Hundreds of jobs affected as Canfor announces pulp line closure at B.C. mill

Hundreds of jobs affected as Canfor announces pulp line closure at B.C. mill
An undated photo of the Prince George pulp mill.

An estimated 300 jobs in British Columbia will likely be gone by the end of the year as Canfor Pulp Products closes the pulp line at its Prince George pulp and paper mill.

The Vancouver-based company made the announcement about the permanent closure Wednesday, blaming a lack of fibre for its pulp operations.

The Canfor statement said the specialty paper facility at the mill will stay open.

Canfor Pulp president Kevin Edgson said the company will begin an “orderly wind-down process” over the next few months and expects to close the pulp line by the first quarter of 2023.

He said Canfor will be working to support affected employees through the transition.

B.C. Premier David Eby said Thursday the government is deploying a crisis response team to Prince George in an effort to support those people and their families who are losing their jobs.

“This is obviously devastating news for those 300 individuals who have lost their jobs for their families, these are people with mortgages, car payments. It’s an incredibly stressful time for them and for the whole community in Prince George.”

Eby said the transition team will help workers losing their jobs with access to benefits the government has established, including training, transition to retirement or other supports.

The premier told reporters at a news conference on housing that he planned to be in Prince George next week and would meet with the mayor and the workers who will be losing their jobs.

The shutdown will result in a reduction of 280,000 tonnes of market kraft pulp annually.

Canfor said the decision to close the pulp line at the mill came after an “extensive analysis” of its operations and the long-term supply of fibre in the area.

“In recent years, several sawmills have permanently closed in the Prince George region due to reductions in the allowable annual cut and challenges accessing cost-competitive fibre,” Edgson said in the statement.

Canfor needs to “rightsize” its operating platform, he said.

The statement said the company regrets the effect the closure will have on its employees, their families and the businesses that support it and the local community.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2023.

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