In the last year, the Pacific Northwest (BC, WA, OR) exported well more than $1 billion worth of raw softwood logs to China. Shipments for 2011 were more than in the preceding five years combined. Increased demand for logs might be great for the logging industry, but it results in closures and layoffs at sawmills and other wood processing facilities.
A few corporations do well harvesting logs in British Columbia but, without subsequent processing, many service and supply businesses that serve the industry are starving. We are not merely shipping logs to China; we are exporting jobs that ensured our own prosperity.
BC government policy once allowed only for export of logs surplus to local needs. They still make the claim but, from the time Gordon Campbell’s Liberals took power in 2001, raw log exports soared. Political and economic pressures prevent BC mills from interfering with overseas shipments. One of the province’s largest sawmill operators told a public meeting that he was pressured to NOT bid on logs slated for export even though his mills were critically short of fibre.
BC sends trade missions to China to sell more unprocessed logs while people in small communities all over the province witness the closure of sawmills and other wood manufacturers.
When the last BC mill closes, will we be able to afford finished lumber to build our homes? Actually, the plutocracy has an answer for that: “Home ownership is an unrealistic dream of today’s young people.”
BC Liberal Radio, during its early afternoon time-out for decent broadcasting, had a segment on this issue March 14. Of course, it was Simi Sara looking at the issue, without being an apologist for Premier Photo-Op and her colleagues. It’s a good interview, worth a listen at their audio vault.
1:05 – 1:15
RAW LOG EXPORTS COULD HURT BC’S ECONOMY
NDP leader Adrian Dix wants an explanation as to why raw logs from BC are being shipped overseas and processed instead of getting BC producers to process the wood. The biggest issue is the amount of jobs that BC residents are losing out on by shipping the logs overseas. And the reason the logs are being shipped there is because labour is cheaper in places like China than it is here. The United Steel Workers Union and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives agrees saying that the province needs to stop closing sawmills and other wood-processing plants. Why should the logs stay in BC? Are there any solutions to this hugely controversial issue?