MERRITT (October 2, 2019) – Jackie Tegart, MLA for Fraser-Nicola, is calling on John Horgan and the NDP to support forestry workers in Merritt who have been hit hard by the raft of recent mill closures.
Merritt Mayor Linda Brown has expressed concern that, following a meeting with NDP MLA Ravi Kahlon, her community was not likely to qualify for any of the government support funding due to the fact that the Aspen Planers mill is not yet closed and the funds are not retroactive to the Tolko closure a few years ago.
“John Horgan and the NDP have created an absolute mess, and communities like Merritt deserve answers and support from this government,” said Tegart. “In June, the BC Liberals presented a five-point plan to John Horgan that would get the industry back on track and help struggling workers and communities. The NDP have ignored our plan for four months while more and more mills cut back or shut down.”
Last month, in response to the forestry crisis the NDP announced they would raid the rural dividend fund, depriving rural communities of important funding for projects and services. The rural dividend fund was created so smaller communities could build capacity and promote economic diversification. Instead of new money going to areas hit hard by mill closures and shift curtailments, funds that were once pegged for rural projects and services are now reallocated.
“This is an insult to every single community hit hard by the forestry crisis. By depriving rural towns across the province of dividend funds the NDP are taking away their only real hope of growth and diversification,” added Tegart. “John Horgan and the NDP have let down and ignored our province’s 140 forestry-dependent communities. Even the over 250 logging trucks that rolled in to Vancouver last week seem to have failed to get the Premier’s attention. British Columbians deserve better.”
This year alone has seen 53 curtailments and shutdowns, including 10 permanent or indefinite closures. All without any concrete action from John Horgan and the NDP.