Manitoba

Tolko closure looms as Manitoba cabinet ministers visit The Pas

Time is running out for the mill in The Pas as Progressive Conservative ministers visit the northwestern Manitoba town that faces the loss of its biggest employer.
Manitoba cabinet ministers are visiting The Pas as the town faces closure of its mill after Tolko Industries announced it would shutter the plant on Dec. 2. (Sean Kavanagh/CBC)

Time is running out for the mill in The Pas as Progressive Conservative ministers visit the northwestern Manitoba town that faces the loss of its biggest employer.

The 300 workers at the Tolko paper mill in The Pas learned in August that the B.C.-based company plans to shut down operations on Dec. 2.

Manitoba Growth, Enterprise and Trade Minister Cliff Cullen will sit down today with community leaders from around the region. They will brainstorm about what to do as they face the imminent closure and the loss of the $37-million payroll.

Justice Minister Heather Stefanson and Crown Services Minister Ron Schuler will also be in The Pas today.

Is there a way to save the paper mill in The Pas?

6 years ago
Duration 0:50
That's one of many questions to be asked at a meeting this afternoon between Progressive Conservative ministers and local stakeholders. CBC reporter Sean Kavanagh is in The Pas.

The PC government has already signalled there will be no bailout for the mill. Last week, Tolko rebuffed an offer from the town of The Pas for a tax relief package worth approximately $840,000 a year for three years.

The Pas Mayor Jim Scott told CBC News last week the company has received expressions of interest in the facility and asked whether prospective buyers could get the same deal. Scott said the tax relief package was created to forestall Tolko from shutting down, not as an incentive for another group to take over the mill.

A group of northern First Nations has indicated interest in taking over Tolko's mill operations.

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson said many Indigenous people in the region have forestry jobs connected to the Tolko operation.

The mill closure is one of several economic difficulties in Manitoba's north.

Denver-based OmniTrax Rail wants to shut down the Port of Churchill and has cut rail service to that community in half.

OmniTrax Manitoba rail operations are based in The Pas and it has laid off workers in that community.

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