Chief Mike Wyse of the Snuneymuxw First Nation Chief Mike Wyse speaks with Doug Donaldson, minister of forests, lands and natural resource operation, on Thursday in Nanaimo. The meeting was part of coast forest sector revitalization consultation. GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

Job creation on the minds of politicians on Vancouver Island

Black Press Extreme Education and Career Fair to take place Feb. 7 in Comox

As provincial political parties lay out their visions for the coming years, they know it’s British Columbians who will be rolling up their sleeves and doing the work.

A byelection in Nanaimo has been a cause for campaigning and B.C.’s three main parties have different ideas about how to create and sustain good jobs on Vancouver Island.

The Island isn’t as forestry-dependent as it once was, but that industry remains a pillar of the economy for large segments. The NDP government’s recently revealed coast forest sector revitalization plan will have some regional impacts.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson recentyly spoke to Black Press Media about measures to ensure more B.C. processing of logs and fibre.

“The forest companies have to make a profit. But they’re making a profit off a publicly held resource and we want to make sure that the main beneficiaries of that publicly held resource are the public – the communities and the workers,” Donaldson said.

Premier John Horgan said ensuring “a strong economy on Vancouver Island” is one of the reasons his party wants to move away from allowing raw log exports.

RELATED: Vancouver Island career fair will help serve a job-seekers’ market

“We have seen mill after mill after mill shut down and our natural resources, in raw form, going offshore to create jobs somewhere else,” the premier said.

“We have an extraordinary opportunity in forestry. We’re going to work hard with the large companies, but also those small re-manufacturers.”

Tony Harris, the BC Liberals’ candidate in Nanaimo, said at a recent debate that investing in institutions such as the hospital, university and port authority creates jobs directly and indirectly.

“What happens is not only do you have good jobs in each of those pillars, but the spin-off jobs with tech … and then you’ve got sales jobs and support jobs and research jobs,” Harris said.

“So we need to talk about the big investments and look aspirationally towards where we’re going and then the private enterprise will come and support that public component of our community.”

Michele Ney, contender for the BC Green Party, suggested that discussion of job creation has to start with talking about spending on education, which she said is a “gold stock.”

“By investing in education, in science, innovation and technology, we can help support the young people transition into our new economy and they will be the leaders in that economy,” said Ney.

Jobs will remain front and centre next week as the Black Press Extreme Education and Career Fair takes place Thursday, Feb. 7, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., at 19 Wing/CFB Comox, Station Main, Lazo Road, Comox.

For more information about the event and the exhibitors, click here.

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