Forestry summit must be convened

Last week I wrote to the federal minister of natural resources and asked her to convene a national forestry summit.
Here in Thunder Bay-Rainy River, we know the industry has been going through tough times for 10 years and we’ve needed federal leadership on the issue from the start.
While the auto sector is getting the help it needs, forestry continues to suffer without a hint of federal assistance.
I have yet to hear back from the minister regarding this request, but I will continue to press her to convene a summit to help the forestry industry, towns, and families that are suffering to get through the crisis and come out in as strong a position as possible.
The full text of my letter is below for your consideration.
Dear Minister Raitt,
I am writing to raise your awareness to the difficulties facing the forestry industry in Canada and to request that you convene a national summit to find ways to assist forestry companies, communities that are supported by the activities of this industry, and the families that are dependent upon the forestry industry for their livelihoods now and in the future.
As you know, such a summit was previously called for by both the Finance and Natural Resource committees in the last Parliament.
As you know, the forestry industry in Canada has been in steep recessionary cycle for more than five years as demand for forestry products like fine paper, raw logs, and finished goods has declined. To date, more than 45,000 jobs have been lost on a temporary or permanent basis since 2003.
Many would say that the forestry industry, dependent communities, and families have been mired in a “crisis” for some time.
The broader global economic crisis continues to further suppress demand for forestry demand, and I am of the opinion that our federal government should take a leadership role in assisting the industry, communities, and families that face a more than uncertain future as a result.
Given the immense challenges facing forestry companies today and moving forward, those faced by single-industry towns that are dependent upon the forestry sector, and the hardship that has been, and will be, faced by many forestry families, I ask you today to convene a national forestry summit at the earliest possible date.
Such a summit should have two main objectives: to discuss and find ways to mitigate the effects that the broader economic crisis has had on the forestry industry, dependent communities, and families, as well as to develop a national strategy to assist the sector in moving forward.
Given these two potential objectives, and the complex problems facing the sector, likely participants in such a national summit should include some or all of the following: the federal government (including the departments of Natural Resources, Human Resources and Skills Development, and Finance), provincial governments represented by parallel ministers, representatives of both small and large producers, unions that represent workers in the forestry sector, locally-elected officials from forestry-dependent communities, select academics, and Aboriginal stakeholders and environmental groups with an interest in sustainable forestry management.
I would like to offer my sincere thanks for taking the time to consider this request. I look forward to hearing from you on this most important issue.
John Rafferty

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