Message from the Minister and
As Minister of Forests and Range and Minister Responsible for Housing, I am looking forward to continuing the significant progress made over the past year on forestry and housing issues.
My first priority as Forests and Range Minister in the year ahead is to continue to lead the government response to the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic. We are working with First Nations and impacted communities and the federal government to update the Province’s Mountain Pine Beetle Action Plan. This plan outlines our approach to deal with the infestation’s economic, social and environmental impacts; and as part of that plan we will continue to address the long-term economic development and diversification needs of First Nations and communities.
In pursuit of a resolution to the softwood lumber dispute, we’ll continue our two-track strategy of negotiation and litigation in partnership with the federal government and other provinces. We will also continue to support both the Coast and Interior forest industries by providing a competitive regulatory framework. And we will continue to develop and expand foreign markets through innovative initiatives like ‘Dream Home China.’
By continuing to reallocate timber we will provide opportunities for communities, First Nations and smaller operators, allowing us to diversify the industry and encourage new participants in the forest economy. A renewed emphasis will be placed on the health, restoration and management of rangelands throughout the Province.
Encompassed in all forestry initiatives and in ongoing work is our commitment to make the forest sector a safer place to work. We will continue to work with the BC Forest Safety Council, the Ministry of Labour and Citizens’ Services, Worksafe BC and all forest sector stakeholders to introduce a new culture of safety.
In the September 2005 Budget Update, we improved support for seniors by approximately doubling the annual funding for the SAFER program (Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters) and improving subsidies for lower income seniors who rent. The changes apply to approximately 12,000 seniors already receiving benefits and open the program to an estimated 7,200 additional seniors.
As Housing Minister, I’m looking forward to building on that success with the release of a comprehensive provincial housing strategy that offers new approaches to the issues relating to homelessness and affordable housing. The strategy will address the housing continuum from homelessness to home ownership.
As well, we’ll begin modernizing the building safety regulatory system in B.C. to ensure an effective system for achieving safety in the design, construction and occupancy of buildings. We’ll also work to improve homeowner and landlord and tenant protection through amending legislation.
The Ministry of Forests and Range and Minister Responsible for Housing 2006/07–2008/09 Service Plan was prepared under my direction in accordance with the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act. I am accountable for the basis on which the plan has been prepared. All material fiscal assumptions and policy decisions as of February 8, 2006 have been considered in preparing the plan and I am accountable for achieving the specific objectives in the plan.
Honourable Rich Coleman
Minister of Forests and Range and
Minister Responsible for Housing
February 8, 2006