Rafferty calls for national forestry summit

Press Release

Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP John Rafferty, the NDP’s forestry critic, has called upon federal Natural Resources minister Lisa Raitt to convene a national forestry summit to help the industry, communities, and families that have been hurt by the prolonged six-year crisis.
“It’s time for the federal government to lead the way and convene a summit to help the forestry industry, and dependent communities and families, get help during this crisis and come out of it in a strong position,” Rafferty argued.
“The silence has been deafening,” he charged. ‘There have been 45,000 layoffs and job losses in every single province, so the crisis is truly national and federal leadership is clearly required.”
The crisis also has hit close to home for Rafferty as several mills recently have been shuttered in his riding of Thunder Bay-Rainy River.
“We have seen a lot of mills close in our local communities over the years,” he noted. “Most recently, Northern Hardwoods has turned the power off in their shuttered plant and AbitibiBowater has again laid off workers in Fort Frances.
“Hundreds of families and businesses in our smaller communities depend on these mills for their livelihood and they have been devastated by this crisis,”
he stressed.
Rafferty made his call in a letter to the minister that was hand-delivered to her office—and then underscored his request during Question Period in the House of Commons last week.
Rafferty did not get the answer he wanted, however, but has vowed to press the issue further.
“We got a non-answer today [Friday] from the government, but I’m hopeful they will come around to the idea.
“It’s been requested by the industry and by two different parliamentary committees recently, so the calls are getting hard to ignore,” he added.
According to the Forestry Products Association of Canada, forestry is an $84-billion a year industry in Canada that directly or indirectly employs 863,000 people in all provinces of the country.
Since 2003, there have been more than 45,000 confirmed layoffs or job losses in the struggling industry.
According to Industry Canada, the auto industry in Canada is a similar-sized one in dollar value, employs 463,000 Canadians, and has projected up to 20,000 job losses in the coming years.
Yet in the most recent federal budget, the auto industry received $4 billion in assistance but just $170 million was earmarked for forestry.