—- By Kenneth Wong
The B.C. government unveils pilot program for training workers to mitigate wildfires.
The program will train workers in the silviculture sector to better prepare and prevent wildfires.
The provincial government has partnered with Western Forestry Contractors’ Association to ensure workers are equipped with the skills required for fire prevention, climate change awareness, training with forestry tools, and to increase Indigenous cultural knowledge in regards to our relationship with the land and role in its ecosystem.
“As forestry workers are involved in restoring landscapes across the province, I think it is particularly important to be aware of the culture and history of the Indigenous people whose traditional territories we are fortunate to be working,” said Sylvia Fenwick-Wilson, a supervisor at Zanzibar Holdings.
In a press release, John Betts, the executive director of Western Forestry Contractors’ Association said “the silviculture labour-force strategy will ensure that B.C.’s silviculture sector continues to grow and diversify its workforce, while learning new skills necessary to restore our forests and mitigate the effects of climate change on our landscapes.”
The pilot program is receiving $900,000 of funding from the 2022-23 Canada-British Columbia Workforce Development Agreement (WDA) which provides opportunities for workers and employers to find the people they need to drive the province’s economic growth.
The Government of Canada invests approximately $450 million annually in training and employment support for B.C. via the Canada-B.C. Labour Market Development Agreement and Canada-B.C. WDA which supports approximately 70,000 British Columbians every year.
“The forestry sector is a cornerstone of B.C.’s economy and the hardworking people who make up this industry are its lifeblood,” said B.C. Minister of Forests Bruce Ralston, “The training opportunities that come from this new partnership will give forestry workers the skills they need to stay safe while protecting the vitality of our forests in the face of wildfires.”