Budget gives forest workers short end of stick

    OTTAWA, Jan. 27 /CNW Telbec/ - "Today's budget gives the short end of the
stick to an industry in crisis," says Communications, Energy and Paperworkers
Union President Dave Coles. "There is no real plan for revitalization of the
forest sector, no initiatives to provide older workers with the option of
retiring in dignity, and ineffective EI reforms that will not likely get
younger workers through 2009."
    "These are half-hearted and inadequate responses to an immediate and
urgent crisis," says Mr. Coles. "The $5 billion Business Credit Availability
Program is totally inadequate. According to RBC Capital Markets, major
Canadian forest companies alone must refinance $1.2 billion in 2009, and $1.9
billion in 2010."
    The budget also proposes $170 million to promote forest products, and to
support Research and Development, and the development of biomass technology.
Mr. Coles points out that this is a mere .5% of the government's stimulus
    "The $1 billion 'community trust fund' is essentially a re-run of last
year's movie. This is not a sectoral program for forestry. The 'flexible'
guidelines mean that the funds will be used differently by each province for a
wide range of projects, including tourism and community development.
    "It's cruel to tell forest workers that there is $1 billion for their
industry, when those funds are really for everything and anything under the
    "We cannot believe Stephen Harper, because he clearly does not believe in
Canada's forest industry.
    "I am saddened but not surprised by today's budget. How could we possibly
have expected meaningful economic stimulus for our troubled economy from a
Prime Minister who, only two short months ago, was in total denial."
    We urge Mr. Ignatieff and his caucus to vote non-confidence in this
government and to work with Mr. Layton and Mr. Duceppe to support forestry and
manufacturing jobs.

    CEP represents more than 60,000 forestry workers, as well as workers in
other key sectors of Canada's economy, including energy, telecommunications,
media and printing.
    There are 300,000 direct and indirect jobs in the forest sector and over
300 forest- dependent communities in Canada.

For further information:

For further information: Dave Coles, (613) 299-5628; Michelle Walsh, CEP
Communications Director, (613) 230-5800, ext. 222, (613) 858-9144

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Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

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