By: The Working Forest Staff
Toronto — The Ontario government is investing $5.3 million, provided through the federal Forest Sector Safety Measures Fund, to help small and medium sized forest sector businesses offset the cost of COVID-19 safety measures. The funding will be used for initiatives such as setting up sanitizing stations, providing enhanced cleaning, additional worker training, measures to increase physical distancing and to purchase personal protective equipment.
“Our government is committed to the ongoing economic recovery and growth of the forestry industry,” said John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “This funding will help businesses within this crucial sector overcome the economic challenges they face, ensuring they can continue to keep their doors open, while protecting workers and the communities where they live.”
“Protecting workers in our forest sector was one of the federal government’s early commitments during the pandemic. We said we would be there for Canadians through COVID-19 and we are delivering,” said the Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources.
“We know Ontario’s small-and-medium-sized forestry businesses are dedicated to keeping their employees safe while remaining operational during these challenging times, and our government is proud to support these efforts. Our forestry industry is a vital contributor to our province’s economy, and we are committed to helping it weather this unprecedented storm,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade.
“Small-and medium-sized forestry businesses are making extraordinary sacrifices to keep their employees safe during these tough times. Small businesses are the foundation of our communities and the backbone of our economy. Our government is committed to protecting these businesses that are the source of our livelihoods,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction.
Both levels of government deemed the forestry industry an essential sector due to its vital role in supplying essential forest products for hygiene, medical supplies, food packaging and shipping materials.
Providing a financial investment through the Forest Sector Safety Measures Fund further supports the province’s Sustainable Growth: Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy. Ontario’s strategy will create jobs and encourage economic growth in the forestry industry, supporting the Indigenous, northern and rural communities that depend on the sector. It will also ensure the province’s forests are managed sustainably for generations to come.
For information on program eligibility and timelines, please visit ontario.ca/forestsafetyfund
- On July 10, 2020, the federal government announced the Forest Sector Safety Measures Fund, which is providing up to $30 million to offset costs of COVID-19 health and safety measures for small and medium businesses in the forest sector.
- Ontario has more than 1,900 small and medium-sized businesses in the forest sector, directly employing close to 35,000 people.
- Earlier this year, the province provided immediate COVID-19 relief measures to the forestry industry, including deferring stumpage revenue collection for six months, making $3.5 million available to protect tree plant workers, expediting the forestry roads funding program, and revising the forest manuals and independent forest audits to modernize and streamline requirements and provide time savings for businesses.
- The forest sector generates over $18 billion in revenue and supports approximately 147,000 direct and indirect jobs across Ontario.