DRYDEN – Updated – “The McGuinty Liberals have handed out millions of public dollars without iron-clad job guarantees, and workers, their families, and the entire community pay the price,” charges Sarah Campbell, the NDP MPP and NDP Critic for the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Campbell says “The government should be held accountable for the loss of jobs in the forestry industry in northern Ontario. Terrace Bay Pulp, of the Buchanan group of companies, is now for sale, following a three month suspension of operations which makes it unlikely for the company to re-open at the end of January as initially announced”.
“This is another troubling development for the northern forestry industry, for the 350 workers affected, and their families. What is worse is that this closure is a direct result of the Liberal government mismanagement of the industry,” said Campbell.
“When Terrace Bay Pulp shut down due to a boiler explosion, McGuinty should have been front and center to ensure the mill re-opened. Without this mill, not only will the town of Terrace Bay lose jobs but so will a number of other communities in the North,” said Campbell. “The province has not been active enough to ensure this mill re-opens under current or new ownership.”
“Buchanan has pocketed more than $30-million for road building and more than $22-million for its Terrace Bay operations from the Liberal government,” charged Campbell. “A further $4.8-million was given to Terrace Bay Pulp. In all, the McGuinty Liberals have handed out more than $80-million to the Buchanan Group. Terrace Bay will be the last of the Buchanan group of companies to close”.
“Once again an economic driver for the region is at risk and instead of taking action the McGuinty Liberals are just standing by while jobs and entire communities are being decimated,” continued Campbell, adding, “As with many other aspects of the industry there is a lack of vision in looking at the big picture and a lack of concern for workers who should be at the top of the agenda for job creation.”
Minister of Natural Resources, and Thunder Bay Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle states, “These are challenging economic times and there is no question the forest sector has felt the impact, but as Ontario’s economy continues to show signs of growth and recovery, so does Ontario’s forestry sector”.
“We took action by initiating a wood supply competition”, continues the Minister, “The largest in the province’s history and our government is moving forward with a modernized forest tenure system to develop new markets. Companies are emerging from financial restructuring and are investing in Ontario, companies such as Resolute Forest Products, who are investing millions in communities like Ignace and Iroquois Falls, and True North Hardwood Plywood in Cochrane which is in the process of reopening to put Ontario’s forestry workers back to work”.
“In addition to financial support we have also provided support in the form of wood supply allocations to companies like Rentech’s Olympiad Liquid Fuels Plant in the White River area and Millson Forestry Service Inc. in the Timmins area. And while we are disappointed to hear that the Buchanan organization has filed for CCAA protection. Our focus will be to act in the best interests of the community of Terrace Bay as well as the tax payers of this province to return the mill to operation”.
“Our government has worked tirelessly to restore the competitiveness of Ontario’s forestry sector and we will continue to do so,” concluded Gravelle.