Employment up at B.C.’s top forestry companies

Average employment rose 5.2% at biggest businesses

Canfor Corp. and other top B.C. forestry companies have posted sharp increases in employment and revenue after steep declines with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic | Submitted photo

After a difficult COVID-19 pandemic year, B.C.’s largest forestry companies are revving up their chainsaws, according to data collected on Business in Vancouver’s Biggest Forestry Companies in B.C. list (https://biv.com/lists).

In 2020, they reported a 13.6% drop in B.C. employment to an average of 955.8 from 1,105.8 employees in 2019. Though B.C.’s forestry industry is far from returning to 2019 employment levels, it has rebounded somewhat. Average employment at the top forestry companies grew 5.2% over the past year to 1,005.4. But employment levels have dropped over the past five years, with the average B.C. employment level falling 5.7% since 2017.

During 2019, the four largest forestry companies with revenue numbers available all experienced revenue declines, with an average drop of 18.6%. In 2020, however, all four bounced back, with revenues growing an average of 18.2%.

The largest forestry company on BIV’s list, Canfor Corp. (TSX:CFP), surpassed its 2018 revenue with a 17.1% increase in 2020 to $5.45 billion from $4.66 billion in 2019.

The four largest forestry companies with revenue numbers available have increased revenue since 2017.

Despite suffering an 18.7% revenue decline from $1.19 billion in 2016 to $964 million in 2020, No. 5 Western Forest Products (TSX:WEF) increased its B.C. employee base by 3.9%, to 2,150 in 2020 from 2,069 in 2016. However, a year after the pandemic started, the company’s B.C. employment dropped 8.6% to 1,966 employees, its lowest level in at least five years.

– Albert Van Santvoort

avansantvoort@biv.com