COLUMNS: Investing in jobs

In B.C. over 140 rural communities depend on the natural resource sector for jobs and economic opportunities.

In B.C. over 140 rural communities depend on the natural resource sector for jobs and economic opportunities, and our community is no different.

I understand how important the forestry sector is for the province, and how significant it is for our local economy. In 2016, B.C.’s forest sector provided 60,000 direct jobs. Here at home, local forestry companies are major providers of good quality jobs to many people in our community.

That’s why our government is vigorously supporting this sector with $150 million for the Forest Enhancement Society of British Columbia to plant tens of millions more trees, which will help fight climate change and create over 3,000 jobs in rural British Columbia. Since 2005, we’ve invested over $445 million in reforestation through Forests for Tomorrow, which has led to nearly 35,000,000 trees planted.

We are also protecting the future of the forest sector by establishing a Special Envoy to the United States on softwood lumber that has been reinforcing that a stable, predictable lumber supply is good for workers and the economy on both sides of the border.

Agriculture is also a vitally important sector for our regional economy, and our recent balanced budget and Rural Economic Development strategy are making key investments to secure future economic growth for agriculture in B.C.

To achieve that, we’re providing $10 million to support new land-management initiatives, including range-fencing repairs and invasive-plant management. An additional $4-million over two years will be invested in the Provincial Livestock Fencing Program to help keep livestock safe and businesses thriving. We also introduced rebates up to $3,500 through a new Livestock Tag Reader Rebate Program so small Ranchers in the Cariboo can purchase equipment to enhance food safety and food traceability protocols.

With these targeted investments in forestry and agriculture, our government is securing a strong economy and secure tomorrow for all of those working and living in our community.

Coralee Oakes is the MLA for Cariboo North and Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction.