The latest announcement to close a wood products company in British Columbia threatens the jobs of 800 employees in what the province’s forestry minister has recognized as a “fix” to the industry.
Teal-Jones Group Vice President Gerrie Kotze said Tuesday that 300 lumber contractors on Vancouver Island and the Fraser Valley are immediately out of work and 500 people employed at the two lumber plants, The shaker and shingle company in Surrey will likely be out of work in a matter of weeks as wood supplies run out.
In recent months, British Columbia logging companies, citing low lumber prices, high operating costs and dwindling lumber supplies, have announced closures or cuts in more than two dozen locations. factories that have resulted in hundreds of lost jobs and shaken up communities.
“It’s an indefinite shutdown, and obviously we intend to restart these operations as soon as possible,” Kotze said. “It could be painful. It is of course impossible to predict when we will see a more sustained recovery in lumber prices. The sooner the better for us.
He said he had seen reports from industry watchers predicting a recovery where cutting costs would make it economical to restart logging and sawmills, but not until the middle of next year.
Stumpage fees are fees that businesses or individuals pay when they harvest timber on Crown land and the amount of stumpage fees charged is based on the volumes of timber, species and qualities declared, a declared the BC Ministry of Forests.
Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said he offered his condolences to the hundreds of workers who lost their jobs, as well as their families and communities affected by the cuts.
He said government support teams and recycling experts have been dispatched to communities.
“The industry is correcting itself and that is what is happening right now,” Donaldson said. “The industry needs a fix and it is happening now. In the meantime, we are making sure we do everything we can to support the workers and communities who are going to be affected by these changes.”
He said government changes to reduce the export of raw logs and increase the harvest of what the forest industry considers residual timber left on the forest floor after harvesting operations will eventually ensure more timber for use. manufacturers in British Columbia.
“Overall, we are determined to turn the structural issues around, especially in the coastal sector,” Donaldson said. “We are determined to do this and we believe these changes are long overdue.”
Opposition Liberal forestry critic John Rustad said in a statement government policies are killing the industry and leading to more layoffs and closures.
“Forestry jobs are being driven to the United States by this NDP government and every day that goes by without real government action jeopardizes any chance of recovery,” he said.
Susan Yurkovich, president of the Council of Forest Industries, said the industry is grappling with high costs, fiber supply shortages and tougher global competitors. She said government and industry must work together to get through this difficult time.
“We are looking at what we can do to make sure we are a jurisdiction that can compete,” Yurkovich said. “Teal-Jones’ competitors are not on the road, they are all over the world. We are going through a change and we need to find ways to make sure our industry can compete with the world.”
She said forestry companies need secure access to reasonably priced fiber to make a difference.
Kotze said Teal-Jones would accept any support to help revive the industry.
“This is not a decision we have taken lightly, and obviously at this point it is not economical to connect to the coast,” he said.
West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. on Monday announced it would introduce flexible hours of operation at five of its British Columbia sawmills, resulting in production cuts of up to 25%.