The Forest Products Association of Canada today applauded changes to the Employment Insurance Work-sharing Program announced by the Government of Canada.

Work-Sharing is an adjustment program designed to help employers and workers avoid temporary layoffs when there is a reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond the control of the employer. The measure provides income support to workers eligible for Employment Insurance benefits who are willing to work a temporarily reduced work-week.

“The forest products sector has been particularly hard-hit by the global economic downturn. We expect the forest sector to make a strong recovery, but this will take time. In the meantime, extending the Work-sharing program will  keep thousands of forest-sector employees gainfully employed until market conditions improve, help workers retain valuable skills, position companies to take full advantage of the eventual economic recovery and lessen the impact of layoffs and mill closures on communities.” said Avrim Lazar, President and CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada.

The changes announced this morning include extending benefits to qualifying companies and employees, in all sectors of the economy, to a maximum of 52 weeks. The changes also allow companies with existing or expired agreements to apply for a new 52 week agreement. The changes are retroactive to February 1, 2009 and remain in effect until April 4, 2010.

“These changes to the program announced this morning are positive for forest communities and families. The industry applauds the government for having acted so quickly to implement the changes to the Employment Insurance program outlined in the budget in a way that maximizes their impact for firms, workers and communities who have been the hardest hit by this recession.” said 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, 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 700,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country.

For more information, contact:

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