From the NDP
AbitibiBowater’s announcement last week of a month-long shutdown at its newsprint and kraft pulp operations, as well as a one-week shutdown at its sawmill and woodlands operations, shows the McGuinty government continues to fail Northern Ontario, NDP leader Howard Hampton charged.
“Eleven hundred workers received layoff notices yesterday [Jan. 14] and we haven’t heard a word from the McGuinty Liberals,” said Hampton.
“Unless bold, aggressive action is taken soon, I’m worried those temporary layoffs may become permanent, which would be a devastating loss for Thunder Bay workers and their families,” he added.
Hampton is renewing his call for an industrial hydro rate, noting that stable, affordable energy prices are key to protecting forestry jobs.
Ontario’s hydro rate is more than twice Manitoba’s rate, which has not experienced one permanent forestry shutdown despite the market downturn.
According to AbitibiBowater, its Thunder Bay operation has the highest energy prices of its 25 plants across North America.
“It’s time the McGuinty government stood up for Northern Ontario jobs and implemented an industrial hydro rate,” said Hampton. “It’s frustrating to see good forestry jobs disappear when there are practical solutions out there to protect these jobs.”
The NDP is calling for an “all-included” industrial hydro rate in the forestry industry of $45 per megawatt hour. In exchange, companies would be required to provide job guarantees or invest in energy-efficiency measures.
“This is an approach that has worked elsewhere and it would work here in Ontario to protect good jobs,” said Hampton.