The Alberta Forest Products Association is welcoming help for the industry from the federal government now that the U.S. has slapped new duties on Canadian lumber.
Close to 900 million dollars is going into things like finding new markets and helping employees move to other jobs.
Association spokesman Brock Mulligan says it is too early to say how many people will chose to move on.
“I don’t think we’re there yet. Right now, the market’s pretty strong and we also are in fairly early days of the sanctions. We’re glad it’s there and the people who work in forestry will have access to those programs. But, at the same time, it’s pretty early and companies are working really hard to diversify markets.”
He describes lumber producers looking for new markets as “an evolving process.”
“Market development in Asia is something that’s been going on for a number of decades in Japan and, probably, over the last decade or so in China, with reasonably good success. That’s definitely helped diversify and take some of the bite out of the last downturn in the U.S. The goal in China has been to get consumers who previously have bought wood only at a fairly low quality, things like packaging, palettes and concrete forms, to buy some of our better structural wood, the higher-value product. So, that’s started to pay off. We’ve started to see more wood buildings in China, and it’s a huge market, so the potential is massive.”
The money is also meant for loans and loan guarantees. Mulligan says the Association thinks the package is “prudent and reasonable.”