B.C. forests face worker shortage as demand for reforestation soars

Wages must go up in the next few years to retain workers

By Jon Hernandez
CBC News
October 27, 2018

Dave Robinson is no rookie tree planter. After a steady campaign planting nearly 300,000 trees across B.C., Alberta and Quebec this year, the veteran planter says he earned about $30,000 for 95 days of work. “I like working in the field, and I like generating wealth,” said Robinson when asked why he keeps returning to what’s often described as a gruelling job. But after five years in the industry, Robinson admits he’s had his highs and lows. Last year, he got into a labour dispute with an employer after his piece work wages worked out to be below B.C.’s minimum wage. “My gross pay was $355 for 55 hours of work,” he said, noting that he did eventually get paid the difference after working with labour regulators to resolve the dispute.  … In recent years, many tree planters in B.C. have reported earnings below minimum wage, despite the industry having a reputation of high earnings and hard work.

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