The BC Council of Forest Industries (COFI) is kicking off its conference in Vancouver today where a new economic study shows significant economic and employment activity within the sector.

Forestry jobs account for over 20% of all jobs in the Cariboo and Nechako regions of the province.

However, the industry has been met with some challenges due to curtailments from several facilities due to trade tariffs being issued by the United States.

President of the BC Council of Forest Industries Susan Yurkovich says they’re expecting a change of heart from the provincial government when John Horgan speaks on Friday.

“I do think there is a recognition that this is a very important industry and we have lots of work to do, no question, but we have to do it collectively with communities, the provincial government, the federal government and of course, the industry has a huge role to play.”

Yurkovich states the issues plaguing the issue right now is a multi-dimensional problem.

“Part of it is market and part of it is tariffs and the other one is around fibre availability and we are still feeling the impacts of the devastating Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic as well as the difficult wildfire seasons, so fibre is a big piece of that.”

“Certainly we are facing some trade protectionism around the world and in the US who is the largest customer of our products and we have litigation underway as both panel hearings will be underway at the World Trade Organization and also with NAFTA.”

A recent study also found over 5,300 Indigenous workers are directly employed by the forestry sector, making up 9% of the workforce.

“As we move forward, we have an industry that like a lot of resource sectors has an aging demographic so we’re looking to attract more people to our sector including young people. Folks in Indigenous communities around the province in many cases are closely located to where we have operations.”