The provincial government says it’ll be sending in employees to help Canfor workers deal with the upcoming closure of its Houston sawmill in April.
“Our immediate priority is to support the workers and families impacted by the closure of the Chetwynd sawmill and pellet mill, and the temporary closure of the Houston mill,” indicated a Jan. 25 statement from forests minister Bruce Ralston and jobs minister Brenda Bailey.
“Community support teams have been activated and will be there to connect workers with the services they need.”
What exactly that means has not yet been determined but the ministers said the province is committed to supporting the workers and supporting long-term forestry jobs.
“In the last week, government announced the $90-million B.C. Manufacturing Jobs Fund that will promote value-added innovation in the forestry sector, $50 million in funding to increase fibre supply, and we launched a new program to provide dedicated access of timber to valued-added manufacturers,” the ministers’ statement added.
Canfor says the closure is temporary in anticipation of building a replacement mill but did say a decision on a rebuild has yet to be made by the company’s board of directors.
Still, the two ministers said they welcomed Canfor’s plan.
A replacement mill would “ensure good forestry jobs remain in the region, aligning with our government’s goal to produce higher-value products from the available sustainable timber supply,” they said.
“The annual allowable cut has declined due to the end of the beetle kill harvest and unprecedented wildfires around the province. In the Houston area, the annual harvest has declined by more than 25 per cent compared to 2008 during the height of the beetle epidemic,” the statement continued.