Prince George, B.C. (April 3, 2018): More than 500 industry and government leaders, expert speakers and delegates will gather in Prince George for the BC Council of Forest Industries [COFI] annual convention in Prince George from April 4-6, 2018. The convention program will cover topics critical to the industry, including trade, international markets, economic outlook, Canada-U.S. relations, technology and preparing for the next generation of the workforce.
After a highly successful event in Vancouver last year, the COFI convention is once again returning to the heart of the B.C. interior forest industry in Prince George. “Prince George is one of 140 communities across the province that depend on the forest sector through mills, manufacturing facilities, forestry and logging operations,” said Susan Yurkovich, COFI President and CEO. “The forest industry is a key economic driver in the province, generating one out of every 17 jobs, making it one of B.C.’s largest employers at more than 140,000 total jobs that generate $8.6 billion in wages to workers.”
“The annual convention provides an opportunity to gather together to discuss issues critically important to the forest industry’s success. This year, we are especially pleased to be welcoming new members from the coastal forest sector to the COFI family,” added Yurkovich. “Together, we are working to provide a strong voice for the forest industry, and the communities, workers and families that depend on us across our province.”
The convention sessions begin Thursday, April 5th at 8:00am and the final keynote concludes on Friday, April 6th at 1:45pm. Program highlights include:
- Keynote Speech from Premier John Horgan. The Premier is committed to a strong, vibrant and diverse forest industry and understands the importance of forestry to B.C.’s economy. We look forward to the Premier’s address to delegates on Friday, April 6 at 9:00am.
- Hon. Marc Garneau, Canada’s Minister of Transport and Chair of the Cabinet Committee on Canada-United States Relations. Due to NAFTA talks, Ambassador David MacNaughton is unfortunately no longer able to travel to Prince George this week. The Ambassador has asked Hon. Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport and Chair of the Cabinet Committee responsible for Canada-U.S. Relations, to address the convention in his place. We are very pleased to welcome Minister Garneau who will provide an update on Canada-U.S. trade relations.
- B.C. Ministers Panel. COFI is pleased to welcome a panel of three B.C. cabinet ministers with responsibility for land, environment and jobs in British Columbia. The panel will include Hon. Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development, Hon. George Heyman, Minister of Environment & Climate Change Strategy, and Hon. Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade & Technology.
- Valuing B.C.’s Forests for the Future. Bruce Anderson, Chair of Abacus Data, is one of Canada’s leading commentators on public opinion and public affairs. He was a regular member of CBC’s popular At Issue Panel, and writes columns for the Globe and Mail. At the COFI convention, Bruce will provide an overview of current research of British Columbian’s perception of forestry in B.C.
- CEO Panel. Forest company CEOs will provide their perspective on the current challenges and opportunities facing the forest industry in B.C., and share their insights into what the future holds for the sector.
- The Shifting Economic Landscape in Canada and British Columbia. As the Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer of the Business Council of BC, Jock Finlayson is one of the most highly regarded economic commentators in B.C. Jock will share his perspective of the shifting economic landscape in Canada and British Columbia.
- International Markets Review. Our panel of experts will talk about the global market outlook and trends, market development initiatives, and provide insights into the important U.S. marketplace.
- Canada’s Digital Supercluster and Why It Matters for Forestry. In February 2018, Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster was awarded federal funding as part of the Government of Canada’s Innovation Supercluster initiative. This supercluster is estimated to create 50,000 jobs and inject $15 billion in GDP into B.C.’s economy over the decade. Dean Prelazzi, Business Development Lead of Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster, will discuss Canada’s digital supercluster and why it matters for forestry.
- Presentation from BC’s Chief Forester. Diane Nicholls, ADM & Chief Forester, Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources, Operations and Rural Development, will provide a presentation on sustainability in the forest sector, and an update with respect to the timber harvesting land base.
- Forestry Jobs for Today and Tomorrow. With more than 10,000 job openings in the B.C. forest sector in the next 10 years, panelists will discuss jobs that are in demand in forestry, how we are transforming our workforce for the industry of the future, and new ways of training and recruiting the next generation.
- Softwood Lumber Board Presentation. Duncan Davies, President & CEO of Interfor, Co-Chair of the BC Lumber Trade Council and a member of the Executive Committee of the Softwood Lumber Board [SLB], will provide an update on the importance of the work of the SLB in promoting the benefits and use of softwood lumber in the U.S. marketplace.
- Canadian Forest Service. COFI welcomes Beth MacNeil, the newly appointed Assistant Deputy Minister and the head of the Natural Resources Canada’s Canadian Forest Service to provide remarks.
Visit the convention website at https://www.cofi.org/convention/2018-convention/ to view the program and for other conference information. To arrange an interview, please contact Mina Laudan.
Backgrounder: 2018 COFI Convention Program