Roughly 300 people in the Clearwater area and close by Interior communities have taken advantage of the community-based job placement co-ordination offices and the web portal that allows access to forest worker support programs online since they’ve opened.
Terry Tate, coordinator liaison for the forest worker supports programs, said though it took a while to get the program off the ground, he believes it’s working well.
He noted the most popular jobs displaced forestry workers seem to sign up for are camp jobs, because they allow the worker to remain in the community, even though the jobs might be scattered across the province.
“A lot of the people we’ve identified have put forward they’d be willing to do a camp job because they don’t want to leave the community, or can’t leave, so for those ones there, it’s really just trying to get them set up with the major projects that are out there and some of the contractors that are facilitating those projects,” Tate said.
“It’s a challenging time for a lot of people — I’d say 70 per cent of the people who’ve responded said they’d work a camp job, 14 (days) in and seven (days) out.”
The program works by having forestry workers who’ve been laid off do an interview to find out what they’re looking for. If it’s additional training certification then the placement offices will steer the worker in the right direction to find the proper program facility.
If it’s a specific job, said Tate, then the those helping out with the program will check contacts from employers throughout B.C. looking for workers and match those who meet the respective criteria.
“We have some people that have gone to work for Site C for example, others are working on the pipeline, some of the trades people have gone to the contractors working on LNG,” he said.
“Our big focus is to match employers with people who are looking for work and if they require additional skills or certifications, then we’re going to make sure they get that so they’re more attractive to these employers who are looking for employees.”
Another aspect of the program includes pension bridging for those who might be eligible for retirement and Tate added they’ve received about 800 applications from people who have chosen to take this route. The added benefit of the pension bridging program, he said, is when people retire it opens up potential opportunities for those continuing to work.
The community-based job placement co-ordination offices are scheduled to remain open for two years, but that timeline may be adjusted as needed.
For general inquiries about the program, forestry workers can call 1 844 778-2200 (toll-free). Hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, excluding statutory holidays. Clearwater’s office is located at 687 on Highway 5. For online information visit https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/forestry