Northern BC MLA John Rustad says it’s disturbing to see the recent sawmill reductions taking place in Quesnel and Fort Saint James.

Conifex announced a 15% cut back on lumber production starting November 26th followed by another curtailment on Christmas while the West Fraser outlet will cut a shift impacting 75 workers during the first half of 2019.

The enforced downtime from these companies is even more troubling even after a reduction in prices.

“When you look at prices at three hundred and fifty-six dollars US, we get a lot more than that for Canadian so that really makes you wonder why this downtime is required when these same companies are not taking downtime south of the border. There is something wrong with the current situation in British Columbia,” said Rustad.

BC’s forestry sector has been anything but a priority for John Horgan’s NDP government according to Rustad who teed off on the production reductions in the Nechako Valley and the Cariboo.

He believes at the end of the day, it all comes down to cost.

“British Columbia needs to take a solid look at our cost structure so that we’re competitive, we need to do some strategic investments and we need to be able to find ways to make sure the forest industry is healthy. One hundred and forty thousand people depend on directly working in our forest industry.”

The Nechako Lakes MLA believes there are several factors at play as to why the industry is struggling.

“The softwood lumber tariffs are certainly hurting some companies bottom line and the fact that our log supply prices are more than double what it is in the United States. We have become a high-cost producer and quite frankly, the government needs to be looking at the challenges our forest industry is facing and taking measures.”

“We had a promise that this would be a priority for this current government and they have done nothing to make on the agenda of the Canadian government in there discussions with the US and when we saw that NAFTA was renegotiated we saw other files that were not part of NAFTA being talked about at the table and we didn’t see softwood lumber and that’s disappointing given that British Columbia is more than fifty percent of the exports.”

Prince George-Cariboo MP Todd Doherty also responded to the recent production cuts.

My Prince George Now will be publishing his comments on Sunday.