• Liberal Caucus

Island Forestry Sector Requires Immediate Attention

Updated: Apr 5, 2020

Transitional assistance to Prince Edward Island’s forestry sector should be developed by the provincial government, says Liberal District 25 MLA Rob Henderson.

“The impending closure of the Northern Pulp plant in Nova Scotia will hurt many Islanders in the forestry sector. I am very concerned the Prince Edward Island government has done very little to address the market loss that will result.”

On Friday, the Nova Scotia government refused to extend a deadline that would have allowed Northern Pulp to continue operating past the end of January 2020. As a result, the mill will stop purchasing wood products from across the Maritimes – including Prince Edward Island. The Nova Scotia government announced a $50 million transition program to help transition many in that province’s forestry sector.

“It has been very clear for many months that a shutdown of Northern Pulp was a very real possibility. While I appreciate the relief felt by many in the fishery, government should have been doing the work required to understand potential effects of Northern Pulp’s closure on forestry, the ferry service and trucking.”

District 25 O’Leary-Inverness is home to the province’s largest independent sawmill. Forestry Operations in O’Leary-Inverness include: Betts Sawmill, Jamie Wallace Forestry, Glen Wood Forestry, Hardy’s Lobster Trap Wood products and McKies Mobile Custom Sawmill.

Additionally, there are numerous private woodlot owners who have seen wood lot value drop by $20 per cord in a few days.

“Over the past couple of days, I have spoken with many Islanders in our forestry sector. One operator told me that 80 per cent of their product was being sent to Pictou – and another said their equipment lost 50 per cent of its value overnight. And they are all reporting that our provincial government has been completely silent. Perhaps it is time for the Minister responsible – Brad Trivers – to begin hearing from the Islanders who will be hurt by these decisions.

“Furthermore, we will need a transition plan to help out the sector. Potentially, a plan will include identification of new markets – which could include a greater reliance on use of wood products for heating.”

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