The government received a succession report when timber harvesting rights are transferred.

The province will also work with First Nations rights and title holders involved in forestry, and seek input from forestry sector unions and employers.

No decision has been made on the implementation of the report’s recommendations.

Succession rules provide stability for workers when selling, renting or transferring a business. The rules require the new employer to abide by the existing collective bargaining agreement so that workers’ jobs and negotiated benefits, as well as employers’ obligations, are preserved, despite the change in ownership. However, these same protections do not currently apply to situations where timber harvesting rights are transferred and there is no sale or transfer of business.

In November 2021, under the Labor Relations Code, the Department of Labor appointed an Industry Board of Inquiry (IIC), comprised of Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers, to examine ways to address estate protections for the forestry sector. The appointment of an IIC was recommended by the Labor Relations Code Review Panel in 2018 and was included in the Ministry of Forests’ Intent Document on Modernizing Forest Policy in British Columbia in 2021 .

The IIC report makes recommendations for extending union rights, or succession, when forest tenure is transferred from one entity to another and harvesting rights continue for a period of five years.

The report includes specific recommendations related to the transfer of harvesting rights to First Nations. The recommendations include possible changes to the Labor Relations Code, which would allow a First Nation to initiate negotiations with the union for changes to the collective agreement necessary to ensure that its terms are consistent with the principles set out in the Declaration of United Nations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (United Nations Declaration).

Decisions about whether, when and how to implement the IIC’s recommendations will be guided by engagements with potentially affected parties. First Nations rights and title holders who are involved in forestry, as well as forestry sector unions and employers can send their comments to: [email protected]

Fast facts:

  • Collective agreements in the forestry sector exist primarily in the coastal forest region, while forestry operations in the interior of British Columbia are mostly non-unionized.
  • The appointment of the IIC follows an independent review of the Labor Relations Code in 2018 which identified the need to review succession issues in the forestry sector.
  • The 2018 review panel heard concerns that the changing nature of the forestry sector meant that workers increasingly continued to work on the same land, often with the same equipment, but without their collective bargaining rights when harvesting rights are transferred.
  • Modernization of forest policy in British Columbia includes intentions to create future tenure opportunities and redistribute forest tenure and timber harvesting rights, encouraging diversification in the forest sector.

Learn more:

To read the IIC report and recommendations on succession in the forest industry, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/government/ministries-organizations/ministries/labour/iic_report_on_forest_industry_successorship_2022. pdf

To read the November 2021 news release on the creation of the IIC, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021LBR0033-002187

To read Modernizing Forest Policy in British Columbia: Setting the Intention and Leading the Forest Sector, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/modernforestpolicy

To learn more about timber harvesting rights in British Columbia, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/forestry/forest-tenures/timber-harvesting-rights?keyword= harvesting&keyword=rights

For more information on aligning laws with the UN Declaration, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/indigenous-people/new-relationship/united-nations- declaration-on-the-rights- of-indigenous-peoples/alignment-of-laws