A program aimed at helping forestry workers in B.C. transition to retirement over the past two years is coming to a close.
The Bridging to Retirement program was launched by the provincial government in 2019 in response to widespread mill closures and layoffs in the forestry sector and has provided financial assistance to more than 1,000 forestry workers entering retirement, according to a Ministry of Labour news release.
In the 100 Mile House area, 51 workers successfully applied for the assistance, totalling $2.71 million in funding for voluntary retirements. Each worker was eligible for up to $75,000 each.
“When needs arose in the Interior forest sector, we took action to help displaced workers impacted by mill closures and curtailments,” ministry spokesperson Joanne McGachie told the Free Press. “All eligible impacted workers received funding through this program.”
In total, $69 million has been spent to help forestry workers in the Interior and Coastal regions for early retirement, retraining, job matching, and community support and resiliency programs.
In addition to the retirement program, 100 Mile House was one of five communities selected to house a job placement office specific to displaced forestry workers, offering assistance with government programs and services.
“Since it opened in November 2019, the placement office has undertaken outreach to hundreds of forestry workers in 100 Mile House and the broader catchment area, connecting them with new training, employment opportunities and other support services,” McGachie said.
The job placement office in 100 Mile – as well as locations in Clearwater, Mackenzie, Fort St. James and Fort St. John – will remain open through to March 2022, McGachie confirmed.