The jobs and livelihoods of 1,500 British Columbia forestry workers are being secured by Paper Excellence Canada’s (PEC) acquisition of Catalyst Paper’s facilities in Crofton, Port Alberni and Powell River.
The purchase by PEC – which is subject to regulatory review and final approvals – comes after months of joint effort by the B.C. government, Catalyst Paper and potential purchasers to maintain the viability of the company’s operations.
“Keeping these operations open and jobs in place shows what British Columbians can achieve when we come together and put workers, families and communities first,” said Premier John Horgan. “This purchase by Paper Excellence Canada is another major vote of confidence in our province and people. More importantly, it will help keep families and communities strong as we continue to revitalize our coastal forest sector.”
The purchase follows quickly on the heels of regulatory changes made by the provincial government in July to protect the pensions of Catalyst retirees and workers in the event that only part of the company was sold.
“Our action, then as now, was to make sure workers, past and present, have secure futures in the communities they call home,” Premier Horgan said. “We’re pleased that Paper Excellence has stepped up and stepped in to provide even more security to thousands of coastal families.”
Catalyst Paper manufactures 1.3 million tonnes of pulp and paper products. These products include industrial packaging, food service, coated ground-wood, newsprint and directory papers. Customers include retailers, publishers and commercial printers in North America, Latin America, the Pacific Rim and Europe.
Its combined operations in B.C. generate over $2 billion in annual economic activity and are key contributors to the local economies of Vancouver Island, Powell River and Metro Vancouver.
Paper Excellence has evolved from a new entrant as an exporter within the value-added natural resources (pulp) industry to being among one of Canada’s largest pulp producers.
British Columbia has been engaged with the forest industry, organized labour, Indigenous leaders and logging contractors in a focused effort to revitalize the B.C. coastal forest sector. This process will seek to develop new policies that will encourage domestic manufacturing and improve fibre availability for pulp and paper producers and other secondary producers.
The provincial government will work closely with Paper Excellence on the transfer of permits and authorizations for the mills.
Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan –
“The Crofton Mill is an important employer on the mid-Island and this purchase agreement will help ensure a brighter future for nearly 600 families on the Mid Island.”
Nick Simons, MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast –
“I’m really pleased that Paper Excellence Canada sees the value in protecting the 360 employees who live and work in Powell River. Along with their mill in Port Mellon, Paper Excellence’s operations are a key part of the forest economy on the mainland coast.”
Scott Fraser, MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim –
“The Catalyst mill has been central to the forest industry in Port Alberni for decades. This investment will ensure that Port Alberni workers continue to export paper products to the world for years to come.”