Conservative Government's Extension of Softwood Lumber Agreement Adds Insult to Injury: Steelworkers

TORONTO, Jan. 24, 2012 /CNW/ - The Conservative government's extension of the Canada-US Softwood Lumber Agreement is the latest betrayal in a long list of actions that have damaged the Canadian forest industry says United Steelworkers (USW) Canadian Director Ken Neumann.  

"Extending the softwood lumber agreement, while failing to even attempt to address many of the problems it has worsened, or even consult with forestry workers who have been impacted by job loss in the sector, adds insult to injury to an industry that has been hard hit in recent years," says Neumann.  

"According to the Forest Sector Council, the Canadian Forest Industry has lost about 100,000 jobs between 2004 and 2010. Already faced with a lack of capital investment in operations, sawmills in British Columbia and across Canada have seen their competitive advantage chipped away by the government's softwood lumber agreement," added Steve Hunt, USW District Director for Western Canada.

Since being signed in 2006, the agreement has imposed a 15% border tax on Canadian companies exporting lumber to the United States. In addition, the agreement's so-called "surge mechanism" discourages operational investment by penalizing all lumber producers in a region that exceeds its U.S. bound lumber quota, thereby encouraging productivity enhancing investment in non-Canadian sawmills.  

"The decline of forest industry across this country has devastated communities, hurt families and led to thousands of job losses. By extending an agreement that makes an already challenging situation even worse, the Conservative government has demonstrated where their priorities lie - and it's not with Canadian workers or communities," Neumann says.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information:

Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951
Steve Hunt, USW District 3 Director, 604-816-2554
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, bgallagher@usw.ca


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