Ottawa, B.C. team up to train workers to prevent, mitigate wildfires

Forestry workers, tree planters, staff at nurseries will 'get the training they need'

Ottawa, B.C. team up to train workers to prevent, mitigate wildfires

The federal and British Columbia governments are teaming up to arm silviculture sector workers in the province with the skills they need to prevent and mitigate wildfires.

These workers include forestry workers, tree planters and staff at nurseries.

In partnership with the Western Forestry Contractors’ Association, the two governments are launching a two-year pilot project that will ensure workers around the province are trained to understand risks and mitigations. Through the program, they will also have the skills required for best fire safety practices in B.C.’s forests.

“Climate change is real, and every Canadian has felt the effect of it last summer with the heatwaves and the wildfires that happened nationwide,” said Randy Boissonnault, federal minister of employment, workforce development and official languages. “This is why the Government of Canada is working in partnership with the Government of British Columbia to improve the training, recruitment, and protection of silviculture workers. This investment is important for the safety of Canadians and the future of our forest sector.”

“Through this new pilot project and partnership, more silviculture workers will get the training they need to perform their vital work in B.C.’s forests,” said Selina Robinson, B.C.’s minister of post-secondary education and future skills. “This training will help keep these workers safe and also mitigate and prevent wildfires across the province.”

The two governments are also setting aside $900,000 from the 2022-23 Canada-British Columbia Workforce Development Agreement (WDA) for new training in fire prevention, climate change awareness and hands-on training with forestry tools.

The project also includes a new training course for silviculture workers and managers that will increase Indigenous cultural knowledge and contribute to a more diverse and inclusive silviculture workforce in B.C.

The project will also include the development of new career-path material for job seekers, recruitment and retention materials to support small and medium-sized employers and a sector job board hosted by the Western Forestry Contractors’ Association website.

“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,” said John Betts, executive director, Western Forestry Contractors’ Association.

Each year, Ottawa provides approximately more than $450 million for training and employment supports to British Columbians through the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Development Agreement and the Canada-British Columbia WDA. The funding supports approximately 70,000 British Columbians annually, according to the B.C. government.