EDITORIAL: Does the cost of labour price us out of some markets?

Local Green Party candidate Glenn Sollitt not happy with the amount of raw logs we ship off Vancouver Island

Glenn Sollitt and the federal Green Party have got this one right. Almost.

Sollitt, the Green Party candidate for the Courtenay-Alberni riding, sent us a letter to the editor last week, extolling the value of Vancouver Island sawmills. More accurately, Sollitt was railing against raw-log exports.

Our sister paper, the Alberni Valley Times, had a front-page story by Eric Plummer last week that revealed the fact that 480,000 cubic metres of raw logs were exported to overseas sawmills from Port Alberni last year.

In 2014, Plummer reported, the Port Alberni Port Authority said 53 vessels loaded with raw logs left the city, while just 13 ships carried lumber oversees.

Undoubtedly, those raw logs come back to us in the form of manufactured goods. The countries that buy those logs are the ones that get the benefit of the jobs. We get to buy expensive kitchen tables made somewhere else.

On the surface it looks like bad business, plain and simple.

When will Canada stop being the drawers of water and hewers of wood for the world?

We believe Vancouver Island companies would do more with our resources if there was a profit to be had. We cannot expect companies to lose money or break even just for the sake of some principal. Profit is not a dirty word.

So, why are we shipping so many raw logs? Our guess is we have priced ourselves out of the market. We cannot compete with companies in other countries that pay their workers much less than what is expected here. To make a chair out of that raw log, it may cost $100 here, $10 in some foreign country.

The decision to ship raw logs rather than manufacturing products here is not about corporate greed. It’s fairly simple math.

Candidates from the Green Party or the NDP may say they are against raw-log exports, but they are loathe to face the real issue, the elephant in the room: the high cost of labour in this country. Weeks of holidays, benefits, $20/hour or more, 7.5/hour shifts — this is why we have to ship raw logs overseas.

These wages and benefits, etc. are the result of hard-fought battles over the years and those jobs continue to contribute to the relatively high quality of life we enjoy in this country. But they also eliminate us from participation in some sectors.

— Editorial by John Harding

Just Posted

SD69 students hope to send artwork to space

The winning patches will accompany an experiment designed by five students from Ballenas

Review: Show about the show delights at Qualicum Beach premiere

A combination of hilarity and tender moments for Second Chances musical

Concern over vaping grows in Parksville Qualicum Beach schools

Health officer says parents have ample reason to be concerned

Coombs Family Day Celebration cancelled

The large snowfall that hit Vancouver Island recently has led to the… Continue reading

VIDEO: The Art of Surfboard Making

Hand-made, handpainted surfboard by Parksville couple

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Wilson-Raybould resignation stokes anger, frustration within veterans community

Liberals have had three veterans-affairs ministers — Kent Hehr, Seamus O’Regan and Wilson-Raybould

Most Read