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FPAC calls for ‘swift implementation’ of $107B in federal COVID-19 support


March 26, 2020
By P&PC Staff

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The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) has released a statement calling for swift implementation of the federal government’s $107-billion COV1D-19 support package.

The organization says it is pleased that all government parties have supported the emergency measures.

“The current situation is unprecedented and we cannot overstate the importance of a quick and coordinated plan to implement the measures approved today,” says Derek Nighbor, FPAC’s president and CEO.

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“This is a big first step. We applaud MPs and senators from all parties for getting down to work and passing this quickly. As this pandemic unfolds, we need to be live to other required measures to protect Canadian workers and their families, and provide businesses with the needed backstops for business continuity and cash flows.

“Right now, it’s about fighting through this storm, then we can hopefully soon switch gears to recovery and growth mode.”

Below, FPAC is echoing calls from the Business Council of Canada for the federal government to move urgently on three other key measures:

  • Help laid-off workers right away. Many larger businesses, including those in the forest sector, would be prepared to step up to pay laid-off workers an amount equal to what they would be entitled to under Employment Insurance benefits, with the guarantee that the federal government would reimburse them. The key is to get money in the hands of individuals and families now – and avoid pushing them en masse into lengthy EI line ups.
  • Help distressed companies with credit and cash flows. FPAC welcomes the $10 billion already earmarked to support capital and liquidity, but much more will be needed to keep workers employed and companies operating. Expanding programming through Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) by at least $75 billion would be a huge boost.
  • Federal direction around “essential services” or “critical operations.” Similar to what has been issued by the US Department of Homeland Security, Canada needs a federal directive to declare forest products and the forest sector as “essential” or “critical” infrastructure and operations. The Canadian forest sector supply chain is critical and provides essential items from building materials to pulp for masks and hospital gowns; from products like toilet paper and tissue to pellets and biofuels for heating systems.
    • While the importance of the forest sector value chain has already been recognized in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, a confusing patchwork is emerging across the country and some provinces have not yet acted. To keep operating, many key suppliers are now needing to prove that they are connected to an “essential” or “critical” supply chain. Today, if you are a forest products company operating in a province that has not yet made a declaration, it is putting supplier/customer relationships and business at risk. Federal direction and clarity is needed immediately.

“In the days and weeks ahead, FPAC and its members across the country will continue work with the federal government to ensure forest sector workers and communities get the support they need,” the organization says.