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.
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 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.
Despite the recent downturn in the Canadian forest products sector, forecasts of the industry's future human resources needs shows that the industry will be facing a shortage of skilled people to work in the sector in the near future.
With the industry's employment needs expected to rise in most economic forecast scenarios, coupled with an aging workforce facing a high rate of attrition, the sector will need to adjust its human resources strategies going forward.
Instead of the recent focus on downsizing, the sector will need to shift to recruitment and retention strategies and work with government in the area of skills development and training to foster a skilled workforce that will allow the industry to maintain existing operations.
Projected Labour Needs:
Replacement demand, that is hiring requirements resulting purely from retirements and other workers leaving the sector's workforce, are estimated to be at least 53,000 over the coming decade.
When the employment gains from the scenarios are added in, the sector may need to hire more than 130,000 people in the next ten years, if a strong general economic recovery were to occur.
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, and Natural Resources Canada should work with the industry to develop solutions.
Budget Asks 2013
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