British Columbia

Hundreds of jobs lost, as pulp mill closes

Western Forest Products says it is shutting down its Woodfibre pulp mill in Squamish in early March in a move that will mean the loss of 323 jobs.

Western Forest Products says it is shutting down its Woodfibre pulp mill in Squamish in early March in a move that will mean the loss of 323 jobs.

The announcement comes after unsuccessful efforts to sell the operation.

The company says the financial picture at the 93-year-old mill has not been good for many years and that WFP is getting out of the pulp business to focus on its lumber operations.

Company spokesperson Gary Ley says the timing of the layoffs is terrible, but says the company couldn't sit on the news.

"Certainly, people were shocked and surprised when they heard the news last night. I mean, this is a terrible time to do this. And there's never a good time to make a decision like this, or to make such an announcement," he said.

"But unfortunately, the timing is driven by the nature of the transaction, and securities regulations which require us, once the deal has been approved by the boards of the companies, to disclose the news as quickly as possible."

The Squamish shutdown is part of a deal with Canfor. WFP will now send its wood chips to the Howe Sound pulp mill run by Canfor and Oji Paper Canada – and take over Canfor's logging division on northern Vancouver Island.

Actual pulp production will shut down in January, but the company says there will still be work shutting down the mill until March 9.

The Pulp and Paper Workers of Canada union says hitting the workers with layoffs just before Christmas is "simply unconscionable."

This closure is just the latest in the struggling Canadian pulp and paper industry.

The Canadian Energy and Paperworkers' Union says 10,000 of its members across the country have lost their jobs this year as the result of mill closures.

The CEP says 22 mills in Canada have either partially or fully closed in the past year.

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