Millworkers now eligible for employment assistance

Federal program approved as of Nov. 17

Canfor workers here idled on Fridays when the sawmill isn’t operating can now begin collecting federal employment insurance benefits for the day they aren’t on the job.

Canfor submitted its application for the program earlier this fall but only received word this month that benefits would be paid effective Nov. 17, company official Michelle Ward says.

Employees could opt out if they wished with a deadline for that also being Nov. 17, she added.

“At Houston we have about 300 employees and 275 at Plateau [near Vanderhoof]. All employees are eligible. We’ve had about 75 employees at each mill opt out of the program,” Ward continued.

And should Canfor take further action to temporarily close the two mills, eligible employees can collect EI benefiits on those days operations are curtailed.

Based on information about the program provided by the federal government, Ward indicated benefits are processed through the EI payment system and it may take up to 28 days for people to receive their first cheque.

Benefits are paid are based on the employee’s normal average weekly earnings.

As well, employees are required to report to work as it becomes available, Ward noted.

In the meantime, employees eligible for another program, a provincial government one that provides money for those who wish early retirement, are starting to file applications.

It’s meant to bridge the time from retiring early until normal pension payments begin.

There are eligibility requirements and the program is meant for workers at mills that are now either permanently closed or going through temporary shutdowns.

Up to $75,000 is available for an employee retiring earlier than what might have been the case otherwise. Exactly how much a person might receive is based on age, years on the job and an employer’s contribution.

The early retirement incentive is also aimed at opening a position up for a younger employee.

Announced in September in response to a continuing series of mill permanent or temporary closures, the province said the early retirement bridging program is worth $40 million, a figure that is to be cost-shared with participating companies. To date, no cost-sharing deal has been reached.

The provincial jobs ministry, which is running the program, hasn’t released how many people have applied at each affected mill, but did say it is processing more than 400 applications from around the province.

“There have been four permanent mill closures, affecting between 500 to 700 workers and 13 indefinite closures affecting around 1,000 workers,” the ministry stated.

”Including curtailments, 3,000 workers can benefit from the suite of programs.”

That “suite of programs” is a reference to job retraining monies and grants to remove trees and other material which could form fire hazards to adjacent communities.

Those programs were also announced by the province in September.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Single-engine aircraft crashes near Telkwa

Two occupants of the plane sustained minor injuries and were transported to hospital

Cullen announces bid for provincial NDP nomination for Stikine riding

Current MLA Donaldson not seeking re-election

Anne Marie Sam seeks NDP nomination for Nechako Lakes riding

She also ran in 2017 but was defeated by BC Liberal John Rustad

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

First full day of B.C.’s election campaign begins amid COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson and the Green party’s Sonia Furstenau criticized John Horgan’s decision

RCMP issue two $2,300 COVID fines at same Metro Vancouver vacation rental within 24 hours

Cpl. Mike Kalanj said it was ‘quite frankly appalling’ to see parties breaking COVID-19 rules

Here’s how voting amid a pandemic will happen in B.C.

Elections BC has worked with the provincial health office to determine safety protocols for voting

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. privacy commissioner will hear First Nations complaints about COVID

The hearing will rely on written submissions from the Indigenous governments as well as the Ministry of Health

Majority of Canadians support wearing masks during COVID-19, oppose protests: poll

Nearly 90 per cent felt wearing a mask was a civic duty because it protects others from COVID-19

Paper towel in short supply as people stay home, clean more, industry leader says

While toilet paper consumption has returned to normal levels, paper towel sales continue to outpace pre-COVID levels

Most Read