While recent years have been difficult for the industry, the industry has been working aggressively to transform itself and transition towards a higher value, more economically sustainable, next generation industry.
Although the industry has been doing the heavy lifting to transform itself, our partnership with government has been critical in the development of a supportive policy framework to accelerate the industry's transformation to power the economic recovery and sustain jobs in rural Canada. It is an exciting time for the forest products industry—it is growing and transforming under the strategic roadmap ‘Vision2020’. When released in 2012, the Vision set three ambitious goals: to refresh the workforce with an additional 60,000 new employees; improve environmental performance by a further 35%; and generate an additional $20 billion in economic activity from new products and markets.
To track our progress, FPAC made a commitment to report publicly on the collective progress of the industry every two years. In June, 2014 FPAC released the first of these bi-annual report cards on this decade long journey: Vision2020: Pathways to Prosperity which shows headway on all three goals between the baseline year of 2010 to 2012.
The ambitious goals of Vision2020 cannot be achieved without coordination and cooperation from many players. In addition to the important work of individual companies, there is a role for the academic community, federal and provincial governments, communities, labour unions, environmental groups and others
During the first two years of Vision2020, FPAC has identified many ways that government policy can assist in reaching the three ambitious goals of Vision2020 by the end of the decade. They are:
Enable a right-sizing of Canada’s transportation system to meet growing demand for rail service and maximize delivery through the supply chain such as ports and border crossings.
Maintain successful innovation partnerships through support for FPInnovations and for university and college research to help facilitate transformation and increase the success of adopting commercial scale innovation.
Continue successful initiatives that bridge funding gaps in the innovation system. This includes the Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) Tech Fund that supports clean technology projects.
Expand and enhance free trade agreements on a global basis especially to key emerging markets such as China and India, maintain the support of the broad network of trade offices abroad and promote the “Canadian Brand” around the world to attract global partners to the industry.
Review pension deficiency regulations in order to make them seamless from one jurisdiction to another, responsive to a low interest rate environment and competitive with the practices now in place in the USA.
Review the rules governing mergers and acquisitions to ensure that Canadian companies can grow to the size and scale necessary to compete in the global forest products marketplace.
Ensure a world class regulatory system that is efficient and effective at meeting intended outcomes.
Undertake a systematic regulatory review to ensure there is coordination, elimination of undue burden, and fresh approaches to meet regulatory objectives.
Continue to support the implementation of the CBFA and promote the industry’s environmental credentials internationally.
Fast-track the immigration approval process for specific in-demand jobs where needs are acute.
Implement funding programs such as the Canada Job Grant and apprenticeship loans.
Increase funding under the Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit to expand it from covering only the first two years to also covering third and fourth year apprenticeships.
Work towards harmonizing apprenticeship training and the journey-person-to-apprentice ratio for all Red Seal jobs.
Canada's forest products industry is ideally positioned to excel in the new dynamic, high growth global marketplace for bio-products such as in fuels, power, plastics and value-added chemicals from biomass. Technological advances and partnerships with bio-tech companies are creating viable transformational pathways for the industry that will allow it to take advantage of the emerging bio-economy and to diversify revenues, create new jobs and foster economic independence.
The Bio-pathways analysis reported that we could create five times more jobs by integrating bio-product production into the existing forest industry, positioning Canada to serve this growing, dynamic new market.
Our global competitors are already getting on with it! Competing jurisdictions such as the US and Europe are providing massive government support to their domestic industries to accelerate their contribution to the 21st century bio-economy.
Should we fail to act, the Canadian industry is at serious risk of falling behind and losing jobs.
For years, shippers of forest products have had to contend with poor, uncompetitive freight service at the hands of Canada's national railways.
Following the release of the Rail Freight Service Review Panel's report (March 18th, 2011), government immediately committed to "improve the performance of the rail supply chain by":
Initiating a six-month facilitation process with shippers, railways and other stakeholders to negotiate a template service agreement and streamlined commercial dispute resolution process; and,
Tabling a bill to give shippers the right to a service agreement to support the commercial measures. An enhanced rail freight system represents a policy option that would enhance the economic competitiveness of rural-based, resource industries at no cost to the federal government. Government should act now to implement the measures announced in March, 2011.
An enhanced rail freight system represents a policy option that would enhance the economic competitiveness of rural-based, resource industries at no cost to the federal government.
Government should act now to implement the measures announced in March, 2011.
Forest product companies in Canada are now starting to hire again and the sector recruited 8,000 workers in the period 2010 to 2012, mainly to replace retiring baby-boomers. The pace of hiring is set to further increase as the industry transforms. Forest products companies, similar to those in other sectors, are reporting difficulties in replacing skilled workers. The sector is currently in need of all types of workers such as millwrights, pipefitters, engineers, forest technicians, truck drivers and management personnel.
FPAC launched TheGreenestWorkforce.ca to help rebrand the industry and attract a new generation of employees to the sector. The industry is also looking to adopt best practices for hiring and retaining workers, and to work co-operatively with other sectors and governments on policies and programs that would increase the pools of skilled workers in Canada.
One of the identified challenges in finding people with the right skills is the need to better understand where the jobs are and where the workers are. This is addressed through better labour market information and data. FPAC is working with an advisory committee made up of member companies, academics, forest sector organizations and governments to create a comprehensive national Labour Market Information (LMI) web application tool for the forest products industry.
Funding comes from the Sector Initiatives Program of Employment and Social Development Canada. This tool will gather data from different sources, permit queries at the regional, provincial and national levels, and produce regular LMI forecast reports.
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, and Natural Resources Canada should work with the industry to develop solutions.
Submission to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA)
February 17, 2015: FPAC’s President and CEO, David Lindsay and Executive VP Catherine Cobden appeared before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Natural Resources which is studying the renewal of Canada's forest industry.
Read the entire transcript here: Standing Committee on Natural Resources (February 17, 2014)