Canfor says it will curtail production indefinitely at its sawmill in the northern Cariboo community of Quesnel, B.C.

Quesnel, B.C.

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About 180 forestry workers will be laid off Jan. 15, as Canfor removes 255 million board feet of lumber from the plant, which can pump out up to 375 million board feet annually.

"In this situation, we're not shutting the mill down cold, so it is still a curtailment," Dave Lefebvre, the director of public affairs and corporate communications, said Tuesday. "But it's of an undetermined period of time.

"These curtailments, unfortunately, have happened fairly often in the last few years as a result of the market across the industry."

Lefebvre said the sawmill won't return to full operation until it sees an improvement in market demand and the economics of running the plant.

Union leader Frank Everitt said the news is hard to believe.

"I think it's a state of shock for the people in Quesnel, who've just heard the announcement that they're going to be indefinitely shut down until market conditions improve," he said. "You've worked at that mill most of your life and you think it's still going to operate."

The announcement by the Vancouver-based company was also bad news for the 120 truckers and loggers who serve the Quesnel mill, about 100 kilometres south of Prince George, B.C.

"That's just devastating," said Mary Anne Arcand, who speaks for the truck loggers.

"They are not eligible for EI. They are contractors [and] these winter months constitute 80 per cent of their annual income. It's just one of those perfect storms and it's going to affect these guys at the worst possible time."

Meanwhile, about 400 kilometres northwest of Quesnel, in Kitimat, B.C., 500 mill workers will lose their jobs Jan. 31 when the Eurocan paper mill shuts its doors.

With files from The Canadian Press