FireSmart initiative to put loggers back to work while enhancing Alberta’s forests
eDMONTON, AlbertA June 5, 2009– Forestry workers in Alberta impacted by the current global economic downturn will receive support thanks to an investment by the Governments of Canada and Alberta.
The Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, and the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Labour, together with Ted Morton, Minister of Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, announced a federal-provincial investment of $30 million towards a program that will provide an immediate economic stimulus for Alberta communities while reducing their susceptibility to wildfire. The Government of Canada and Province of Alberta have each made an equal investment of $15 million.
“Today’s investment is about putting people back to work and helping our forestry communities during these challenging economic times,” said Minister of State Yelich. “By supporting local loggers, we are helping to ensure that we have the workforce in place to drive local economies after the forest industry recovers from the economic slowdown.”
“Funding will help expand Alberta’s FireSmart program by hiring unemployed or underemployed industry workers who are skilled in forestry,” said Morton. “By tapping into this pool of available expertise, we are protecting both the physical safety of people and the economic health of the towns and cities where they live.”
Funding will enable the Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta (FRIAA) to implement FireSmart initiatives that reduce the risk of wildfire and enhance forest health. Over a two-year period, the projects are expected to create a total of 3,000 seasonal, or 1,149 full-time one-year positions, in Alberta communities affected by the decrease in global demand for forest products.
“The global recession has severely affected many individuals and families across Canada, especially in communities that depend on single industries such as forestry,” said Minister Ambrose. “The Community Adjustment Fund will quickly inject new money into local economies, creating jobs and supporting economic renewal in the communities that are hardest hit.”
“FRIAA welcomes this opportunity to work with Alberta Sustainable Resource Development and Western Economic Diversification Canada on this important initiative directed to Alberta’s forest resources,” said Trevor Wakelin, FRIAA President. “This new funding commitment serves as a further demonstration of how industry and both levels of government can work together to accomplish mutual objectives of adding value to public forests and increasing employment opportunities within the province.”
Alberta’s FireSmart program is a proactive approach to reducing the risk of wildfire on property while supporting other forest management objectives, including habitat improvement, forest biodiversity and overall forest health.
Federal funding is being provided under the Community Adjustment Fund, a major job creating investment contained in the Government of Canada’s Economic Action Plan. Over the next two years, the Community Adjustment Fund will deliver a total of $1 billion to local economies throughout Canada, including more than $104 million over two years to support the most affected communities in Alberta.
For more information on the Community Adjustment Fund, please visit: www.wd-deo.gc.ca. To learn more about Canada’s Economic Action Plan, visit: www.actionplan.gc.ca.