Progressive Conservative leader Tim Houston introduced legislation last week, that he said aims to ensure the forest industry continues to thrive in Nova Scotia.
The Forestry Industry Sustainability Act calls on the Liberal government to strike a task force of stakeholders and experts to chart a path toward a sustainable forestry industry.
“It’s time to get the politicians out of the way. Liberal mismanagement has thousands of families worried about their livelihoods,” Houston said. “This legislation will bring the right people together to give forestry families certainty and peace of mind.”
The task force, led by a conciliator, would make a recommendation, no later than June 30, 2019, on a workable path to a thriving forestry industry in Nova Scotia.
With the deadline for the closure of Boat Harbour approaching in January 2020, people in the forestry industry have indicated that there could be significant financial impact if Northern Pulp has to close even temporarily while a new treatment is constructed.
“We don’t have time to waste another day. Families shouldn’t have to sit in fear wondering what the future holds. It’s not fair to them,” Houston said. “It’s time to take action and get input from those who know best – and that isn’t the politicians.”
Forestry and related manufacturing are crucial components of Nova Scotia’s economy. A 2016 study showed the industry had a $2.1 billion economic impact. At that time 11,500 Nova Scotians were employed directly or indirectly in the forest industry.
On March 6 Northern Pulp issued a release expressing frustration that the discussion in the provincial legislature didn’t include talk of granting an extension to the use of the Boat Harbour Treatment Facility past January 2020.
“It needs to be said: without Northern Pulp there can be no plan B that does not include massive job losses,” stated Jean Francois Guillot, Vice President Operations East with Paper Excellence Canada, owner of Northern Pulp. “The forestry sector’s future was discussed in the legislature last week, but no one discussed a short extension for our wastewater treatment facility.”
He said without a short extension, the company will be forced to cease operating and will cost jobs throughout rural Nova Scotia.
“We too want to see Boat Harbour cleaned up, we want to finish our new treatment facility,” Guillot said. “We just need a little bit more time to get that done.”
“Our partnerships with sawmills, forestry contractors and private woodlot owners are critical to its success and the rural economy,” said Guillot. “Our new wastewater facility will reduce our environmental impact while ensuring we can continue to help the Nova Scotian economy.”
“Any plan for the future of the forestry sector that does not include Northern Pulp will be a plan for the managed decline of the sector in Nova Scotia.”