Domtar mill closures hit Cornwall, Ottawa

Domtar Inc. is cutting 1,800 jobs and closing or selling several paper mills and sawmills in a push to regain profitability.

Domtar Inc. is cutting 1,800 jobs and closing or selling several paper mills and sawmills in a push to regain profitability.

The Montreal-based company says its "targeted" measures include closing the Cornwall mill permanently, effective March 31. That will eliminate 910 positions there, although 390 of those jobs already were cut last December.

At that time, the company said it would be cutting 790 jobs by the end of this year.

Domtar also will close its No. 10 and No. 11 paper machines in the old E.B. Eddy plant in Ottawa, eliminating 185 jobs there.

Employees affected by the cuts will receive financial and job-search assistance, the company says.

The City of Cornwall is also planning to offer financial aid as well as professional development training for the Domtar employees.

Mayor Phil Poirier says he may find ways to help those who are hardest hit.

"[We will] set up opportunities to help them find work … help them in regards to preparing themselves for interviews … and talking to maybe financial institutions.

"Maybe, if they get into a little bit of a bind, [we can] extend some of their financial responsibilities, maybe giving extensions on mortgages," Poirier says.

Poirier says a new call centre is opening in Cornwall, which will bring in 800 jobs. However, he says, he wants to provide employment that offers the kinds of high wages workers earned at the paper mill.

The company says it will also shut down sawmills in Grand Remous, north of Maniwaki, Quebec, and in Malartic, in the Abitibi region. Its Vancouver paper mill will be sold.

Included in the cuts will be 100 corporate positions and another 200 in operations.

To further reduce costs, the company's North American administrative offices will be consolidated in Montreal and Cincinnati, and Domtar says it will overhaul its supply chain.

Domtar's cuts follow similar closures by a number of Canadian pulp and lumber companies in recent months, as they grapple with rising energy costs, weak markets and a stronger Canadian dollar, which has cut profits from U.S. sales.

Domtar is North America's third-biggest producer of free-sheet paper, which is used for photocopying. It is also a major producer of business papers and other paper products.

The company has 10,000 employees across North America. It also owns 50 per cent of Norampac Inc., Canada's largest cardboard producer, which also has reported a third-quarter loss of $11 million.