When it comes to “securing jobs for families and communities” as described in today’s federal Speech from the Throne, the Forest Products Association of Canada says the federal government needs to pay closer attention to a sector that is the lifeblood of 300 communities in Canada.
“After hearing the Throne Speech we are extremely concerned about the notion that government supports bailing out aerospace and the auto sector while largely ignoring forestry. The government needs to remember that forestry employs more Canadians than the auto and aerospace industries combined and contributes 12 percent of Canada’s manufacturing GDP. We don’t want bailout money but we do want the government to look at us as a policy priority and work with us on a broader stimulus package that includes ensuring credit markets stay strong,” says Avrim Lazar, President and CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC).
The forest industry is no stranger to hard times. It has suffered a severe downturn in market demand resulting in close to 25,000 jobs losses over the past two years due to a drop in housing starts in the United States, a soaring dollar, the softwood lumber dispute, mountain pine beetle infestation in British Columbia and high energy costs.
“We’ve had to reinvent ourselves – to become leaner, meaner and greener. Unlike some sectors, we have already tightened our belts, invested heavily in new technologies and adapted our operations and products to address environmental concerns globally,” says Mr. Lazar.
“We have experience in how to handle tough economic times and excellent ideas for going forward. And bail-outs aren’t the answer. Instead, we need the federal government to tap the experience of the forestry sector to think beyond the quick fix and act aggressively to ensure the economic conditions exist for the industry to be competitive and for hundreds of Canadian communities to stay alive” says Mr. Lazar.
“Canada cannot afford to waste this economic crisis by thinking short term. Canada has a valuable, renewable resource in our forests that will be in greater and greater demand as world populations expand and Canadians need to be ready,” says Lazar.
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FPAC is the voice of Canada’s wood, pulp and paper producers nationally and internationally in government, trade and environmental affairs. Canada’s forest industry is an $80-billion dollar a year industry that represents over 2% of Canada’s GDP. The industry is one of Canada’s largest employers, operating in over 300 Canadian communities and providing nearly 900,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country.
For more information, contact:
Forest Products Association of Canada