QUEEN’S PARK – Norm Miller, MPP for Parry Sound-Muskoka and PC Critic for Northern Development and Mines and Natural Resources and Forestry, yesterday asked what the government will do to protect forestry jobs like those of the 815 people working for Rayonier in Kapuskasing, Cochrane and Hearst.
Last week the US department of commerce announced duties up to 22% on uncoated groundwood paper—newsprint and paper for book publishing, this on top of the up to 6.5% countervailing duty imposed in January. While this duty is based on an allegation that Catalyst Paper of British Columbia is dumping newsprint in the US, any Ontario paper mills that were not audited are also subject to this duty.
Miller noted that forestry workers were not mentioned in Monday’s Speech from the Throne despite the fact that the government said they were “standing up for our businesses and workers, including autoworkers, steelworkers and workers in agriculture as part of our US engagement strategy.”
“Why did this government fail to mention forestry jobs in the speech from the throne?” asked Miller. “Is this yet another indication that Northern Ontario is not important to this government?”
Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry Nathalie Des Rosiers did not have any examples of how her Ministry will help companies survive this trade dispute. The Minister did claim however that Ontario has been successful in past trade disputes. Unfortunately while the final decisions may have favoured Ontario, the process is anything but successful. Companies have to pay the duties during the four- to five-year legal battles, leaving them at best strapped for cash and unable to invest in their own businesses.