Community Money...

Quesnel Mayor Applauds Worker Transition Money From Province. Eyes Community Money Next

Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson applauds the province for unilaterally supplying 69-million dollars in funding to support forest workers impacted by mill closures and shift reductions.

Simpson says they were trying to work with the Federal Government to do a joint agreement around this, but this was the right course of action…

“A lot of the domain the province is now going to unilaterally fund is usually a joint partnership between the federal government and provincial government because it’s covered by employment insurance, and both the employers and the employees pay into that and it’s time for some of that to come back, but the current government understands that this has got to be done. We’re now in a federal election, so they are taking this unilateral action and I applaud them for taking that step.”

Simpson says it reflects what all of the transition teams from the impacted communities have been saying is needed…

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“The kinds of programs that we need to get some of the older workers out of the workforce, that bridging into pension. We’ve had requests here in Quesnel from some of the older workers from Tolko to just be able to bridge into their pension, and for some of the retooling of the younger workforce.”

And he also likes the idea of actually appointing an individual to monitor the program on an employee by employee basis…

“I think in the past previous governments poured money at the situation but not actually looked at the value for that dollars. Is it being effective, are we actually transitioning workers or are we just talking about it, so this program actually does some due diligence for the taxpayers on monitoring the efficacy of the program. Is it being effective, is it doing what we intend to do, is it repositioning these forestry workers into real jobs for the long term ?”

Simpson says the next step, which wasn’t announced yesterday, will be to help communities adjust to the struggles in the forest industry…

“We also need significant funding for community protection and for our forest land rehabilitation. What does that program look like ? How will it be funded ? How do we quickly protect communities from future fire and how do we begin to rehabilitate that land base ? I believe that the overage in the fire budget should be used towards that in the coming years. So this year we had thankfully a very low fire season, who knows what next year is going to be like, but there was a large amount in the budget for this year’s fire season, it’s not all going to be spent, the numbers aren’t in yet but it won’t all be spent. I believe whatever is left in that budget should be going straight to community protection against future fires and forests land base rehabilitation.”

Simpson says he plans to ask those questions and make that suggestion next week at the Union of BC Municipalities convention.

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