Federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr

Ottawa’s lumber industry aid ‘not subsidy’

$867 million package includes loans, training, extension of EI work sharing to keep people working

The federal government’s latest assistance package for the forest industry is designed not to generate further complaints about subsidies after the U.S. imposed border duties averaging 20 per cent on Canadian lumber exports, federal officials say.

The $867 million package includes loans and loan guarantees as well as extensions of federal work sharing programs to preserve employment, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said.

Carr, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and International Trade Minister Francois-Phillippe Champagne announced the assistance in Ottawa Thursday.

It includes federal loans and loan guarantees of up to $500 million to assist viable forest industry companies, with $105 million in commercial financing from the Business Development Bank of Canada.

Another $260 million is provided for temporary extension of work-sharing agreements from 38 to 76 weeks to reduce layoffs, expand support for skills upgrading for affected forest industry workers, and to help indigenous communities improve performance of their forest operations.

“This action plan delivers on our pledge to take swift and reasonable action to defend our softwood lumber industry and charts a stronger future for the workers, families and communities that depend on it,” Carr said. “We are prepared to take further action, including additional loan guarantees, to address changing market conditions.”

Susan Yurkovich, president of the B.C. Lumber Trade Council, praised the federal assistance package.

“This package is a prudent response that can provide both immediate support for workers and communities if required, along with enabling additional investments in longer-term opportunities for the sector,” Yurkovich said. “We particularly appreciate the investment in expanding markets for Canada’s high-quality forest products overseas, which will help to further diversify our markets.”

The U.S. Commerce Department is upholding a U.S. industry complaint, for the fifth time in the past 30 years, that Canadian lumber is subsidized by timber cutting rates charged by provinces on Crown land. The latest complaint also accuses Canadian producers of “dumping” lumber in the U.S. market at artificially low prices.

Carr and Champagne said the loans will be made at commercial rates and do not constitute a subsidy. They are designed to complement provincial programs in provinces such as B.C., the source of about half of all Canadian lumber exports to the U.S.

During the B.C. election campaign, Premier Christy Clark promised that the province would buy lumber from B.C. producers and stockpile it for building projects around the province, to help the industry through the latest dispute.

NDP leader John Horgan said as premier he would personally go to Washington D.C. to represent B.C.’s interest, but he has confidence in former federal minister and industry executive David Emerson, retained by the B.C. Liberal government to represent B.C. in lumber talks.

That proposal is in limbo as the NDP and B.C. Green parties look to topple the B.C. Liberal government this month.

With the U.S. also preparing to open up the North American Free Trade Agreement, Freeland said softwood lumber has historically been dealt with outside NAFTA. The broader trade negotiations don’t begin until mid-August.

Discussions with U.S. trade officials on softwood lumber are ongoing and recent discussions between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump on trade in general have been positive, Freeland said.

 

Just Posted

Fort St. James gets a new CAO

Melany Helmer comes with years of senior management experience

Northwest mobile unit to help those at heart of mental health, addiction crisis

Province, Northern Health unveils new unit in Terrace to bridge gaps in services

Move natural gas pipeline, MP suggests

Coastal GasLink could then avoid opposition

B.C. minister says rural internet is ‘railroad of the 21st century’

Jinny Sims talks details about the $50-million provincial and possible $750-million federal funds

Zero-interest student loans a huge relief: CMTN student union

Parliamentary secretary hears from Terrace students, alumni and staff

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Trudeau calls May 6 byelection for B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith

The riding opened up when Sheila Malcolmson resigned in January

B.C. VIEWS: The hijacking of our education system gathers speed

Children taught to strike and shout fringe far-left demands

Judges on Twitter? Ethical guidance for those on the bench under review

Canadian judges involvement in community life are among issues under review

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Most Read