Government of Canada Announces Task Force on Softwood Lumber

OTTAWA, Feb. 22, 2017 /CNW/ - Canada's forest sector is vital to a strong Canadian economy. Enhanced collaboration between federal and provincial governments will help to keep our forest sector, and the workers and communities that depend on it, strong and resilient.

Today, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Jim Carr, announced the creation of the Federal–Provincial Task Force on Softwood Lumber, which will share information and analysis to understand potential impacts and assess how to address the needs of affected workers and communities. Minister Carr will chair the domestic task force, while Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, leads softwood engagement with the United States.

There has been ongoing engagement with the provinces, territories and industry over the past two years as the Government of Canada has sought to negotiate a new deal with the U.S. on softwood lumber. This is the next step in our strategic approach to this issue, which strengthens our ongoing efforts on a priority file for the Government. Canada believes that a negotiated agreement that brings predictability and stability to industry on both sides of the border is the best possible outcome. The Government will continue to work closely with provinces, territories and the softwood lumber industry to vigorously defend the interests of the middle-class Canadians who depend on the industry. This work will continue outside of the task force.

The new Federal–Provincial Task Force on Softwood Lumber will assess current federal and provincial programming and ensure coordination of government initiatives to promote innovation, market diversification and transformation of the forest sector.  

The forest sector is an important part of Canada's economy. It directly employs more than 200,000 people across Canada. Softwood lumber exports were valued at $8.6 billion in 2015 — close to 70 percent of which was exported to the U.S.

Quick Facts

  • In the United States, where demand for lumber exceeds what domestic mills can supply, housing and other industries rely on Canada for stable, predictable access to quality products.
  • The 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA), which provided stability and predictability for industry on both sides of the border, expired on October 12, 2015.
  • The new Federal–Provincial Task Force on Softwood Lumber will coordinate current programs and assess domestic initiatives. Negotiations for a new softwood lumber agreement continue to be led by Global Affairs Canada, in close collaboration with provinces, territories, industry and other stakeholders.

Quotes

"Canada's forest and natural resource sectors are vital to employment in communities across the country. This new task force will work together to strengthen the long-term success of the forest sector through innovation and diversifying markets for Canadian forest products."

Jim Carr
Canada's Minister of Natural Resources

"Softwood lumber is a priority for our government. We are committed to promoting and vigorously defending the interests of workers and producers from across Canada. My colleagues and I will continue to work very closely with the softwood industry, its workers, the provinces and territories."

Chrystia Freeland
Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs

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SOURCE Natural Resources Canada

For further information: Contacts: Alexandre Deslongchamps, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Natural Resources, 343-292-6837; Media Relations, Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa, 343-292-6100

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