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Fund helps forest sector with COVID-19 costs

Minister of Children and Family Development Katrine Conroy.
Forest Minister Katrine Conroy.

VICTORIA – The province is delivering relief to small- and medium-sized forestry businesses for the extra costs of operating through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our government worked with forest contractors to plant 300 million seedlings this year with no recorded COVID-19 transmissions,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, in a news release. “This $9.3-million fund will help forestry businesses keep their employees on staff, and their communities safe with the additional costs they’ve already faced related to COVID-19.

“It’s a credit to these companies that they were able to keep people safe while planting trees that will help keep B.C.’s forest sector sustainable and fight climate change.”

Amid the unprecedented conditions of COVID-19 and additional health and safety protocols issued by the provincial health officer in April 2020, a record number of trees were planted in 2020, with no recorded COVID-19 transmissions.

In September, the Government of Canada launched the $30-million Forest Sector Safety Measures Fund program to offset additional COVID-19 health and safety costs for small- and medium-sized forestry companies.

“Protecting workers in our forestry sector and ensuring the success of our tree planting season. We said we would be there for Canadians through COVID-19 and we are delivering,” said Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources.

B.C. expects about 175 companies to apply for its $9.3-million share of the fund, to cover costs of implementing COVID-19 health and safety measures between April 1 and Dec. 31, 2020. These costs include personal protective equipment, handwashing stations, extra vehicles and accommodations.

Eligible companies must have on average fewer than 500 employees across all offices in Canada with primary business activities in forestry and logging, support activities for forestry, wood product manufacturing, or pulp and paper manufacturing.

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