Sawmill operators in B.C. are asking for the province's help to bring in more logs instead of sending the wood away as exports.

Teal-Jones sawmill manager Randy Jackson told CTV News that his business is now slower than it's ever been before.

"Year to date, we've been down 33-and-a-half shifts, to where the guys have been out of work due to lack of logs coming in to keep the mill going," Jackson said.

The Surrey mill gets a certain amount of wood from its own tree farms, but the rest is purchased on the open market. According to B.C. policy, any wood deemed surplus can be sent overseas, a procedure that Jackson believes is hurting businesses at home.

"We seem to have opened it up to where we have a lot more export than normal and we're just not able to get the wood that we need to keep things going," he said.

Jackson says his mill isn't against raw log exports, but he believes there needs to be a better balance between overseas and local sales.

Last year, B.C. exported a record 5.5 million cubic metres of raw logs.

The government's export policy has come under fire from the opposition NDP in the legislature in recent weeks. Last month, New Democrat MLA Bill Routley said mills across the province are hungry for logs.

"I've been told by mill managers that more B.C. mills will be gone if this level of raw log exports continues," Routley said during question period.

The Ministry of Forests says local companies are given the chance to bid on available logs. The bids are then reviewed to determine if what's being offered is fair market value.

"If we put in place a policy that forces people who are harvesting those logs to sell them to the domestic mills as part of that process at a loss, then that's not very good either for the industry," Forest Minister Steve Thomson said.

He says that exports are necessary to keep the logging industry alive.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Maria Weisgarber