Skilled, proud and recognized forest workers, high-performing
forest management companies
Québec, December 14, 2004
– The vitality and sustainability of managed forests
depend, for the most part, on the interest and the well-being
of those who work in them. During its work, the Commission
was especially concerned about the lot of forest workers,
be it for their difficult working conditions, including wages
and the low regard for their trades, or the precarious situation
of the companies that hire them.
Commission member Jules Arsenault believes
that when it comes to the forest sector, “real change
will occur when working conditions improve, whether it be
for the forest worker or the forest engineer. It is worse
than a film by Richard Desjardins when workers claim they
would not encourage their sons or daughters to take a job
in the forest.”
Despite efforts to improve the situation
in recent years, through various initiatives, things remain
shaky. The Commission believes that it is important to continue
and increase measures not only to attract and hold on to workers,
but also to create the conditions that will enable forest
management companies to develop over the long term. Measures
must be taken to ensure that these working conditions reflect
the importance Québec society places on its forests.
The Commission also thinks that Native people
have a key role to play when it comes to this labour market.
For their part, the First Nations have said that their young
people have a keen interest in finding jobs in trades related
to their natural living environment – the forest. As
a result, the Commission recommends that training and job
creation programs be expanded to foster the development of
Native silvicultural workers and that Native forest companies
be invited to actively participate in intensive silvicultural
projects and inhabited forest projects.
As for forestry workers overall, the Commission’s
recommendations aim at improving joint working relationships,
especially for those at the bottom of the sub-contracting
ladder, improving occupational health and safety, developing
skills through in-house training and raising quality standards
in all forest management companies.
More specifically, the Commission believes
that the Labour Code’s definition of the term
“logging operation” must be broadened to include
commercial work, such as wood harvesting, and non-commercial
work, such as pre-harvesting preparatory activities and silvicultural
work related to forest regeneration. The Commission also recommends
maintaining the “presumption method” used to identify
the entity formally responsible for management activities
and which is deemed to be the employer of all the salaried
workers in its operation.
The Commission also believes that forest
management companies must be accredited to carry out work
in public forests. This accreditation would be a mandatory
prerequisite for work done in all forest management units.
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