Ottawa doing nothing for forestry

By John Rafferty
My column this week will be short and to the point as there is much work to be done on the forestry file.
The forestry sector is being decimated in this country and the Harper government has done nothing to help the producers, our communities, and your families get through this crisis.
With the bankruptcy protection filing by AbitibiBowater last week, my priority will be, first and foremost, the protection of pensions for workers.
But I also will continue to try and get the federal government to intervene in the industry-wide crisis in order to help AbitibiBowater and others stay active and solvent until demand picks up again.
Large producers like AbitibiBowater, and smaller ones like Buchanan Forestry Products, are going bankrupt in our community, and nearly one million working families across Canada depend on forestry for their livelihood.
But the Conservative budget passed with hardly any money for forestry, without an elimination of the waiting period for Employment Insurance, and without making it easier to qualify for EI benefits. The Liberal party failed to ask for even a single change in the budget document—or to speak up for the forestry industry or for laid-off workers.
The sad reality is that the Conservative and Liberal parties do not care about the forestry sector, or about the communities and families that depend on it. If they did, they would have done something, anything, to help us in the last budget. They did not—and we are all suffering as a result.
I apologize if I sound upset, but I am. Hard-working people across our riding have lost their jobs while the government does nothing. I won’t stand for it.
If you have lost your job, are having problems accessing government benefits, or have some information to pass along regarding AbitibiBowater’s restructuring or other companies that are struggling, then please get in touch with my constituency office as soon as possible.
My staff and I remain ready to help in any way possible.

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