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Central Nova MP satisfied to see forestry investments in federal budget

Softwood lumber
Softwood lumber – FILE PHOTO

The federal government made a number of investments in Tuesday’s budget that would directly affect how people live and do business in Atlantic Canada.

Central Nova MP Sean Fraser is lauding one of those investments as one that will help preserve Nova Scotia’s forests.

That initiative is to protect Nova Scotia’s forests from the spruce budworm. The federal government has invested $74.75 million in the protection of Atlantic forest land – specifically against the destructive spruce budworm.

This is an investment that will begin in the 2018-19 fiscal year, and be implemented over the course of five years.

“The spruce budworm previously decimated east coast forests, and took a chunk out of Quebec’s forests that was equivalent in size to New Brunswick,” said Fraser in a call with the News. “We advocated to the government to include support for the forest industry and form a partnership between the industry and provinces that could be affected by the spruce budworm.”
The federal investment will be put toward measures to prevent the pests from spreading across provincial borders and the treatment of forest lands in the Atlantic provinces with a product to prevent the spread of the insect.

“The threat being imposed would impact New Brunswick and Nova Scotia,” said Fraser. “The main focus was to stop it from getting to New Brunswick (from Quebec), so there’s no ability for it to creep into Nova Scotia’s forests.”
Another investment relating to the softwood lumber industry was $191 million over five years to be used to support jobs – that includes money to be used in the dispute resolution mechanism through the World Trade Organization (WTO) and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

That funding will be used to resolve trade disputes involving softwood lumber between a number of Canadian provinces and the U.S. However, Fraser noted, the outcome of that funding will not change much in Nova Scotia, since the province is not involved in those battles because of a previous arrangement on softwood lumber with the United States.

Last year, Nova Scotia softwood lumber was excluded from U.S. duties and import measures, in a collaboration with U.S. and industry officials, renewing the exemption for Nova Scotia softwood imports after a previous agreement expired.
“That $191 million is for parts of the country that don’t benefit from the same exclusion that N.S. enjoys from tariffs imposed on softwood from there entering the U.S.,” said Fraser. “That investment won’t have an impact on Pictou County’s softwood industry, because we’ve avoided the need to have a fight over softwood lumber through work with our government and the U.S. administration.”

Fraser noted that the agreement is a reminder that Pictou County and Nova Scotia are at a trade advantage when it comes to softwood lumber exports to the United States.

Nova Scotia has around 11,500 direct and indirect jobs supported by its provincial forestry industry.

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