VICTORIA — Forestry businesses are getting a helping hand from the province to weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
B.C. officials announced they will give relief to small- and medium-sized forestry businesses for the extra costs incurred by following provincial health guidelines while 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, in a 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.”
Officials noted despite the unprecedented challenges placed on the forestry sector, contractors still managed to plant record numbers of trees with zero reported cases of the virus.
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.
The province anticipates roughly 175 companies will try to access the $9.3-million share of the funds 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.
To get funding, companies must have under 500 employees and primarily conduct work in forestry, logging or wood product manufacturing.