As this year’s annual meeting of the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM) came to a close last week in Ottawa, there were a number of key takeaways – Canada has among the world’s most sustainable forest practices with a shared commitment to continuous improvement; jobs in forestry are the backbone of hundreds of communities across rural and northern Canada; and the Canadian forest sector is poised to be a key player in the future of Canada’s bioeconomy with Friday’s launch of the National Forest Bioeconomy Framework.

The meeting was an opportunity for the federal and provincial governments, Indigenous leaders, industry and other key partners to come together to discuss current and future issues in Canada’s forest sector so we can continue to bring about environmental and economic benefits to Canadians – including our important work in the fight against climate change. As Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said at the CCFM meetings, we can’t fight climate change without Canada’s forest sector.

The spirit of the meeting was that of collaboration, but we were reminded this same week that there are some groups that are unfortunately motivated by other means and continue to share misinformation about our sector’s work, our workers and our forestry communities.  Some of the claims made were so egregious, that we have no choice but to respond.

In two separate blogs published last week, the American-based Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) again published misleading information about Canada’s forest sector and our workers in Ontario and Quebec.

Our Workers – By the Numbers:

The global move away from paper to digital platforms combined with the recession of 2008 and a collapsing U.S. housing market hit our forestry workers and our forest communities hard.  It forced many of our companies to close mills, innovate, identify new product areas and reorganize our workforce accordingly. As in other industries, advances in technology have rendered some jobs no longer required, but at the same time we’ve seen an increase in more specialized and skilled requirements in our sector.  Contrary to NRDC’s comments, between 2007-2014, average wages in our sector actually increased by 14% 1,2,3.

While this transformation has been difficult for a number of our workers and many of our forest communities, innovation and capital improvements have been critical to ensuring that we still have a competitive forest products sector in Ontario and Quebec today. While the industry looks different than it did 10 years ago, for the some 96,000 Ontarians and Quebeckers working directly in forestry today, these remain good jobs in rural and northern communities that need them.

The 96,000 people in Ontario and Quebec directly employed in forest company operations represent a payroll of $4 billion for these two provinces alone. For every job created in the forest, 3 jobs are created in the lumber yard and 2 jobs are created in pulp and paper. That’s critical to hundreds of communities throughout Ontario and Quebec like Ear Falls, Kenora, Lac Saint Jean, Temiskaming and Whitney.

Supporting Caribou Populations:

Canada’s forest products sector remains committed to doing our part to supporting the future of caribou in Canada.  Contrary to NRDC’s outright lie, the industry has not ‘called for the provincial and federal Canadian governments to cease their efforts to protect woodland caribou habitat’.  We in fact launched in an effort to ensure that we are getting the right plans that are built on the best science. This is central to our commitment to sustainable forest management and supporting forest ecosystems for not only caribou, but for all wildlife in Canada’s forests.

We’ll let the details at speak for themselves.  In the weeks ahead, we look forward to working with federal, provincial, Indigenous and municipal governments and other partners in academia, labour and the environmental community to establish plans that support caribou and our communities.

  1. Table 281-0024: Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH), employment by type of employee and detailed North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) annual (people)
  2. Table 301-0008: Principal statistics for manufacturing industries, by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) annual (data in thousands)
  3. Table 301-0006: Principal statistics for manufacturing industries, by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), *Archived* annual (dollars unless otherwise noted)