Pulp and Paper Canada

Economic Realities at PAPTAC

April 1, 2008  By Pulp & Paper Canada

Economic recession is something that is often not recognized until it is upon us. Then we look back and wonder why we didn’t see it coming. I suppose it’s because change is uncomfortable. It’s easier …

Economic recession is something that is often not recognized until it is upon us. Then we look back and wonder why we didn’t see it coming. I suppose it’s because change is uncomfortable. It’s easier to bump along with the status quo than it is to upset the apple cart -even when we know change is an inevitability.

While Canada’s economy in general shows no sign of weakness, economic recession in this industry has not left any stones unturned. And that does not just mean at the mills, but associations also. The Pulp and Paper Technical Association of Canada -PAPTAC -is no exception. The mathematical equation is simple enough: with thousands of layoffs in the past five years, membership numbers at PAPTAC have declined. These changes started many years ago when the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association (CPPA) was reorganized and the Forest Products Association of Canada was born. Also, PaperWeek International and EXFOR have always been an important source of revenue for the association -helping to support the many technical conferences, courses and wide range of other services offered to its members over the years. Since EXFOR/ PaperWeek and membership have been shrinking, PAPTAC has been struggling to balance its budget.


At the end of March, more than a third of the association’s staff was laid off. It was a difficult decision for PAPTAC’s Executive Council but one that it had no choice about making. The layoffs affected senior members of the staff including former Executive Director Robert Wood.

Relative newcomer to PAPTAC Greg Hay was promoted to Executive Director. He joined the association four years ago as Events Coordinator. With a degree from The University of Montreal’s business school and extensive experience leading fundraising activities at McDonald Stewart Foundation in Montreal, it didn’t take long for Greg to become an important part of the PAPTAC team. Those of us who have worked with Greg know he was a logical choice. That doesn’t mean he has an easy job ahead, however. Maintaining the many valuable technical conferences and courses PAPTAC offers to its members, reinventing EXFOR for a changing industry -these are just a few of the challenges ahead. But Greg is ready.

“We are 100% committed to meeting our members’ needs and maintaining our core activities,” said Greg in a recent meeting. “The industry has changed shape and so has the organization.” He admits, however, that the changes were not easy for anyone. When a small office loses long-term staff members, it creates a shock wave, but the remaining employees know the cost-cutting measures had to be extreme.

“We still need to make a lot of changes but we have a high level of energy to make these changes,” stressed Greg. “Our major focus is to create quality networking opportunities for our members and make sure there is a good exchange of technical information. We will look at new activities that serve this purpose.”

Two upcoming opportunities are the International Pulp Bleaching Conference in Quebec City, June 2-5, and the Control Systems Pan-Pacific Conference in Vancouver June 16-18. Pulp & Paper Canada will be represented at both conferences, which attract industry people from around the world, creating great networking opportunities. Quebec City celebrates its 400th anniversary this year so there is even more reason to add the conference to your agenda. The city is celebrating all year with many special activities. And a visit to Vancouver is always good for the soul!

This magazine has enjoyed a long association with PAPTAC and its predecessor CPPA. We are committed to PAPTAC more than ever through this time of transition. I would like to encourage our readers to reinforce their commitment to the association by playing an active role in the future of the association and by participating in its upcoming activities.



News releases: media@pulpandpapercanada.com Letters to the editor: nryder@pulpandpapercanada.com

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