January 24, 2020 By P&PC Staff
Forestry contractors affected by the pending closure of Northern Pulp will have access to short-term repayable financing, the Nova Scotia government announced today.
The province is working with 16 credit unions to offer the funding, which will be available to eligible forestry contractors to help them with payments on equipment loans on a short-term basis.
The forestry transition team, created as part of the province’s $50-million package to boost the forestry sector after the mill’s closure, met on Jan. 21 to approve the new $5-million program.
“Many forestry contractors are carrying significant loans on harvesting equipment and they need short-term financial support,” says Jeff Bishop, executive director for Forest Nova Scotia.
“This program will help with cash flow for those loans, and that will make a real difference for many of our small business owners in the supply chain.”
Qualifying contractors can access a line of credit, up to $180,000, guaranteed by the province. Further details on eligibility are being finalized and will be made available within the next week.
The participating credit unions offer the Small Business Loan Guarantee program, which allows small businesses to access up to $500,000 in term loans, working capital and lines of credit.
Summary of programs available
The transition fund is also supporting an additional $7 million in silviculture and road work on both Crown land and private lands helping businesses plan for the spring season.
Among the other programs funded by the forestry transition package are information sessions on jobs and retraining, which are taking place throughout January, and a Forestry Sector Apprenticeship Initiative that offers one-on-one career counselling and customized skills training plans to help connect to opportunities in the skilled trades.
A toll-free line (1-888-315-0110) has been set up for those affected by the mill’s closure and have questions, and a confidential, 24-7 support line (1-866-885-6540) is available for anyone who may need emotional support.
Laid-off workers may now also request emergency assistance through their local Access Nova Scotia centre.
Northern Pulp is set to close Jan. 31 upon enforcement of the Boat Harbour Act, which legislates that the mill must stop using the aerating lagoons at Boat Harbour for its effluent disposal. The mill does not have an approved replacement facility to continue operations.
About 300 workers at the mill are directly affected by the closure, with an estimated 2,400 affected in the broader forestry sector.
Layoff notices have already been distributed to the mill’s union workers, and salaried workers began receiving their notices this week.
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