OTTAWA, June 1, 2017 /CNW/ - Canada's forest industry sustains hundreds of thousands of good, middle-class jobs in communities across our country. Many families depend on the industry's continued success and our government continues to fight vigorously to defend the interests of Canadian softwood lumber producers.
Today, the Honourable Jim Carr, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade, announced $867 million in measures to support forest industry workers and communities affected by U.S. measures targeting softwood lumber.
This includes federal loans and loan guarantees to complement provincial efforts for viable Canadian companies. Export Development Canada (EDC) will make commercial financing and risk management solutions — including loans and loan guarantees — valued at up to $500 million available to assist viable forestry companies. The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) will make $105 million in commercial financing available to help eligible forestry companies in the short and medium term. Funding for further loan guarantees may be considered by the Government in the future to address changing market conditions.
The Government's support also includes investments to diversify forest products and markets, to increase the industry's resilience to these unfair trade actions and promote its long-term health.
Additional measures announced today include more than $260 million in new funding to:
- support efforts to expand overseas markets and promote the diversification of Canadian wood products beyond those targeted by U.S. duties on softwood lumber;
- help Indigenous communities and organizations improve the performance of their forest sector initiatives;
- provide a temporary extension of the maximum period for Work-Sharing agreements from 38 to 76 weeks in order to reduce layoffs; and
- expand supports to help affected workers upgrade their skills and transition to new opportunities.
Today's announcement demonstrates the Government's commitment to take quick action and its overarching strategy to target new markets around the globe in a concerted effort to enhance trade and market diversification for Canadian wood and wood products as part of the clean-growth economy. Federal Cabinet ministers have recently travelled to the U.K., continental Europe and Asia, including China, to promote these measures and Minister Carr will travel to China with a delegation of Canadian forest industry representatives in early June to build on that success.
These actions defend the interests of Canadians against the U.S. Department of Commerce's imposition of countervailing duties on Canadian softwood lumber and build upon recent efforts made to ensure the continued growth and vibrancy of this sector.
The Government of Canada continues to forcefully press our American counterparts to rescind this unfair and unwarranted trade action while remaining confident that a negotiated settlement is not only possible, but in the best interests of both countries.
- In 2016, the forest industry accounted for $22 billion of Canada's GDP.
- In 2015, Canada's forest industry directly employed more than 200,000 Canadians, including 9,500 jobs in Indigenous communities.
- More than 170 rural municipalities have a significant portion of their income generated by the forest sector, and there are over 600 mills producing softwood lumber in Canada.
"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. We are prepared to take further action, including additional loan guarantees, to address changing market conditions."
Canada's Minister of Natural Resources
Backgrounder Softwood Lumber Action Plan
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SOURCE Natural Resources Canada
For further information: Alexandre Deslongchamps, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Natural Resources, 343-292-6837; Media Relations, Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa, 343-292-6100