Most want gov't aid for forest industry - New poll comes as companies face immediate debt crisis

    OTTAWA, Oct. 7 /CNW Telbec/ - The majority of Canadians in all regions of
the country agree or somewhat agree that governments should provide financial
aid to keep more forest companies from closing.
    The results of a new poll by Nanos Research for the Communications,
Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) come as major forest companies
in Canada face an immediate debt crisis.
    "Canada's forest industry is the major victim of the mortgage crisis that
has devastated the U.S. housing market," says CEP President Dave Coles. "In
the first six months of 2008, the Canadian industry has lost $1.2 billion. In
2009, major forest companies must refinance large debts, including
Abitibi-Bowater's $1.1 billion debt and Catalyst Paper's $350 million debt."
    The poll showed that 60% of Canadians agreed or somewhat agreed that
federal and provincial governments should financially support the forest
industry to prevent more companies from failing. Just 32.1% disagreed or
somewhat disagreed with government support for forestry companies.
    "Canadians understand the importance of a healthy forestry industry to
many communities across the country," adds Mr. Coles. "It is becoming
increasingly Stephen Harper's 'laissez-faire' attitude on the economy is not
shared by Canadians. The U.S. government has taken action - why has the
Canadian government done nothing?"
    The president of Canada's largest forest union stressed that "this is not
about bailing out the bad debts of forest companies, but about calling on the
federal government to ensure stability in our financial system so that forest
companies can receive the credit they need."
    Canadians are in agreement with government support for the forestry
industry across demographic, regional and party preference lines. Agreement is
highest for government action in Quebec (73.8% agree or somewhat agree), women
(65.4% agree or somewhat agree), Canadians aged 18-29 (63.5% agree or somewhat
agree) and Bloc Quebecois supporters (83.3% agree or somewhat agree).
    "We call on all federal parties to bring forward a detailed plan before
October 14, including financial support, to help revive Canada's forestry
industry," said Coles. "Canadians need to know where the parties stand on
supporting Canadian jobs."
    Approximately 300,000 Canadians earn their living from our greatest
renewable resource - the forests. Three times that many, according to economic
studies, rely on the income those jobs produce to maintain their standard of
living. Yet, in the last five years, 32,000 forest workers have lost their
jobs as hundreds of pulp, paper and sawmills have shut down, turning once
thriving communities into ghost towns.

For further information:

For further information: Dave Coles, (613) 299-5628

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Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

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