British Columbia’s forests minister says the closure of two sawmills in the province’s interior due to the pine beetle infestation is not unexpected.
Steve Thomson says the government has invested more than $880 million dollars to mitigate the impact of the beetle through diversification funding.
Thomson, who is on a trade mission to Japan and China, said from Beijing that he sympathizes with the workers who will lose their jobs when Canfor Corp., (TSX:CFP) closes operations in Quesnel and West Fraser shuts its mill in Houston, though both companies have announced provisions for their employees.
The closures are slated for next March, and both companies have said their timber supply has been wiped out by the pine beetle epidemic that swept through forests in B.C.’s Interior.
Canfor has said its 209 employees in Quesnel will be offered jobs elsewhere in the company and West Fraser has offered to help its 225 Houston-based employees to transition into other positions within B.C. and Alberta, where possible.
The companies also said they have agreed to exchange timber rights, with Canfor taking over forest tenures to support its mill in Houston, while West Fraser will acquire timber for its Quesnel sawmill.