MONTREAL, Nov. 18, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - The Quebec Forest Industry Council (QFIC) and the senior executives of six major forest companies today strongly urged the government to make a key priority of the issues and challenges of competitiveness that are vital to maintaining the long-term viability of the entire forest industry. They thus invited the government of Quebec to take advantage of the Rendez-vous de la forêt québécoise [provincial forest sector gathering] taking place this week in Saint-Félicien to lay the foundations of a new partnership to support the development of a green economy. Steps in that direction would include the creation of a Strategic Forum on the competitiveness and transformation of the forest industry as well as the establishment of programs to support the transformation of the industry by using Quebec's energy surpluses.
Competitiveness: major forest companies call on the government to offer support
Concerned by the need to save thousands of jobs in Quebec, six senior executives of some of the province's largest forest companies gathered in Montreal to make the government aware of the importance of the industry's competitiveness-related challenges and to rally around the position of the QFIC. Mr. Louis Brassard, Chief Executive Officer of Tafisa Canada, Mr. Richard Garneau, President and Chief Executive Officer of Resolute Forest Products, Mr. James N. Hogg, President and CEO of Uniboard, Mr. James Lopez, Chief Executive Officer and President of Tembec, Mr. Yvon Pelletier, President of the dissolving pulp division of Fortress Paper, and Mr. Charles Tardif, Vice President - Procurement and Business Development at Maibec, were among the public figures in attendance who pointed out that Quebec is the area of North America where the cost of fibre is highest and that in the last ten years, the annual allowable cut has decreased by nearly 40%, thereby fostering a business environment that has eroded the competitive position of companies.
"A leader in the green economy thanks to our innovative businesses, our industry has been developing new processes which, among other things, make it possible to use renewable materials to make products that can be substituted for products made using non-renewable resources. We have also achieved considerable gains in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, more than 90% of public forest lands are now covered by environmental certification. We call on the government to support our efforts to turn this renewable resource to good account, in particular by establishing conditions that will enable us to remain competitive," declared QFIC board chairman Mr. Michel Lessard, who is also Vice-President - Forest Resource Management at Tembec.
"Rendez-vous" is a must-attend event
In the view of QFIC President and CEO Mr. André Tremblay, the forthcoming "Rendez-vous de la forêt québécoise" will present the government with an excellent opportunity for announcing some concrete commitments concerning the forest industry. "The challenges facing the forest industry are complex and cannot be discussed piecemeal. If we really want to make progress on the issues relating to the green economy in Quebec, we will need a Strategic Forum having the ability to identify the most effective measures for improving the competitiveness of Quebec businesses in the forest sector," he explained.
Today, the industry leaders who gathered together went further and urged the government to use energy surpluses to support the transformation of forest industry businesses. "We suggest that the government convert words into action and use its electricity surpluses to promote the development of a renewable resource through energy efficiency programs or the support of investment in the modernization of our mills and plants, thereby enhancing their competitiveness," concluded Mr. Tremblay.
The industry hereby reaches out to the government to define a new win-win partnership with the objective of maintaining the competitiveness of the forest industry and thereby helping to position Quebec as a world leader in the green economy.
About the QFIC
The QFIC is the voice of Québec's forest industry. It represents the interests of companies in the sectors of softwood and hardwood lumber, veneer, pulp, paper, paperboard and boards, as well as engineered wood manufactures. The QFIC numbers more than 98 regular members operating in the softwood and hardwood lumber, veneer, pulp, paper, cardboard and panel sectors of Quebec, as well as 150 associate members. Each year, these companies generate $15.9 billion in business and close to $3 billion in wages and benefits, of which nearly $1.5 billion is returned to governments in the form of taxes paid by companies and workers.
SOURCE: Quebec Forest Industry Council
For further information:
Director, Communications and Public Affairs
Quebec Forest Industry Council (QFIC)
418 657-7916, ext. 411