Nova Scotia

NewPage options being examined: MacKay

National Defence Minister Peter MacKay said the provincial committee set up to deal with the pending closure of the NewPage Port Hawkesbury Ltd. mill is looking at a variety of options to help the workers who will soon be unemployed.

Labour leader says feds must help NewPage mill

National Defence Minister Peter MacKay said the provincial committee set up to deal with the pending closure of the NewPage Port Hawkesbury Ltd. mill is looking at a variety of options to help the workers who will soon be unemployed.

"We know that there is capacity, for example, at other mills — including at Northern Pulp in my own constituency, Bowater Mersey down on the South Shore," he said in Halifax.

"So, there is a lot of engagement right now between the province and the working group and those other mills to see that we can keep product moving and people employed."

The comittee is made up of provincial, federal, municipal and employee representatives.

MacKay said he has not met with workers from the Point Tupper paper mill. He said that both ACOA and Enterprise Cape Breton Corp. have people working full-time on the problem.

On Monday, the president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour said the federal government must help find a way to keep the pulp and paper mill open.

At a Labour Day rally in Halifax, Rick Clarke said Ottawa should step in to save the 1,000 jobs that will be lost when the mill closes down indefinitely later this month.

"What the federal government should be doing — when they see provincial governments like ours that is fighting, trying to maintain a plant that's providing 1,000 direct jobs — the federal government should be ponying up and trying to help the provinces that are taking on these issues because it's federal policies that are a major contributor to these shutdowns and closures," he said.

"But, that's not happening, sisters and brothers," he added.

NewPage announced on Aug. 22 that the newsprint machine will shut down on Sept. 10, while the machine that produces glossy paper for magazines will be turned off on Sept. 16.

Clarke blamed free trade agreements negotiated by Ottawa  for allowing multinational companies to have too much control over what happens to entire towns and even provinces. 

NewPage's parent company, based in Ohio, is facing a huge debt of $3.3 billion.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Aug. 19 that parent company NewPage Corp. had "warned in a regulatory filing that it may have to file for bankruptcy protection if it's unable to refinance its crushing debt load."

Clarke also said the federal government's recent tax cuts for corporations have not created new jobs in Canada.

The mill closure will affect 400 people who work in the woods and 600 people in the mill. Many others depend on the plant for indirect jobs.

The pulp and paper mill has been the major employer in the Port Hawkesbury area since the 1960s. It was sold to NewPage in 2007.

NewPage is the largest glossy paper manufacturer in North America, with $3.6 billion in 2010 sales and plants in six states and Nova Scotia.

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