Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr (NRCAN)

VIDEO: Ottawa’s lumber industry aid not subsidy, ministers say

$867 million includes loans, training, work sharing

The federal government’s latest assistance package for the forest industry is designed not to generate further complaints about subsidies after the U.S. imposed border duties averaging 20 per cent on Canadian lumber exports, federal officials say.

The $867 million package includes loans and loan guarantees as well as extensions of federal work sharing programs to preserve employment, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said.

Carr, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and International Trade Minister Francois-Phillippe Champagne announced the assistance in Ottawa Thursday.

It includes federal loans and loan guarantees of up to $500 million to assist viable forest industry companies, with $105 million in commercial financing from the Business Development Bank of Canada.

Another $260 million is provided for temporary extension of work-sharing agreements from 38 to 76 weeks to reduce layoffs, expand support for skills upgrading for affected forest industry workers, and to help indigenous communities improve performance of their forest operations.

“This action plan delivers on our pledge to take swift and reasonable action to defend our softwood lumber industry and charts a stronger future for the workers, families and communities that depend on it,” Carr said. “We are prepared to take further action, including additional loan guarantees, to address changing market conditions.”

Susan Yurkovich, president of the B.C. Lumber Trade Council, praised the federal assistance package.

“This package is a prudent response that can provide both immediate support for workers and communities if required, along with enabling additional investments in longer-term opportunities for the sector,” Yurkovich said. “We particularly appreciate the investment in expanding markets for Canada’s high-quality forest products overseas, which will help to further diversify our markets.”

The U.S. Commerce Department is upholding a U.S. industry complaint, for the fifth time in the past 30 years, that Canadian lumber is subsidized by timber cutting rates charged by provinces on Crown land. The latest complaint also accuses Canadian producers of “dumping” lumber in the U.S. market at artificially low prices.

Carr and Champagne said the loans will be made at commercial rates and do not constitute a subsidy. They are designed to complement provincial programs in provinces such as B.C., the source of about half of all Canadian lumber exports to the U.S.

During the B.C. election campaign, Premier Christy Clark promised that the province would buy lumber from B.C. producers and stockpile it for building projects around the province, to help the industry through the latest dispute. That proposal is in limbo as the NDP and B.C. Green parties look to topple the B.C. Liberal government this month.

NDP leader John Horgan said as premier he would personally go to Washington D.C. to represent B.C.’s interest, but he has confidence in former federal minister and industry executive David Emerson, retained by the B.C. Liberal government to represent B.C. in lumber talks.

With the U.S. also preparing to open up the North American Free Trade Agreement, Freeland said softwood lumber has historically been dealt with outside NAFTA. The broader trade negotiations don’t begin until mid-August.

Discussions with U.S. trade officials on softwood lumber are ongoing and recent discussions between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump on trade in general have been positive, Freeland said.

Just Posted

10 tonnes of plastic cleared from North Coast beaches

Living Oceans Society spent three days sorting the marine debris

Court orders protestors to leave fish farm site

“The adjournment allows us to compile our evidence and present it in 30 days.”

NISS Students find out what journalism is all about

Four students visit the Gazette for a work experience

Disability Tax Credits in jeopardy for Type 1 diabetics

“It’s something I deal with every day of my life.”

Port Hardy Residents still waiting for Telus Fibre Optic

Mansourati was unable to say who Telus would be contracting to finish the ninth fibre serving area.

100,000 bulbs shine bright for Lights of Hope

St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver launched its annual campaign to raise funds for equipment, research

‘I will now live in consistent fear’: Allan Schoenborn granted escorted leaves

The Merritt man was deemed not criminally responsible in the killing of his three children in 2008

Hammy the deer dodges conservation officers in Prince Rupert

The famous Prince Rupert hammock deer maintains his purple threads

‘No shirt, no service, no Canada’

Shirtless Tacoma man arrested after Canadian border officials say they found meth in rental vehicle

Nasty note on B.C. windshield sparks online outrage

Vernon’s Bailey McDonald is using a painful experience to start conversation about invisible illness

Port Alberni resident robbed with weapon, thieves steal thousands

Most of the stolen currency is in Canadian $100 bills. The police investigation is ongoing.

Single vehicle crash on Old Island Highway sends driver to hospital

A single-vehicle crash just north of Courtenay early Friday morning sent one… Continue reading

Federal funding to combat guns, gangs and opioid crisis

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said illicit drugs are often main cause of guns, gangs violence

INTERACTIVE MAP: Follow the 2017 Tour de Rock

Follow the Tour de Rock, as they pedal more than 1,000 kilometres fundraising to combat paediatric cancer

Most Read