Local MLA concerned about communities after Canfor restructuring

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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — After a restructuring announcement made by Canfor earlier this week, South Peace MLA Mike Bernier said he’s concerned about the impact it will have on affected communities.

After Canfor’s January 25th restructuring announcement that will see sawmills in Chetwynd and Houston close in the spring, Bernier, the opposition’s forest critic, spoke with Energeticcity.ca about the impact this will have on communities. 

“When we see small communities, like the ones we have up here in the Peace Region, lose a mill and have that many jobs lost all at once, it can be very heartbreaking, but also really traumatic,” Bernier said. 

Bernier continued by saying that the loss of jobs at these local mills would impact more people than just the individuals employed at the facilities.

“Just because the husband or wife works out at Canfor, the other partner works somewhere else in the community maybe,” Bernier explained. 

“If they move away, that’s an additional loss.”

Chetwynd mayor, Allen Courtoreille, expressed his own concern for his community in the wake of the closures, calling Canfor’s decision to close the facility a “disappointment.”

The sentiment of needing to prioritize the families impacted was echoed in the statement put out by the Ministry of Forests and the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development, and Innovation. 

“Our immediate priority is to support the workers and families impacted by the closure of the Chetwynd sawmill and pellet mill, and the temporary closure of the Houston mill.” the ministries said. 

The government stated that forestry “is and will remain a foundation of the B.C. economy.” 

“Our government has made recent investments as part of our ongoing work and commitment to ensure that forestry remains a strong and sustainable industry in British Columbia.” 

Bernier is more critical of the government’s approach to the forestry industry and believes it’s difficult for companies to make long-term plans when harvesting lumber in B.C. 

“I think the government has done a very poor job of sending any kind of positive signals to the industry that we’re open for business in BC,” said Bernier. 

At the end of the interview with Energeticcity.ca, Bernier mentioned he was heading to Chetwynd to talk with workers at the Canfor mill and he hopes the transition goes well.

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