There’s little doubt that the downward economic spiral we’ve been seeing worldwide is impacting our communities. We’ve learned that Myra Falls mine is due to close by the end of the year. This on top of the closures at the Catalyst mill and the ongoing crisis in our forest industry.
I’ve met with both management and the union at Myra Falls to talk about the closure and what we can do to alleviate it. I’ve also spoken with the Minister of State for Mining and will be meeting with the Minister of Community Development to try to find ways the government can step in to support the industry and support the workers.
Closure is never good news and the impact will be felt in the miner’s home. It will be felt throughout our community as another group of workers and their families find they don’t have the money to spend locally.
And all this on top of the closure of Timberwest’s sawmill and the cuts coming at Catalyst.
But I believe that our communities are strong and resilient, that we must and can find ways of ensuring that our resource industries are maintained. The economic downturn could be turned into a time of positive change, where an economy suited to meet the challenges of global warming evolves, where local production and local control become accepted ways of doing business.
It also could be a time for investment: investment in social housing for the many hundreds who are homeless in the North Island; investment in expanding transit in our rural communities; investment in providing high quality affordable child care for all families who need and want it. In other words, investments that make our communities stronger while, at the same time, creating local jobs.
None of this will be possible without commitment from provincial government, from communities and from the hard working people of the North Island. It is not an overnight answer. No-one is waving a magic wand to get the jobs back in the mills or in the woods. But working together we can develop ways that people can get back to work.
One step towards this will be when the Legislature resumes in a couple of weeks. The Campbell government had tried to cancel the fall session but the financial crisis has prompted a recall of all MLAs for just one week. It is a sign of the arrogance of the Campbell Liberals that they think that a one week sitting will suffice when people around the province are concerned about their future.
I am going to be telling the Legislature about the concerns of our miners, our forest workers, our health care workers, of First Nations, of teachers and child care workers, of people in ferry dependent communities, of the homeless and the marginalized.
We have not had the opportunity to raise these issues that are so important to our communities in the Legislature since May and it’s going to be an opportunity to have the voices of the North Island heard.
I am always happy to hear your concerns and thoughts. I can be reached by email at claire.trevena.mlaleg.bc.ca or by phone at 250 287 5100 (Campbell River) or 250 956 0028 (Port McNeill) or 1 866 387 5100.
You can also reasd news releases, flyers and other information at www.clairetrevena.ca