Sudbury

70 positions to be phased out at Espanola Domtar plant, but union says it's good news

Renovations to the Domtar paper mill in Espnaola will see 70 jobs cut over the next three years, but the union says the changes will keep the remaining 430 positions safe for the near future.

Workforce at plant to go down from 500 to 430 by 2023

Domtar plans to cut the workforce at its Espanola mill by about 70 workers in the next four years, but the union says it's actually a good sign for the future. (CBC)

Domtar is cutting 70 jobs from its Espanola paper mill, but the union sees it as good news.

The company will be modernizing its plant over the next three years, while reducing the number of pulp lines and batch digesters.

Domtar, which declined to give CBC an interview, expects there will be no layoffs, with a larger number of workers set to retire in the coming years.

"As we prepare for the future, we are simplifying the mill by consolidating the fiber production line from two to one bleach plant, and reducing batch digesters from five to three to improve the mill's sustainability over the long-term," reads the statement from Domtar.

Joanne Lamothe, the president of Unifor Local 74 representing 300 of the 500 employees at the Espanola mill, says while some are focusing on the job losses, she sees this as Domtar investing in the future. 

Paper instead of plastic?

"If anything it secures our jobs, it sustains the economy in this area and really lets the community know that it has a future, as well as the employees," she says.

"I think one of the biggest things is when a company says it's going to invest in you and that gave us such a positive outlook to know that we're being looked at to be invested in, to have a future."

Lamothe says the changes, expected to be complete by 2023, will also allow the Espanola mill to focus on the growing market for specialty recycled paper products, particularly as the world moves away from single use plastics. 

About the Author

Erik White

journalist

Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to erik.white@cbc.ca

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