By Kristina Urquhart
Nova Scotia’s Northern Pulp has announced it will close, eliminating 300 direct jobs, following the premier’s announcement earlier today that the province’s January 31 deadline to stop diverting effluent into Boat Harbour will stand.
During a press conference this morning, Premier Stephen McNeil said the mill and its parent company Paper Excellence have had enough time to come up with a new plan.
“Northern Pulp will be ordered to stop pumping effluent in Boat Harbour, and let me be clear, there will be no extension,” McNeil said. “The mill has had a number of chances to get this right.”
In a subsequent news conference, Brian Baarda, CEO of Paper Excellence, confirmed his previous statement that the Abercrombie-based Northern Pulp will close without an extension to the Boat Harbour Act. The pulp manufacturing plant is the province’s main consumer of sawmill residuals.
“This decision ensures the closure of Northern Pulp [and] the devastation of Nova Scotia’s forest industry,” Baarda said. He indicated he would be meeting with mill staff today. Counselling will be available as layoff notices are distributed.
“I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this,” McNeil said about the decision. “I am extremely disappointed to say the least.”
Support for workers
McNeil also announced a $50-million transition fund to support forestry workers who will be displaced by the government’s decision. Kelliann Dean, deputy minister of intergovernmental affairs and trade, will lead the team responsible for administering the funds.
McNeil indicated the funds would be available to most workers in the forestry industry – aside from mill owners – including Northern Pulp employees, truckers and contractors.
Northern Pulp employs 300 people at its plant, and there are an estimated 2,700 forestry workers in the supply chain that could be out of work when the mill ceases operation, even if temporarily.
A visibly emotional McNeil acknowledged the timing of the announcement being close to the holidays. “We have not forgotten you,” he said, addressing the workers. “Our government is committed to economic growth and environmental integrity. We will continue to do both, not an either or.”
McNeil said that as part of the transition process, his government would be examining Northern Pulp workers’ pension plans to ensure they wouldn’t be cut short.
Read more at our partner site Pulp & Paper Canada.