Support for Canada's Forest Industry and Communities the Right Thing to Do - for Now - Say Steelworkers Union Leaders

OTTAWA, June 1, 2017 /CNW/ - The Chair of the United Steelworkers Wood Council, representing thousands of workers in the forest sector, said today's announcement of $867 million to relieve the crisis caused by punitive U.S. tariffs is the right thing to do, but not the only thing.

"These measures must be made effective immediately and must not be seen as subsidies to industry," said USW Wood Council Chair Bob Matters. "This must be about protecting the viability of communities and the workers who depend on forestry, a cornerstone of the Canadian economy in a globalized world. Long-term stability is key."

Matters said loans and loan guarantees are for forestry companies to allow them to pay tariffs without having to use their operating funds.

"It means employers can operate normally until a resolution is found between our governments on a truly fair softwood lumber agreement," he said. "We hope that this will help to stop the current layoffs and prevent further layoffs over the next few months."

USW Canadian National Director Ken Neumann said market transition funds of $160 million are essential to help workers during uncertain times, as communities wait for further announcements and changes to tariffs.

"Workers should not be made the victims of the failure of governments to reach a deal that is fair and just," Neumann said. "Our members have been the first to pay the price for an unnecessary trade battle."

He said the announcement of $9.5 million in Employment Insurance support will be used to help workers who are struggling now.

However, Matters and Neumann said the provisions announced today will support forest-dependent communities in the short term.

"We need long-term commitments to workers and families, alongside a sustainable industry," Neumann said.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information: Bob Matters, USW Wood Council Chair, 604-996-4476, bmatters@usw.ca; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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