Conservative Members of Parliament Cathy McLeod (Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo), Bob Zimmer (Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies), Todd Doherty (Cariboo-Prince George), Dan Albas (Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola) and Shannon Stubbs (Lakeland), sent a letter to the minister of Natural Resources and the minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development last week, calling on them to take action in support of British Columbia’s forestry sector.
The letter to Minister Amarjeet Sohi and Minister Navdeep Bains, sent July 22 and signed by all five MPs, reads:
“In recent weeks, the closure and curtailment of softwood lumber mills has devastated communities across the British Columbia interior. The job losses are staggering.
They will impact not just the employees and their families, but also countless people and businesses across the ridings we represent.
The Liberal government has shown a complete lack of respect for these rural communities as this crisis has unfolded.
Over six weeks ago, MP Cathy McLeod wrote to Minister Bains to request immediate assistance from his department, but there has been nothing but silence from the minister’s office. In that time, the situation has worsened, and your government appears to be oblivious to the needs of families in our region.
It is crystal clear to the forestry workers in B.C. that the Liberals’ Western Economic Diversification program is not working for them, and that Minister Bains appears to have no real understanding of the economic realities that are taking place in the B.C. interior.
This is what happens when regional economic development agencies that should be focused on the unique challenges of different regions across Canada are aggregated under a single minister from a major urban centre.
We ask that you take immediate steps to alleviate this crisis. In the short-term, employees and their communities require increased engagement on the part of the federal government, especially boots on the ground from Service Canada and the Department of Western Economic Diversification to guide people in accessing existing programs. More action can also be taken in the long-term to support the economic diversification of rural municipalities, like those in the ridings we represent.
Conservative MPs across the region take this issue seriously. We know that action must be taken immediately, and we call on this Liberal government to stop ignoring the needs of rural communities.”