MONTREAL – Leader’s Ledger – Joe Oliver the federal Minister of Natural Resources spoke at PaperWeek Canada 2012 in Montreal on Wednesday, February 1, 2012.
Here is the text of the Minister’s remarks:
Merci, Patrice and thank you to all for joining me today. Il me fait bien plaisir de me retrouver parmi les gens qui sont en train de réinventer une industrie. Cette industrie qui est au cœur de l’histoire du Canada. Je veux reconnaître la vision, les efforts et les sacrifices des gens qui ont maintenu le cap dans une période très, très difficile.
I also want to acknowledge the presence of our visitors from across the country, as well as those who may be here from the United States and Europe.
Our forest sector has always been based on international trade and this will not change. More than ever, our activities will be conducted with partners from around the world. And I expect the variety of our products will grow significantly over the next few years.
Canada’s Forest Sector
I don’t need to remind people in this room of the difficulties in the forestry sector in the last few years. The industry has been thrown huge challenges and obstacles — reduced demand for paper, a Canadian dollar that went from US$0.62 only a decade ago to near parity as we speak, and a housing market in the U.S. that is not yet showing any significant signs of rebounding.
We should never underestimate the sector’s resilience, the excellence of our forest products and its continued importance for Canada’s economy.
In 2010, Canada’s forest sector contributed 22.5 billion dollars to our GDP. The quality of our wood fibre is the heart of our continued success. Northern bleached softwood kraft pulp remains the global standard for quality. In fact, our exports have almost fully recovered after a sharp 25 percent decline between 2008 and 2009. Today we are 6 percent away from 2008 peak export levels.
This encouraging trend does not remove the challenges that still lie ahead for the sector, for the workers and for the communities that depend on the industry. While the recent numbers are providing hopeful signs, no one in this room certainly is complacent. In fact, the Canadian forest industry has spared no effort in the past few years to reinvent itself and to develop innovative products with greater value-added — in other words, to become a next-generation industry.
This is a process that does not happen overnight. Transformation is now a continuous process. In fact, change might well be the only constant in this industry.
I am delighted to see that this year’s edition of PaperWeek Canada has a large segment devoted to the next generation of processes and wood-based products. Canada’s forest industry is now at the forefront of innovation, and our government has shown its enthusiasm for supporting your work as we look to the future.
Partenariat avec le secteur
Je veux m’arrêter sur l’engagement de notre gouvernement envers le secteur forestier. Globalement, notre action sur l’économie vise à réduire le déficit, à rétablir l’équilibre budgétaire, et à mettre en place les mesures nécessaires pour favoriser la relance et la prospérité.
The successful transformation of the forest sector is based on a strong partnership that involves players from both industry and government. Our government has helped to create market opportunities abroad, defend the industry’s interests with our foreign trading allies and foster innovation.
Significantly, just last week our government announced a two-year extension of the Softwood Lumber Agreement with the United States. This is providing stability and predictability in terms of access to our number one market.
Le gouvernement du Canada a un rôle de premier plan à jouer dans le renouvellement du secteur forestier. Nous sommes bien conscients de l’importance d’investir dans l’innovation et la technologie – en particulier dans votre secteur. Nous investissons dans la transformation du secteur en soutenant le développement et la mise en œuvre des technologies canadiennes de pointe. Nous assurons également à nos entreprises la possibilité de concurrencer sur la scène internationale.
A partnership being what it is industry has to capitalize on market opportunities and avail itself of research and development incentives. To date, I can say that participation in our programs has been beyond our expectations and that we are actually starting to see the results.
The Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program is likely the largest initiative for the forest sector in Canadian history. While our intention with this program has been to improve the environmental performance of the pulp and paper industry, the impact goes well beyond that. The Government of Canada has invested in the long-term environmental and economic performance of the pulp and paper industry in Canada, and these investments are creating a sustainable foundation from which the industry can embark on the next phase of its transformation.
The outcomes to date are significant. Mills have improved their environmental performance by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 10 percent; and projects under this program increased renewable power capacity by more than 200 megawatts, some of which is being sold into the grid. This means they have become more sustainable and more competitive. In other words, the opportunity is now there for the industry to move ahead with innovation, diversification, and a more competitive future.
L’industrie forestière a maintenant une base plus solide pour poursuivre sa transformation et se prévaloir des nombreuses possibilités de diversification, notamment dans le domaine de l’énergie renouvelable.
L’avenir passe par l’innovation
Notre gouvernement prend très au sérieux son engagement envers le processus de renouvellement du secteur forestier. Two other federal programs are supporting the sector’s second phase of its ongoing transformation: The Transformative Technologies Program and the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) program.
IFIT is sponsoring and supporting projects that implement new technologies with the goal of the commercialization of non-traditional, high-value forest products. This exciting program is serving as a catalyst for a wide variety of first-in-Canada applications and innovative technologies. It is playing a key role in enabling the forest sector’s goal of transforming and diversifying its processes, its products and its markets.
Last week, I was in Windsor, Quebec, to officially open the new CelluForce facility — the world’s first commercial-scale producer of nanocrystalline cellulose, or NCC. Our government’s investment in this project is helping bring NCC production to an industrial scale. Using Canadian technology, CelluForce is extracting NCC from wood fibre. This renewable, non-toxic wood product has almost unlimited industrial applications.
Another example of innovation is the Next Generation Sustainable Fibre being produced by Tembec at its novel pulp fibre composite material pilot plant in Témiscaming, Quebec. This composite material is destined for use in exterior structural applications. Its strength, durability and stability will make it an environmentally sound candidate as railway ties in ecologically sensitive areas just as an example. Canada’s investment in this project is generating jobs — nearly 50,000 person hours in the design and construction of the facility as well as in the manufacturing of equipment. The plant will require five full-time staff as well as replacement personnel when operating at full capacity.
Innovation can also be found in our wood-frame construction techniques and how we are incorporating this versatile material into buildings. Édifice Complan in Quebec City is the first building in this province to incorporate a one-storey wood addition onto an existing four-storey concrete and steel structure. This approach, because of its potential to be replicated in even larger buildings, could provide excellent opportunities for expanding the use of wood in non-residential buildings.
Our government is proud to invest in and work with industry to find alternative building solutions to open the doors to new applications for wood. These are exciting projects because they are likely to result in outcomes and products that could fundamentally change the industry. These are only a few of many examples in which I cited in which federal investments are supporting and encouraging renewal, transformation, innovation and the commercialization of emerging technologies. This is important not only for your businesses but also because we want to see new, viable economic opportunities in Canada’s forest communities.
To succeed in the global forest industry of the future, our government recognizes the need to successfully compete with new products and improved products in new markets.
While the United States accounts for about two thirds of exports of Canadian forest products, we are making significant progress in diversifying our markets — notably in Asia. You are aware that China is already the fastest-growing market for Canadian wood products. Lumber shipments to China have risen more than 500 percent since 2007 at the same time as maintaining thousands of jobs here in Canada. That kind of success does not just happen — it’s the result of hard work by players across the sector and the outreach we’ve done with the forest industry and through initiatives like our Canada Wood Export Program.
Asia has also been a huge source of growth for the pulp and paper sectors. We are very pleased to partner with Canadian companies on market access and environmental branding in this region that is so driven by innovative products. Canada’s forest sector is enjoying real success in Asia. Over time, our ability to grow and diversify markets for wood products through market development and promotion in this region is virtually unlimited.
Last November, I travelled to China and Japan and had the opportunity to see first-hand how government investments in our forest industry are helping companies form partnerships in emerging markets and also to share expertise and supply high-quality wood products to meet the local needs.
During my visit to China, I participated in a ribbon-cutting for two new four-storey apartment buildings which have adopted the latest wood technology in wood-frame construction. The only four-storey wood-frame building in the country located in the Tianjin Economic Development Area, a neighbourhood becoming known as a leader in green building and urban design. They are now the tallest structures made out of wood in China. These buildings represent an important milestone in China’s wood-frame construction industry.
While in Japan, I had the honour of announcing, along with the Government of British Columbia and the Canadian forest industry, $4.5 million in BC lumber sent to help Japan rebuild its public facilities after the tragic tsunami hit that area.
The Government of Canada is pleased to be able to play a role in the continuing reconstruction efforts. Next week I will be joining the Prime Minister on his trip to China. The primary goal will be to sell Canadian products and know-how, whether its oil and gas, metals and minerals or forest products. All are pillars of the Canadian economy.
Le programme « Produits de bois canadien » finance les activités qui aident les producteurs de bois à accroître et à diversifier les débouchés d’exportation sur les marchés outre-mer traditionnels et émergents. Nous appuyons par ailleurs des démonstrations à grande échelle de l’utilisation canadienne du bois dans des marchés outre-mer ciblés et de l’utilisation non-traditionnelle du bois dans les marchés domestiques. Nous investissons dans les initiatives qui visent à accroître l’usage du bois pour des applications non résidentielles au Canada et dans des régions ciblées aux États-Unis.
Ce programme « Le bois nord-américain d’abord » finance des activités pour informer les architectes, les ingénieurs, les rédacteurs de devis et les constructeurs. Il fournit également des avantages et des possibilités liés à l’utilisation du bois pour des applications non résidentielles. Il finance aussi des études de marché, des activités de formation, ainsi que la recherche qui permet de déterminer si les produits et les technologies du bois canadien satisfont aux normes des produits et aux codes du bâtiment.
With the future in mind, we want investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency to continue to grow. Since 2006, the Government of Canada has invested more than $10 billion in green infrastructure, energy efficiency, clean energy technologies and the production of renewable energy and fuels. A responsible and progressive approach to energy production and use will continue to draw on innovation in all of our resource endowments. Forest-derived energy will certainly play an important role in this, aided by continuing advancements in bioenergy technologies.
Pendant plusieurs générations, nous avons prospéré grâce à la vente de produits comme le bois, le papier et la pâte. Ces produits demeureront importants. Il existe cependant d’autres possibilités très prometteuses avec l’usage des fibres du bois tout au long de la chaîne de valeur dans une vaste gamme d’applications industrielles et commerciales, ainsi que la production d’énergie verte. La recherche de calibre mondial est essentielle à l’avenir du secteur forestier, mais ce n’est qu’un des ingrédients nécessaires dans la chaîne de l’innovation.
Pour maintenir notre position de chef de file, il faut sortir les nouvelles technologies des laboratoires et les appliquer dans les usines, dans les marchés et les collectivités. Nos investissements dans le secteur forestier visent à favoriser et à accélérer le développement et la mise en œuvre de ces nouvelles technologies. Celles-ci aideront à créer des bénéfices appréciables pour toute la chaîne de valeur.
We all agree that the way forward for Canada’s forest sector is through a combination of traditional and innovative forest products. With change comes opportunity, and the time has come to seize these opportunities.
We are focusing our efforts on securing our current markets and conquering new ones, on creating new products, on developing our knowledge and processes, and on extracting greater value more efficiently from our forest resources. Building on our success to date in research and development we can ensure that Canada’s forest sector maintains its position as a leader in tomorrow’s sustainable economy.
Together, we have achieved a great deal in the last five years, while coping with some exceptionally difficult circumstances. Together, we will create a more prosperous future for the forest sector.
Thank you very much. Merci beaucoup.
Minister of Natural Resources