Ontario Protecting Forestry Jobs & Worker Safety During COVID-19
The Ontario government is protecting people and jobs in northern, rural and Indigenous communities, while supporting long-term forest sustainability, by investing in protective measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 during the upcoming tree planting season.
Today, John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, announced the government is making $3.5 million available to help put protective measures in place for the workers who plant trees this season.
“We are safeguarding the workers who regenerate our forests and the communities where they work during the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Minister Yakabuski. “This will help the industry expand existing facilities and modify operations to ensure that those helping to renew Ontario’s forests can work in a safe environment. With these measures, we are also securing the planting of 70 million trees this year in Ontario’s forests.”
Funds will be used for larger camp facilities and additional kitchens to provide more space, as well as extra personal protective equipment, plastic partitions for transporting workers and more wash stations.
Ontario’s forest industry is critical to the provincial economy, generating over $18 billion in revenue and supporting approximately 155,000 direct and indirect jobs. The vital role this industry plays is especially evident during the COVID-19 outbreak, as it provides essential forest products for hygiene, food and medical supplies, as well as packaging and shipping products.
Minister Yakabuski has launched virtual consultations with leaders from the forestry sector to discuss their interests and concerns as Ontario prepares to reopen the economy during the COVID-19 outbreak, within guidelines from the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Ideas from this virtual consultation will be reported into the government’s new Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee. The Committee will take in this feedback to identify how best to protect and support people and jobs, restart the economy and move towards recovery across Ontario.
“The government’s number one priority remains the health and well-being of the people of Ontario, even as we restart the economy and drive subsequent recovery,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance and Chair of the Committee. “People across Ontario need to know they can count on their elected officials as we move forward. That’s why we’re working with all partners and doing everything we can to understand what’s needed to continue to protect and support people and our economy in the coming weeks, months and years.”
These consultations reflect a Team Ontario approach, working across parties and with experts, local leaders and people across Ontario.
“It is so important to hear directly from forestry stakeholders on the economic impact of COVID-19 and listen to their needs and priorities,” said Minister Yakabuski. “By working together with our partners in the forest sector, we can support a careful, stage-by-stage approach to loosening emergency measures and reopening Ontario’s economy.”