From March 20–23, Unifor forestry representatives from across Canada met with more than 40 Members of Parliament to discuss renewing the agreement for softwood lumber between U.S. and Canada. Unifor members make up over 50% of workers in the Canadian softwood industry and forestry is a key industry in the economy.
“The stakes couldn’t be higher for one of the largest sectors of Canada’s economy,” said Jerry Dias, National President. “The Trudeau government must stop negotiating trade agreements from a position of fear and get a softwood deal that benefits Canadian forestry communities.”
As Canada’s third largest export sector, forestry directly employs 202,000 people in every region of the country. The forestry sector’s $24 billion positive trade balance represents a quarter of Canada’s total trade surplus.
Unifor says that Canada must have a strategy in place to protect the sector and Canadian jobs, including a contingency plan for unjustified U.S. tariffs.
The impact of a sharp price increase if tariffs are introduced would be immediate on good Canadian jobs. In the early 2000s when the U.S. imposed a combined duty of 27%, 15,000 Canadians were laid off within months.
“If Canada is caught off-guard by U.S. tariffs, the job losses will number in the thousands. Some communities and regions may never recover,” said Scott Doherty, Executive Assistant to Unifor’s National President.
Unifor members reported that there was widespread support among MPs of all parties. Former Unifor member and MP Tracey Ramsey (NDP, Essex) asked the Minister a question in the House of Commons on March 20.
In the coming weeks, Unifor will launch a full-scale campaign to pressure the federal government to prioritize Canadian forestry jobs and develop a plan if duties are levied. For more info visit unifor.org/softwoodlumber