“Conservative Government Announces $1-Billion To Help Pulp Mills”
“Government got it right.”
That was the first response by Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) CEO Avrim Lazar, upon learning that our Conservative Government has created a new $1-Billion fund to help Canada’s struggling pulp and paper producers become more energy efficient in these tough economic times.
Mr. Lazar added that new Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Fund “will save jobs and help us maintain our edge as the greenest suppliers of pulp in the world."
The Fund will provide forest companies with 16 cents per litre of black liquor produced by a mill between January 1st and December 31st, 2009, up to a maximum program total of $1-billion.
Black liquor is a biomass by-product of the chemical pulping process that has long been used by pulp producers to generate energy for their mills. With this new cash, companies can further improve their energy efficiency and performance, thereby lowering their carbon emissions and energy costs.
Several MPs from British Columbia were on hand as Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt announced the Green Transformation Fund, which FPAC calls “smart policy and smart spending”.
Participating forest companies can use the funds, within three years, to make improvements to any of their pulp and paper mills, including mechanical mills. Projects such as upgrades to cogeneration units, improvements to the energy efficiency of recovery boilers, more energy-efficient pulp and paper machinery and equipment to produce ethanol from forest biomass are examples of capital expenditure that may qualify.
This new program will help blunt some of the challenges currently faced by the pulp sector, including a worldwide decline in the demand for forest products, and a U.S. Government fuel program that has been unintentionally providing U.S. pulp mills with a sizeable subsidy when they add a small amount of diesel to their black liquor.
This is the latest major action by our Conservative Government to support Canada’s forest communities. In 2008, the federal Community Development Trust delivered $1-billion to help laid-off forest workers and communities like McBride, Prince George, Mackenzie, Chetwynd and Fort Nelson.
In Budget 2009 we provided a further $1-billion towards the Community Adjustment Fund (CAF) which will help create jobs and maintain employment in forest-dependent communities. The Northern Development Initiative Trust is helping to delivering some of the CAF funding in our area.
We also invested $170-million to improve the competitiveness of Canada’s forest sector through investments in market diversification and forestry innovation.
And in a measure that has benefitted many forestry workers and companies in Prince George-Peace River, our Government extended Employment Insurance (EI) work-sharing agreements to help employers and employees avoid temporary layoffs while the industry recovers.
We also enhanced and expanded training opportunities for older workers and long-tenured workers (like many of those who’ve worked decades in one mill), so that they can continue to receive EI while undertaking re-training and career transition.
Through the Economic Action Plan and programs like the Green Transformation Fund, our Conservative Government will continue to take steps to ensure that our forest communities emerge from the global recession more efficient and competitive than ever.