CHRONICLEJOURNAL.COM — When the Ontario government went to bat in late November for the province’s lumber sector, it was mainly sticking up for workers in an area that has most of the votes.
According to a Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry backgrounder, the majority of direct forestry-sector jobs — more than 16,000 — were located in the Greater Toronto Area.
Northern Ontario came second, with just over 11,000 jobs in the forest industry based on data collected in 2019. An additional 11,000 jobs were located in central Ontario, the backgrounder said. The statistics include jobs in pulp and paper and other forestry-related sectors.
About 55 percent of the wood harvested in Ontario is put through sawmills.
On Nov. 25, MNRF Minister John Yakabuski noted the U.S. Department of Commerce has agreed to slash U.S. tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber exports to nine from 20 percent but said the rate falls well short of the spirit of free trade.
“We firmly believe that any rates of this sort are unfair and unjustified,” Yakabuski said in a news release“These rates put the softwood lumber industry and the workers, families, and communities that rely on it at an unfair disadvantage during this already difficult time.”
Yakabuski added: “The rate for all companies should be zero — that’s the meaning of free trade.”
Wood from forestry operations is used in everything from housing construction to personal protection equipment and toothpaste.
According to MNRF, the current volume of timber harvested in Ontario is less than 60 percent of what it was in 2000, although global demand for wood products is expected to rise.
Less than half of one percent of Ontario’s managed Crown forests is harvested each year, the province says.
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