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B.C. budget aimed at affordability and priorities of working British Columbians

February 23, 2024
BC Legislature

The United Steelworkers union (USW) commends the B.C. government for continuing to invest in health and mental health, housing, affordability and important infrastructure around the province.

“Our members, like all British Columbians, feel the impact of increasing costs of living amid a slowing global economy. The government has it right by continuing to direct spending toward the priorities of working families: health care, mental health services, child care, housing and new rebates to make life more affordable,” said Scott Lunny, USW Director for Western Canada. 

“We are pleased that there is ongoing capital investment in key infrastructure, which includes the use of mass timber in a number of projects. USW will continue to push for, among other things, domestic materials to be prioritized in all public projects,” said Lunny.

The USW is pleased to see continued funding ($24 million) announced last year to continue to move the made-in-B.C. critical minerals strategy forward and ensure appropriate resources for permitting of natural resource projects.

The union is also pleased to see movement on First Nations equity financing and loan guarantee programs so that there can be Indigenous ownership, not just involvement, in resource projects. Critical minerals and other mines in B.C. provide good-paying jobs, stability and security that is much-needed in resource-dependent communities.

However, the USW remains concerned about the deepening crisis in the forest sector, noting the 2023-24 decline in exports (-13.1%), in particular overall manufacturing (-6.7%) and a major decline in softwood lumber exports (-39.9%). Predictions show flat harvest levels, at 32 million m3, through 2026/27.

“There is urgency to stabilize the primary forest sector, provide predictability and securing of fibre supply. Then First Nations, government, industry and labour need to get to work building the sector back,” said Lunny. 

“We can’t talk about new, higher value, secondary and tertiary manufacturing jobs and more jobs per cubic metre, without a strong, stable primary industry. When we lose jobs in resource-dependent communities, we lose capacity to move toward a strong, sustainable forest sector,” added Lunny. 

USW continues to call for a clear, forward-looking industrial strategy for B.C.’s forest sector, connecting the current workforce to a thriving, sustainable industry in the future.

USW represents 30,000 workers in British Columbia, including over 15,000 in the forest and mining sector, and thousands in telecommunications, manufacturing, retail and the service sector. USW is the largest private-sector union in North America, with 850,000 members in Canada, the U.S. and Caribbean.

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Media Contact

Scott Lunny
USW Director for Western Canada
604-329-5308
slunny@usw.ca

Brett Barden
USW Communications
604-445-6956
bbarden@usw.ca

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