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Over 200 out of work as Powell River paper mill closes

A total of 206 people are now without work on the Sunshine Coast, as Paper Excellence announces it’s halting operations at its Catalyst Paper tiskʷat mill in Powell River.

In a Wednesday statement, the company says that the facility is losing money, noting it’s simply “not viable” to operate under current market conditions.

However, Paper Excellence does plan to offer relocation opportunities for those out of a job, and says it’s working with the government and partners to find new opportunities for the existing mill.

“It is Paper Excellence’s long-term goal that the site continues to provide meaningful employment and economic activity in Powell River,” the company says.

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It had previously announced curtailment to begin on Nov. 22, with hopes to restart the mill’s production in January.

Meanwhile, as the Powell River site closes indefinitely, the company adds that operations at its Crofton and Port Alberni locations will continue as per usual.

Minister Conroy says paper mill closure is ‘devastating’

Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, released the following statement in response to Paper Excellence’s announcement:

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“The indefinite curtailment of Paper Excellence’s Catalyst Paper tiskʷat mill is devastating for the 206 people who work at a mill, their families and the Powell River community.

“Our government has worked tirelessly with Paper Excellence to keep this operation running and it was our hope that the temporary curtailment announced two weeks ago would have been just that.

“I understand the company has cited the ongoing contraction of global paper markets and paper prices in Asia as the primary factors for the curtailment.

“I also understand the company has made a commitment to fulfil all obligations under the terms of the collective agreements with UNIFOR Local 1 and Local 76 and offering workers new opportunities at other Paper Excellence Facilities.

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“Our government is committed to supporting impacted workers through skills training, short-term employment opportunities, and employment assistance and support. Separately, my colleagues and I will continue to meet with industry leaders to discuss future economic development opportunities at the site.

“Our government will continue to support the forest sector through our vision to prioritize innovation and made-in-B.C. manufacturing, including a healthy pulp and paper sector. We recognize the boom-and-bust cycle of the past is not working for people and we are committed to working with our local partners to build a more sustainable forestry sector and more resilient and diverse economies so communities can thrive for generations to come.”

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