The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) today laid out five urgent priorities that the federal government must address in its upcoming budget if it wants to secure the forest products industry – that provides 12% of Canada’s manufacturing GDP, more jobs than auto and banking combined and is the lifeblood of 300 Canadian communities – as a cornerstone of the Canadian economy.

“Government can’t let the current financial meltdown become an industrial meltdown. Inaction isn’t an option. What we need is smart spending and bolder economic policies to make sure our industry not only perseveres but is able to capitalize on the investments it has already made – modernizing its mills, diversifying its markets and greening its product,” says Avrim Lazar, President and CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC).

To help secure the industry’s future and that of its 300,000 Canadian workers, FPAC has identified five actions the government needs to take now:

  • Ensure forest manufacturers have access to reasonable credit
  • Provide tax incentives for investment and innovation
  • Invest in R&D, market development and product promotion
  • Help spur the transformation to bio-energy
  • Extend the EI Work-Sharing Program

“While we understand that it’s primarily up to industry to adapt to changing economic conditions, for this to happen it’s imperative governments act urgently to improve the business climate so that we don’t unnecessarily lose ground and jobs. It’s the role of government to aggressively set the stage for Canada to come out of this latest crisis in strong competitive shape,” says Lazar.

“And that’s why FPAC is calling on the government to keep credit markets working, to make sure there’s a tax structure that attracts new capital investments in Canadian industry and Canadian jobs and to fund technological innovation and advancements in bio-energy,” he says.

FPAC has also underscored the fact that global population growth and stronger environmental standards by governments and consumers worldwide will mean a huge increase in demand for Canadian forest products down the road. Canadian forest manufacturers have surpassed Kyoto targets ten times over, they harvest legally and regenerate promptly and have more third-party certified forest than anywhere else on the planet.

“With the right government action combined with strategic investments by industry itself, the Canadian forest products sector could be well positioned to emerge from these challenging times more technologically savvy, more environmentally sound and poised to prosper well into the future,” says Lazar.

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, and 12% of Canada’s manufacturing GDP. The industry is one of Canada’s largest employers, operating in over 300 Canadian communities and providing nearly 750,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country.

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For more information, contact:

Ottawa:
Fiona McDonald
Communications Coordinator
Forest Products Association of Canada
613-563-1441 x318
fmcdonald@fpac.ca

Vancouver:
Laura Ballance
Laura Ballance Media Group
(604) 871-4451
(604) 726-8350 (cell)
Laura@LBMG.ca

Montréal:
Julie Lepsetz
Communications MECA
Director, Client Services
(514) 288-8500 est : 233
jlepsetz@meca.ca

PROVINCIAL STATISTICAL DATA ON THE INDUSTRY

The forest products industry is one of Canada’s largest employers, operating in over 300 Canadian communities and providing 750,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country – almost 5% of all jobs in Canada.

British Columbia:
In British Columbia, it represents over 84,000 direct jobs, over $22.3 billion in annual revenues, and is the foundation of British Columbia’s economy, accounting for 7% of employment and 15% of all economic activity.

Quebec:
In Quebec, it represents over 83,000 direct jobs, $23.7 billion in annual revenues, and a third of Quebec’s exports.

Ontario:
In Ontario, it represents 66,800 direct jobs, $18.3 billion in annual revenues, and exports of $5.7 billion in wood products.

Alberta:
In Alberta, it represents over 21,800 direct jobs, $5.8 billion in annual revenues, and $1.9 billion to the provincial balance of trade.

Atlantic Canada: (NB, NS, NFLD, PEI)
NB – $4.1 billion, 16,500 employed
NS – $0.9 billion, 8,400 employed
NFLD – $0.4 billion, 2,800 employed
PEI – $6.6 million, 800 employed

In Atlantic Canada, it represents 28,500 direct jobs, and over $5.5 billion in annual revenues.

Prairie Provinces: (AB, MB, SK)
AB – $5.8 billion, 21,800 employed
MB – $1.4 billion, 7,200 employed
SK – $1.4 billion, 2,400 employed

In the Prairie Provinces, it represents 31,400 direct jobs, and $8.6 billion in annual revenues.

Source: Natural Resources Canada, 2007