QUEEN’S PARK – Last week, AbitibiBowater announced that as part of the restructuring process, it has entered into agreements with the governments of both Quebec and Ontario with regard to the company’s pension obligations. This request to help them exit bankruptcy protection has the support of the union, the workers and the company. This agreement will become effective if and when AbiBow fully emerges from creditor protection, and that seems more likely every day.
There’s been a tremendous amount of good economic news in Thunder Bay and northwestern Ontario. Recent announcements have meant hundreds of jobs at Bombardier, roughly 200 jobs at the Lac des Iles mine and around 340 jobs at Terrace Bay Pulp. There’s also the conversion of the two coal plants in my riding, which is expected to result in hundreds of construction jobs in addition to all the jobs that will be saved by keeping the plants in operation. And the list goes on.
Now with the news from AbiBow, we see hope and excitement at another major employer in Thunder Bay. It is very possible that the company, should it fully exit creditor protection, will go forward with a $50-million condensing turbine project.
Many will remember that at AbiBow in Fort Frances, our government provided a $22-million grant for a cogen there. Our government remains committed to helping with a similar initiative in Thunder Bay. Not only could this create another major construction project for northwestern Ontario, but it would also represent a long-term commitment to AbiBow’s operation in Thunder Bay and its roughly 450 employees.
This project could make the mill more energy efficient and allow them to sell excess power back to the grid, and along with our government’s energy relief for large industrials in northern Ontario, make AbiBow’s Thunder Bay operations extremely competitive for years to come.