On February 15 Unifor forestry representatives from across Canada met to strategize about the upcoming talks with the United States about softwood lumber. Unifor members make up over 50% of softwood industry.
The trade rhetoric from the new U.S. President, combined with the volatile history of softwood lumber negotiations, is a serious cause for concern. Unifor is concerned that countervailing or anti-dumping duties will be again levied on Canadian lumber entering the U.S.
In the event that the U.S. imposes new duties, forestry job losses in Canada could measure in the thousands.
“The federal government would be wise to include workers during every step of this process,” said Scott Doherty, Executive Assistant to the National President. “Québec’s model of sectoral inclusion and consultation is a model to emulate.”
To quickly act to defend the industry and good jobs, Unifor is launching a campaign to pressure the federal government to prioritize Canadian forestry jobs and develop a plan if duties are levied on Canadian softwood lumber. To protect communities and stabilize the industry, the federal government needs to act swiftly to provide a loan guarantee to counteract the financial impact to Canadian exporters.
There are signs that the federal government has started to take notice. On February 22, the Ministry of Natural Resources announced the creation of a federal-provincial task force.
To meet with MPs and talk about the threats to communities from coast to coast to coast, Unifor forestry representatives will be in Ottawa on March 20–23.