The StrongerBC Economic Plan is delivering support for people in rural British Columbia through a new fund that will diversify local economies, promote value-added innovation in the forestry sector and create thousands of good-paying jobs for British Columbians.
“We need to get more good-paying jobs from our forests and every resource in our province,” said Premier David Eby. “The investments we are making in rural B.C. will help do that by supporting companies to get into the business of creating value-added products, like mass timber. Our whole province benefits when local workers and their families can build good lives in the rural communities they call home.”
The Government of B.C. will invest as much as $90 million over three years through the new BC Manufacturing Jobs Fund. The fund will support high-value industrial and manufacturing projects to drive clean and inclusive growth in rural, remote and Indigenous communities.
“In B.C., our economic advantage is our people,” said Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation. “As our natural resource sector transitions, our government is investing in local economies to provide new opportunities that will create jobs and ensure long-lasting prosperity for people throughout our province.”
The fund will support established for-profit organizations to plan and launch shovel-ready projects that bring direct benefits and stable, family-supporting jobs to regional and Indigenous communities.
For example, the BC Manufacturing Jobs Fund may provide funding to a forestry company that needs to buy new equipment to support new product lines, such as mass timber production or paper packaging, or smaller-diameter tree processing and manufacturing, or a company that wants to build or expand a plastics-alternative manufacturing facility in a rural community.
“Forestry is a foundation of B.C.’s economy,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “By driving innovation across the sector, we can ensure more value-added wood products are made in B.C. and create more jobs for every tree harvested. Now is the time to work together to build a stronger, more resilient forestry industry that better works for people and communities.”
The BC Manufacturing Jobs Fund will focus on areas experiencing economic impacts from changes in the forestry sector.
The new fund is part of the Forest Worker Community Support initiatives and the StrongerBC Economic Plan’s work to build resilient communities. The fund is in addition to the $185-million support package announced in Budget 2022 to ensure that co-ordinated and comprehensive supports are in place to offset any economic impacts from a changing forestry industry.
Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development –
“Innovation in manufacturing and the value-added processing sector across rural B.C. has a huge impact on our province’s clean and sustainable economy. This program helps support expansion of innovation and builds resilient in our high-value resource sector both for now and for generations to come. Having a program specific to rural applicants helps ensure that local values are guiding how these communities diversify and transition their economies.”
Doug Routley, Parliamentary Secretary for Forests, and chair of the Forestry Worker Supports and Community Resiliency Council –
“People in rural and regional communities have built the B.C. we know and love today, in large part through their work in our forests. We need to move past the boom-and-bust cycles of the past that left workers and communities behind, and work with them to develop more innovative, value-added and resilient economies.”
Bob Simpson, member, Forestry Worker Supports and Community Resiliency Council –
“At this critical juncture for B.C.’s forest sector, it is vitally important that financial capital is readily available to support innovation. The Premier’s announcement of direct funding for manufacturers will support all of our efforts to obtain more value from B.C.’s timber supply. This new fund also has the potential to help the provincial government achieve its climate goals as it will assist innovators in the forest sector to find ways to broaden and diversify the range of forest products produced in British Columbia.”
Joel McKay, CEO, Northern Development Initiative Trust –
“The announcement of a $90-million investment could not come at a better time with the recent notice of the permanent closure of the Canfor pulp line. We applaud the Province and its recognition of the unique challenges our rural and remote communities face, but also the opportunities for growth and diversification.”
Linda Coady, president and CEO, Council of Forest Industries –
“Today’s funding announcement is one step in the broader suite of actions required to maximize the role a strong, sustainable forest industry can play in delivering for people and the planet. We look forward to partnering with government, Indigenous organizations, communities, labour and others to collectively tackle the big ideas needed to deliver on the generational opportunity sustainable forestry and renewable products represent.”
Joe Nemeth, manager, B.C. Pulp and Paper Coalition –
“This new program will enable future strategic investments by the pulp and paper sector. This works well with government’s new initiatives to increase fibre supply for the pulp sector by expanding wildfire salvage opportunities, reducing slash burning and doing more to ensure waste is removed from the bush. Investing in innovation for current operations is an important step in diversifying our sector.”
Paul Rasmussen, president, Interior Lumber Manufacturers’ Association –
“We welcome this announcement and look forward to the positive benefits for our region. Many of our members have already made investments in their value-added wood product facilities in B.C. and could use this opportunity to innovate further. To continue providing good jobs in B.C. communities, value-added facilities require secure, long-term access to wood fibre. We will continue to work with government to implement improvements that will meet those needs.”
To learn more about the BC Manufacturing Jobs Fund, visit: gov.bc.ca/ManufacturingJobsFund
To learn more about the Forest Worker Community Support programs, visit; https://forestryworkersupport.gov.bc.ca/
To learn more about the StrongerBC Economic Plan, visit: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/plan
A backgrounder follows.