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Labour pleased with NDP job promises

As British Columbia’s unemployment rate climbs higher, labour representatives are optimistic about the job creation promises in the B.C. New Democratic Party’s platform released last week.

“At a very basic level I saw a commitment to create jobs in British Columbia, which are desperately needed,” said Jim Sinclair, president of the B.C. Federation of Labour.

The NDP released the platform the same day Statistics Canada announced B.C.’s official unemployment rate rose to 7.4 per cent after shedding 23,000 jobs in March, the largest loss in the country.

“It was shocking to see the numbers in British Columbia,” said NDP leader Carole James at Thursday’s press conference in Burnaby.

“When you’re talking about those kinds of job-loss numbers it’s very clear that Gordon Campbell’s plan isn’t working,” she said.

The NDP’s combined plan of infrastructure stimulus spending and industry investments in forestry, mining, agriculture, tourism and the arts will create the jobs B.C. workers need, James said.

Leading these commitments is a promise to restrict raw log exports and provide targeted investment for the beleaguered forestry sector.

“We know a lot of our jobs losses are coming from the forest industry,” James said. “Investments in reforestation and silviculture…will actually get people working in rural communities.”

Other industry-specific promises in the NDP platform include:

Organize permitting and regulatory processes to provide certainty to stakeholders in mining

Establish strong Buy BC and food security programs

Support community agriculture, co-ops and farm organizations

Increase tourism marketing programs across the province, including support for local initiatives

Restore 2009 funding cuts to the arts and increase the BC Arts Council budget

The NDP promise to raise the minimum wage to $10 and tie it to inflation received much praise from Sinclair.

“We’re not going to make our way forward on cheap labour or by selling our environment,” he said.

The B.C. Federation of Labour, which according to its website represents over 500,000 workers around the province, is also advocating for greater worker protection and support.

NDP platform commitments in these areas include:

Improve foreign credential recognition and strengthen protection for foreign workers

Fight for longer and better Employment Insurance protection

Increase compensation claim benefits for workplace injuries

Improve workplace inspections and enforcement

Garrett Zehr reports for The Hook

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