The softwood lumber dispute continues between Canada and the United States, as the U.S. imposed a new anti-dumping duty earlier this week.
The new duty carries an average of 6.87 per cent, with Canfor receiving the highest tariff at 7.72 per cent. The original anti-dumping duty, which remains in place, sits as high as 24 per cent for some producers.
Grande Prairie-Mackenzie MP Chris Warkentin says it’s very concerning, and certainly hits home in the Peace.
“There are big mills, of course, in Manning, High Level and Grande Prairie and throughout other communities in northern Alberta. These duties will have an impact on all of these mills. It will have an impact on the ability to hire new people in the industry.”
With North American Free Trade Agreement re-negotiations kicking off in mid-August, the urgency to strike a new deal is ramping up.
“We wish that the government would have taken action some two years ago. Because they haven’t, of course, we’re in this quagmire that we’re in,” explained Warkentin. “Every day that this isn’t resolved, there’s more duties that are being paid out by Canadian lumber mills and local industries. Every day that those dollars are paid out means there’s less money that can be re-invested in our local communities.”
Warkentin adds the financial assistance package introduced by the federal government at the beginning of June helps, but is a band aid solution.
“Mills across the Peace Country will be heavily impacted. Mill workers aren’t looking for EI payments; they’re looking for stable, long-term employment. Towns in our region rely on a fair lumber agreement with the United States.”
The Softwood Lumber Agreement expired on October 12, 2016.