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Support forest communities: B.C. forests minister pledges support after Mackenzie pulp mill curtailment

Pulp mill will be curtailed at the end of June
B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson spoke at the Mackenzie Matters rally (via Kyle Balzer)

The B.C. minister of forests, lands, natural resources operations and rural development is expressing his sadness of the announcement that the Mackenzie Pulp Mill will be curtailed at the end of this month. 

Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Doug Donaldson released a statement yesterday evening (June 11), vowing to be there for those losing their jobs. 

"I was saddened to learn Paper Excellence is curtailing its Mackenzie pulp mill operations," Donaldson said. "My heart goes out to the 253 directly impacted workers, their families and the entire Mackenzie community during this difficult time.

"Many in the community, including Mayor Joan Atkinson, have worked tirelessly to keep this operation running. It is my understanding that Paper Excellence has said the curtailment is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as reduced fibre availability due to sawmill curtailments in the region."

Donaldson also reminded those affected there are supports in place through government programs. 

"Our first priority is to support forest communities, workers and families, and we will be reaching out to UNIFOR and Paper Excellence to determine what supports are needed. All employees impacted by the closure of Paper Excellence's Mackenzie pulp mill are eligible to access supports and services under our government's $69-million forestry worker support fund. Supports under this fund include job placements, retirement bridging and retraining."

Paper Excellence Canada, who’s owned and operated the mill since 2010, announced the curtailment yesterday, citing the negative impacts of COVID-19 on the industry’s market as the reasons for the shut down.

The company says despite its efforts to keep its employees on the job during the worldwide pandemic, the fibre shortage has affected the mill’s ‘competitiveness’ in Mackenzie, northern B.C. and the entire province.

“This shortage was exacerbated by recent curtailment of sawmills in the Mackenzie region dramatically reducing economic fibre availability,” reads a Paper Excellence Canada release.

More than 250 employees will be out of a job at the end of June.

“The company continues to believe Canada will be a leader in the pulp and paper industry and remains committed to its long-term investment here.”