By: The Working Forest Staff
CBC NEWS — Forestry contractors who need money to try to weather losses from the Northern Pulp shutdown are being offered up to $180,000 in short-term loans.
It is an effort to tide them over while they search for new buyers for their wood.
Jeff Bishop, executive director of Forest Nova Scotia, helped create the new program. He said much of the money would go to forest workers dealing with payments for equipment.
By freeing up loan payments, Bishop said there might be money to pay workers or to cover other business expenses.
‘There’s going to be people that it’s just not going to help’
But Bishop said it would not help everyone in the industry who is struggling with big bills.
“That’s the hard part of looking at a program like this, that looks at assistance,” said Bishop. “You know, when you look at it, there’s going to be people that it’s just not going to help.
“You hope that it helps as many people that are willing and able to stay working in the sector.”
The Nova Scotia government is guaranteeing the loans, meaning taxpayers will be on the hook if any of that money cannot be repaid.
The province is setting aside roughly $5 million for the program.
It’s the latest aid to be rolled out by the McNeil government in recent weeks to try to cushion the blow from Northern Pulp’s decision to shutter its mill in Pictou County.
Mill must cease operations by Jan. 31
The company will need to cease operations in a week to comply with a law enacted five years ago mandating the closure of the provincially owned effluent treatment plant that has processed the mill’s wastewater for a generation.
According to a news release issued Friday afternoon, the loans will be available through the 16 credit unions that offer the Small Business Loan Guarantee program.
Bishop said the plan was to create a line of credit that people could access for up to a year. Then that money would need to be repaid over the three following years.