BC Forest Industry Calls for Urgent Action on Fiber Supply Crisis

Linda Coady, President & CEO of the BC Council of Forest Industries (COFI)

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The BC Council of Forest Industries (COFI) is urging the provincial government to take immediate steps to address a declining fiber supply, which has led to a series of mill closures and curtailments across the province.

In a statement released today, COFI President and CEO Linda Coady expressed concern about the significant economic and social impacts of these closures. Lost jobs, reduced tax revenue, and uncertainty for rural communities are just some of the consequences highlighted by COFI.

"Each time a mill closes in BC, there is a substantial impact on employees, families, and entire communities," Coady stated. "The loss of high-paying jobs and local tax revenue has lasting effects, particularly in rural areas."

COFI acknowledges the appointment of a Minister of State for Sustainable Forestry Innovation but emphasizes the need for faster action. They are calling for additional measures within the next 60 days to address challenges in permitting systems and land-use policies that are contributing to the decline in fiber access.

The forestry industry is a significant economic driver in British Columbia, contributing to manufacturing productivity, government revenue, and exports. However, COFI emphasizes a strong correlation between job numbers and fiber supply. The industry relies on a steady stream of usable wood to create jobs and produce low-carbon products.

COFI's statement points to a dramatic drop in actual fiber harvest levels, falling from 60 million cubic meters in 2018 to 35 million in 2023. This represents a 42% shortfall compared to the allowable annual cut for that year. These declines have resulted in the loss of 10,000 jobs (direct, indirect, and induced) in 2023 alone.

With recent discussions amongst industry stakeholders, First Nations, labour groups, and the provincial government, COFI urges further collaboration to find solutions for stabilizing the fiber supply in both the short and long term. They emphasize the need for additional steps to rebuild investor confidence and ensure the long-term viability of this foundational industry in British Columbia.