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Coronavirus: Note that due to the current coronavirus epidemic, it is likely that all tree planting companies in Canada will probably be forced to start their planting seasons several weeks later than normal this year, until the rate of new cases starts to drop significantly. We do not, however, expect that tree planting will be cancelled entirely. Visit replant.ca/coronavirus for industry updates. The delays to our startup will obviously affect the dates that I mention further down this page.
I'm currently in the process of reviewing applications for tree planters for my own camp's upcoming 2020 spring and summer season at Folklore Contracting, for work in British Columbia and Alberta. So far, I have 53 confirmed vets and 12 confirmed first-year planters.
Although my preference is to prioritize applications from planters with previous experience, I definitely encourage applications from inexperienced applicants. If you are an inexperienced candidate and are reluctant to apply because you feel your chances of getting an interview for my waiting list are low, I strongly encourage you to apply anyway. If you have a good application, I will also share your application with the other camp supervisors at Folklore, to increase the chance that you'll be able to secure a job. Between our six camps, about 20% of our employees are usually first-year planters, which means that we'll be hiring about 50-70 inexperienced planters company-wide. Tree prices are increasing in 2020, and this is a great time to become a tree planter.
You can also apply to other camps at Folklore through this link: www.folklorecontracting.ca/jobs
Do not apply if you're not a Canadian and if you do not have a valid Canadian social insurance number.
Cooks & Camps
My head cook, Stephane Levesque, has cooked for me since the late 1990's. He's an excellent cook and an excellent personality in camp. Camp costs are $25 when we're in BC and $27 in Alberta. You'll be very well fed.
In early 2019, we discussed the pros and cons of eliminating camp costs. We had a choice between either raising the tree prices, or eliminating camp costs. After receiving widespread feedback from members of my camp, it was obvious that our employees' preference was to leave camp costs in place, so everybody in camp would pay exactly the same daily dollar amount to be fed. Due to this consensus, we were able to raise tree prices instead. If you want to understand more about camp costs, visit this link: www.replant.ca/campcosts
As far as the camps go, Folklore excels at putting up functional mobile camps. The company invests a lot of money into mess tents, generators, pumps and water systems, shower and kitchen trailers, dry tents, and basic remote satellite internet capabilities. We also use trucked-in potable water for everything but the showers, to avoid the risk of water-borne pathogens which could cause a sickness in camp.
Our camp currently has five experienced foremen returning for another season in 2020, plus two crew leaders going into their first year running crews. Our entire management team has worked together for several years.
Length of Season
My camp planted about 7.01 million trees in 2019. For 2020, I now expect to be planting more than 8.2 million. As the season approaches, this number is likely to continue to grow. We also have the option of picking up additional trees from other Folklore contracts if we get ahead of schedule. I have also communicated to all of our foresters that I will accept all nursery overruns, which happens quite frequently. Based upon sowing requests at the nurseries, and contracts that have been tendered, 2020 will be a historically record-setting year for tree planting in BC.
Our camp had 72 planting days in 2019. I expect the same or more in 2020. Our first day of planting is tentatively planned to be approximately April 24th. We realize that some people who attend college or university will still be writing exams at that point, so some planters will arrive in early May. Shifts are usually 3&1's until approximately May 15th, while people are getting back into shape, and then 4&1's in late May and throughout June. In July, we often move back to 3&1's if we're comfortable with meeting project deadlines. Our last day of planting this year will probably be August 4th.
The top twenty percent of planters in my camp in 2019 averaged around $29k apiece for earnings. That breakdown included one 6th year planter, four 5th year planters, four 4th year planters, and two 3rd year planters. I expect to easily beat those numbers in 2020, thanks to stronger prices and the expectation of a longer season. Based simply upon the percentage increases in prices, the same group should achieve an average gross earnings of at least $33k in 2020, and probably higher than that due to a longer season.
I expect that most first-year planters who work our full season will probably gross between $15.5k and $19k, before items such as equipment, camp costs, etc. If a planter is unable to make the equivalent of minimum wage from per-tree earnings at the start of the season, as you are learning to plant and/or getting back into shape, we top up payroll to that amount. This applies to all planters, not just rookies. Having said that, our tree prices are quite strong for 2020, so we don't anticipate that our top-up wages will be significant.
All of our drivers have submitted driver's abstracts, and go through annual driver certification or refresher training.
All drivers and occupants must wear seatbelts, 100% of the time, non-negotiable.
All of our trucks have GPS fleet devices to help prevent speeding via remote monitoring.
We do not use vans or buses. All of our vehicles are crew cab pickups or crummies mounted on F450 or F550 pickup chassis. All of our vehicles are 4-wheel drive. Every vehicle gets a safety and maintance inspection before the season starts, and then undergoes regular maintenance and full safety inspections at licensed mechanical facilities every four weeks during the season.
We have approximately twenty individuals in camp with the basic WorkSafe BC certified two-day "Level 1" occupational first aid training.
We typically have five to seven individuals in camp with the advanced WorkSafe BC certified multi-week "Level 3" occupational first aid training.
All planters will be provided WHMIS training and other basic industry-related training.
A significant number of additional employees, both in-camp management and regular planters, have elected to take a large number of additional training courses, including but not limited to: Transportation of Dangerous Goods, ATV training, Chainsaw training, Safe Food Handling, Danger Tree Assessor, PAL certification, H2S and Poisonous Gas training, Supervisory Safety Management training, EMS courses, etc. If we schedule you into any training courses (which depends on your role in the camp), all training course costs are covered by Folklore Contracting.
Workplace harassment and sexual harassment have been the media lately. We are reviewing and improving our programs and protocols so that we can be one of the leading camps in the industry with respect to these issues. I have been consulting with more than a dozen of the senior members of my camp (mostly women) with respect to this. We will be providing advance professional training sessions before the season starts, which will be mandatory for all management personnel (supervisor, crew leaders, checkers, tree runners). Our management team includes a number of women, who will be critical to informing our best path going forward. We will be bringing an industry Safety Advocate into camp to talk to management about these and additional issues. We expect to be sponsoring visits from appropriate agencies (such as NSDP) to come into the camp for presentations and interactive sessions with the full camp (similar to our regular visits from Total Physio). Our management team will all be signing a Pledge of Conduct, which will guide us to ensure that we follow standards of professionalism which are higher than those that are expected in the modern workplace.
Our camp has two Safety & Harassment Officers (female planters with several years of experience in the camp) who ensure that if any safety or harassment issues arise, they are dealt with appropriately. I take the safety and comfort level of the people in my camp very seriously. I introduce all new women who are hired to female planters who have already worked in the camp, so the new hires can begin to understand our camp culture, and our commitment to safety and a harassment-free workplace. This applies to both experienced and inexperienced new employees.
As noted above, we tentatively intend to start planting in mid to late April, and our first contracts will be in south central BC. Right now, it looks like we'll probably be working in the 70 Mile House area for the BC Timber Sales organization (provincial government), and up the Scottie FSR in the Cache Creek area for BCTS and also for a consulting company called Forsite. These locations fall within the Kamloops forest district. Prices on these contracts will range from a minimum of 16.0 cents to a high price of 23.0 cents. The average tree price on each contract will be slightly above 18.0 cents per tree. All blocks on both contracts are burned raw ground that were scorched during the 2017 and/or 2018 wildfire seasons. I will be sharing full sets of block maps and multiple photos of each block on those two contracts with everyone in camp, so you can see in advance what the ground looks like. Imagine the desolation of Smaug.
In early June, we'll be doing three to four weeks of work for a private mill west of Calgary. All of the ground is normal easy post-harvest raw and/or chain-dragged cutblocks, and prices will range from 14 to 16.5 cents.
In July, we'll round out the season with a large contract around Whitecourt. Prices will range from 12.0 to 14.5 cents for prepped ground, and from 14.0 to 16.5 cents for raw ground. We also have several other small contracts during July, which will mean that a few of our crews will be going off to do those jobs for one to four days at a time, and working temporarily out of motels. Prices on those jobs will range from 15 to 20.0 cents, depending on the job.
Prices vs. Earnings
As far as prices go, Folklore generally tries to focus upon finding work on lower-priced, easy ground, which offers an easy learning curve for inexperienced planters and for planters migrating from Ontario. If you look through lots of the photo galleries on the Replant website, you'll see the types of ground that is typical for our camp. In 2019, our overall weighted-average all-inclusive earnings per tree for the entire season was 15.1 cents, including all of the site prepped ground in Alberta factored in. Our average will be higher in 2020 (I'd estimate between 16.8 and 17.4 cents for the season as a whole). However, if you do much research, you'll soon realize that prices are completely irrelevant unless taken in context with the difficulty of the land, and you can never understand how difficult the land is from a job advertisement. You should focus on expected daily earnings rather than tree prices.
Gross daily earnings for the average first-year planter at Folklore, company-wide, were approximately $226/day in 2019 (based on planters who worked for a full season, not including anyone who quit early). Similarly, company-wide earnings for the average full-season experienced planter were approximately $346/day in 2019. These numbers represent gross earnings, before daily camp costs were deducted, and were based on full days of work. We expect these numbers to increase company-wide in 2020 due to stronger industry pricing and a healthy season.
Note that when I suggested that you check out the photos on the main Replant website, do not look at the coastal photos as examples of the ground that our camp plants! Folklore doesn't do coastal planting. The coastal galleries are when I work separately for other companies on the coast each spring and fall. The contracts that my camp plants are much, much easier.
Folklore pays earnings bi-weekly, with direct deposit into your bank accounts. In the decade that we've been using this system, the payroll has never been even one day late. Ever.
We pay 100% of the tree price. You will not receive deductions for quality fines.
We follow the BC provincial regulations for minimum wage, which mostly affects first-year planters, although this sometimes comes into play for imported vets on their first paycheque. We schedule our workday to reflect 11 hours of work, including the portal-to-portal drive time. Unless we work a part day during the ramp-up at the start of the season or on the last day of a contract, you should expect to receive 11 hours on your payroll and 11 hours for your ROE (for EI). Minimum wage equivalents (which we pay to planters who do not earn the equivalent of minimum wage in their piece-rate earnings) are approximately $186 per 11 hour day in BC (rising to $196/day when minimum wage goes up on June 1st 2020), and approximately $202 per 11 hour day in Alberta. These numbers go slightly higher after 40 or 44 hours in a work week. If you're a first year planter, and you're applying at ANY planting company in BC or Alberta, ask them for clarification in writing about whether they pay minimum wage top-up for portal-to-portal work, if applicable, and how many hours they plan for in a standard work day for payroll and ROE's. The minimum wage rose significantly in Alberta last year, and that $202 is not a typo for a standard 11 hour day (minimum wage of $15.00/hr, eight hours of straight time, plus three hours of time-and-a-half, plus vacation and statutory holiday pay on top). Every company working in Alberta this year should be paying these minimums. Almost two thirds of our season is in Alberta.
Our planters do not have to buy their own flagging tape.
Our planters do not have to buy their own tarps for tree caches.
We pay planters if they are involved in camp setup or breakdown.
You will know your tree prices before planting each block. This is required as per BC's Employment Standards, and I will make sure that all block prices are listed in writing before you start planting. Everyone in camp will have access to an online summary spreadsheet, at all times, which details prices on all prior and current blocks. In fact, I'll often do that for the entire contract in advance, when I'm able to figure out that information.
If reefers have to be unloaded into summer shade tents by planters, we pay for that. Very few of the other major northern Interior planting companies do this.
No pets permitted. I love dogs, but we've inadvertently killed too many in our camps.
Musical instruments (especially guitars, etc.) are highly encouraged.
If anyone wants to and has the capability to bring a mountain bike to camp, I think you should consider it. We've often talked in the past about how it would be nice to have a few bikes in camp for days off. We had two bikes last year. I don't mean to suggest that you should bring a good bike to donate for communal use; I'm just saying that you might enjoy having one for yourself if you're a frequent biker.
If you have a specific food allergy or specialized diet, please let us know that when applying, so we can let you know what can be and what can't be provided. Our cooks have quite a challenge in cooking for almost seventy people, so it can be difficult for them to provide specialized meals for individuals. We want to be able to plan in advance and make sure that we can accommodate everyone's needs satisfactorily.
We have a number of gay people in camp (including several members of our management team), and we openly welcome gender diversity. We have no tolerance for homophobia, racism, or any other forms of bullying or harassment.
We have a predominantly English-speaking camp, although we have about a dozen people who also speak French, half a dozen who speak Spanish, and a few who speak other languages.
We already have people in our camp from most of the ten Canadian provinces.
Although tree planting camps have traditionally hired male-dominated workforces, Folklore encourages gender equality. We strongly encourage applications from women and persons who identify as gender neutral or non-binary. We attempt to aim for an approximate 50/50 mix of male/female members in our camp (enhanced with the addition of our non-binary folk), although we select individual applicants based upon their qualifications rather than upon their gender.
We have satellite internet in camp. However, it's not the fastest internet you'll ever use. Email and simple web pages are fine. Videos and torrents, not so much. Most people prefer to browse with their phones whenever we have cell coverage in camp.
Planters are responsible for getting to Prince George at the start of the season in late April. After the season is over, you are responsible for your own travel costs (from either Whitecourt or Prince George) to wherever your destination is. During the season, on all camp moves, you will be able to travel with our convoy of trucks and it will not cost you anything. This point will be obvious to experienced planters, but is a common question from first-year planters.
Our management team is extremely organized. We will be sharing digital copies of all block maps on our BC contracts with everyone in camp, long before the season starts. These maps will show quad trails, individual planter pieces along with the hectare sizes of each piece, and all other pertinent info that planters may be curious about. I've already spent a few weeks in October/November building designated quad trail systems though many of the blocks on our first two contracts, and I've tried to set everything up so the planting distance from any given cache to the back of the piece is around a maximum of 250 meters, to minimize the need to heavy bag-ups or dead-walking.
We've had a lot of success in the past several years with bringing more than a dozen planters into camp each year who had experience in Ontario. If you have prior experience in Ontario and would like to move out west, this is a great opportunity. I can introduce you to other planters who made the same transition. Folklore doesn't have the highest prices in the industry, due to the company's focus on fast ground, but it certainly doesn't have the worst either. What we do have is some of the easiest ground in Western Canada, and a company that strives to follow all employment laws. Alberta is shitty when it rains, and full of mud, but if you can live with that, you can make quite a bit of money in a summer (as mentioned already, we work in both BC and then Alberta, as the season progresses). If I had to try to give an unbiased assessment, which of course is hard to do when you're talking about yourself, I'd say that my camp has, "Very good earnings, excellent equipment, excellent organization, a tight-knit community, a big emphasis on safety, and a fairly long season."
If you're worried about the travel costs to BC versus remaining in Ontario, you will easily be able to make significantly more money in BC, and your higher summer earnings will offset the extra travel costs many times over.
If you've planted in Ontario, you're going to be in for a culture shock for the first shift or two as you adapt to higher quality standards, but you'll catch on pretty quickly (typically within 4-6 days). If you're seriously considering a switch from central Canada to the west coast, I'm also willing to introduce you to several people in my camp who recently made the move from Ontario to BC. That way, you can talk to them directly to get a better idea of what to expect when you make the transition, and to answer more questions about my camp in general. You'll get a better idea of the true conditions in the camp from them than you would from anything that I can write, since I've never planted in Ontario myself. I know it's a big step moving away from a company that you know to work with, to join a bunch of strangers on the other side of the country. However, if you meet some of the people in my camp beforehand, that should help you make the decision.
Also, most of my foremen originally started their planting careers in Ontario (at Thunderhouse, Brinkman, HRI, Haveman, and A&M), so you can rest assured that it's not hard to make a successful transition to planting in BC/Alberta. In fact, we have multiple people in my camp who, between them, have worked for every significant company in Ontario. More than fifty percent of the people in our camp originally started their careers in Ontario.
Residents of the Maritime Provinces
It may seem to be a big jump to travel all the way to the west coast to plant, when there are also planting jobs in the Maritimes or Ontario. As mentioned above, the significantly higher wages on the west coast definitely outweigh the travel costs. However, I'd like to take a moment specifically encourage applicants from the Maritime provinces to apply. I do a small amount of planting work in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in late August, so I might have an extra week of planting work available for a handful of planters at that time of year. This would be especially suitable for Maritime residents who want to earn a bit more money. Please note that we're happy to receive applications from the rest of the country too! We usually have planters from almost every province in each of our camps.
For Applicants with Previous Planting Experience
I need to know where you've worked, company names and planting locations (and who your contracts were for, if possible). I need to be able to check references. We have no tolerance for stashing. We work pretty hard - there's no partying during the work week, but on the night before the day off, many members of the camp will bring out the musical instruments and have refreshing adult beverages around the campfire, or a dance party in the mess tent. Now that pot has been legalized, we're comfortable with people smoking in camp in the evenings, but we will not tolerate impairment at work or on the blocks. As mentioned, we have a fairly long season compared to many other western Canadian planting contractors.
Please don't apply if you've had a season that was cut short by a planting injury. If that happened to you, and you think it could happen again, you should look for a different career. The job is challenging enough as it is without having to worry about past injuries that may come back to haunt you.
If you currently have a British Columbia OFA3 first aid ticket, which will remain valid until at least August 1st of 2020, then you should mention this in your application. Any planter (including applicants without previous planting experience) who has this certification will have a significant advantage during the interview process.
To apply, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The ideal application would include a detailed cover letter to give us some background about yourself, plus a short resume. The resume does not have to be too extensive; a one-pager or two-pager is sufficient. If possible, please convert all attachments to PDF's rather than sending Word files or Page files.
Do not contact me through Facebook or Instagram messaging. I don't check those very often. I will acknowledge receipt of all email applications. However, not all applicants will be interviewed.
For more information about Folklore Contracting, visit: www.folklorecontracting.ca
If you've looked at this advertisement multiple times, hit the "Refresh" button on your browser, in case I've made updates. If you don't know how to do this, it's Ctrl-F5 with Windows, Apple-R or Command-R with Mac, F5 with Linux, and pull-refresh on Mobile devices. I generally update this document about once every two weeks, until I've filled all the spots in my camp.
Also, for those of you who end up securing employment as first-year planters at any companies in Canada, my "Step By Step" training book will be VERY helpful to making sure that you're well prepared for the job. Several major Canadian tree planting companies use it as a core part of their training programs, and make it mandatory for all first-year planters to buy a copy. For those of you who are still trying to find work, it also has a comprehensive list of almost every Canadian tree planting company, along with a full chapter of suggestions on the best way to apply for a job: www.replant.ca/stepbystep