Canada Readies $642-Million in Lumber Aid Amid U.S. Trade Spat

The relief package for the softwood lumber industry is welcomed by forestry workers as a good start to cushioning the blow dealt by new USA duties on Canadian softwood exports.

The funding will include approximately C$605 million in loans and loan guarantees and about C$160 million in transition funding for softwood companies, the person said, confirming an earlier report from broadcaster CTV News.

Another $260 million is provided for temporary extension of work-sharing agreements from 38 to 76 weeks to reduce layoffs, expand support for skills upgrading for affected forest industry workers, and to help indigenous communities improve performance of their forest operations.

The package also includes $80 million to support workers who want to upgrade skills and move to a different industry and nearly $10 million to extend an EI work-sharing program which subsidizes the wages of eligible workers who go on reduced hours in order to prevent layoffs.

Federal Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Thursday that Canada's preference is for a negotiated softwood lumber agreement that is settled quickly.

Carr's statement described the package as defending Canada's interests against those duties, which he described as an "unfair and unwarranted" trade action.

The federal government's reported plan to extend a round of support to Canada's softwood lumber industry amid a festering trade dispute with the United States is getting a frosty reception from a Toronto-based money manager.

The federal government said it was considering a ban of United States coal exports and duties against several OR industries.

Softwood lumber, which includes pine and other varieties, is heavily used in the construction of new homes.

"We have been here before", Freeland said.

The government stresses the package is trade compliant.

The U.S. Lumber Coalition, a vocal alliance of lumber producers, attacked what it called a subsidy that "only further tilts the trade scale in Canada's favor".

The U.S.is also expected to tack on anti-dumping duties to its new suite of tariffs this summer.

"Helping out workers through EI and subsidizing workers because they lost jobs, that would not be a subsidy because it does not go to the producers", he said.

While a trade deal is being sorted out, Horgan says it's vital to get BC's softwood products to higher prices markets.

EDC will make commercial financing including loans and loan guarantees - for a total of up to $500-million available to assist forestry companies.

The Canadian government has called the duty unfair, and officials have threatened to ban USA, including Montana industry, coal shipments from a Canadian port.

  • Leroy Wright