question period — Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

Support for Workers in Softwood Lumber Industry

June 12, 2019


Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition)
[14:34]

Honourable senators, my question is also for the Government Leader in the Senate. Senator Harder, a week ago I raised with you the dire situation currently faced by the forestry industry in my province of British Columbia. In addition to the mill closures announced last month, this week has brought more bad news.

On Monday, Canfor announced that it will significantly curtail its operations at almost all of its plants this summer, stating that the current operating conditions in B.C. are uneconomic. As well, yesterday Norbord announced that it will indefinitely curtail production at its mill in 100 Mile House beginning in August, impacting about 160 employees.

Senator Harder, you didn’t quite answer part of my question that I asked last week. In light of the disappointing news this week, I will ask it again: What will your government do to support those who have lost their jobs and help them get back to work?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate)
[14:35]

I thank the honourable senator for her question and her ongoing and appropriate concern for not only the industry but for the families that are involved in the dislocations being announced by the industry.

The Government of Canada continues to have this as a high priority in its engagement with the United States, and I note that the Minister of Foreign Affairs was recently in the United States reviewing a broad range of bilateral issues. Lumber issues remain top of mind and the resolution of those, but it takes two to tango in this business, as the honourable senator will know. However, the minister remains vigilant and hopeful.

Let me say that with respect to the dislocation of workers and the industry itself, there are programs available, as the honourable senator knows. Those are programs where the minister responsible is working closely with the industry sector to provide.

[14:36]

Yes, and it is incumbent upon the minister to do everything she is can, so please convey those concerns to her once again.