Forestry summit in Quebec
December 18, 2007 By Pulp & Paper Canada
Qubec, QC – A three-day summit in Quebec City was held last week, bringing together several players from the beleag…
Qubec, QC – A three-day summit in Quebec City was held last week, bringing together several players from the beleaguered forestry sector, including unions, environmentalists, outfitters, industry representatives and researchers. They discussed the many factors affecting the industry, including the strong loonie, high gas prices, lower demand for paper products and a depressed U.S. softwood market.
Experts gathered at the summit urged the industry to tackle its image problem south of the border and take steps to dissuade Americans from believing that Canadian wood is heavily subsidized. Some suggested that Quebec should exercise greater regional control over forest resources, possibly by opening up wood allocations to market valuation. Opening up wood allocations for auction could be a step in the right direction, said Denis Brire, rector of lUniversit Laval. “If we do that, the Americans cannot say that our wood is subsidized, because its at market value, real market value, just like it is in the U.S.”
The crisis facing forestry workers was recognized, and laid-off pulp and paper workers demonstrated to emphasize this. As many as 12,000 people have been laid off in the past two years. Older workers are especially hard hit and need more government assistance because many are too young to retire, yet have great difficulty changing jobs at that age, union representatives said. Quebecs natural resources minister, Claude Bchard believes that the federal government should have a role in helping these workers. “A lot of the solutions are in the hands of the federal government, and we cannot wait for the next federal budget,” he said.
Natural resources minister Bchard reproached the federal government for not attending the three-day summit. He promised that Quebec will rewrite its forestry plan incorporating recommendations from the summit. The revamped forestry management plan will be unveiled in coming weeks.
Source: CBC report of Dec. 13, 200, with files from the Canadian Press.
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