South Okanagan - West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings says he wants to see the government step up for workers in the softwood lumber industry in case of business shortfalls as the trade dispute continues with the U.S. (Submitted photo)

NDP critic calls for support for softwood workers

Tariffs have dropped slightly for most lumber firms, but the trade dispute continues with the U.S.

In light of a recent update to duties on Canadian softwood lumber, the NDP’s natural resources critic said he hopes to see action to alleviate the potential impacts on jobs.

South Okanagan – West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings said the NDP is “disappointed, (but) perhaps not totally surprised” that the U.S. is continuing their tariffs on Canadian lumber. He added there is some relief that the rates have been reduced for most lumber firms.

“We were thinking that perhaps they would bring in just a quota system. Say, restricting the Canadian exports to 28 per cent of the American market,” Cannings said. “They would rather have that than the tariffs because they could sell their product for, obviously, less in the states and compete more easily.”

Related: U.S. adds another border tax to B.C. lumber

Because of the slightly lowered duties on the lumber, Cannings said the U.S. may be starting to see Canada has a stronger hand in the dispute than they initially thought. But while the larger lumber firms could likely weather the storm, he said he is worried about smaller mills, and the people they employ.

“The one fortunate thing, I guess you could say, for the industry is that lumber prices are very high, and so they can still sell, with these tariffs, and still make money to get through,” Cannings said. “It’s the little, family-run mills that might have trouble in this situation, so we’re looking at that.”

Cannings said he would like to see programs put in place for workers in the softwood lumber industry to help tide them over in the case of lost business due to the dispute.

“A lot of federal money went into helping oil and gas workers when the crisis there hit,” Cannings said. “But we haven’t seen that, yet, in the forest sector. So we’re still waiting and watching, hoping that the federal government will really convince the Americans that we need to solve this.”

Related: U.S. ambassador ‘optimistic’ about softwood talks

Cannings’ own bill on the issue is expected to go to debate in the next month, he said. Introduced in the spring, Cannings’ bill would have the federal government look more closely at softwood lumber when constructing federal buildings.

“That would get us away from this reliance on the American market that we have, so we’ll see how that goes,” he said. “We have companies like Structurlam that are really ahead of the curve on some of these tall, wood buildings, and that’s what this bill is trying to support.”

Related: Penticton’s Structurlam continues to rise

Though Bill C-354 has yet to be debated, Cannings said he has seen some support from some of the Liberals he has spoken to in Parliament.

“I think it could be a fairly popular bill, and I’m hoping it will go through,” he said. “There’s some push back from people that have a lot of steel making in their riding.”

Related: Horgan to talk softwood in Washington

That said, Cannings explained the bill wasn’t intended to prefer wood over other materials, but rather to give wood more consideration than it has had in the past, with wood largely on the wayside in major construction projects in recent decades.

“Some of the concrete people are very much on board with that. They think they can compete with that,” he said.

“I just want them to consider that, and make the choice based on the lifetime cost and the greenhouse gas emissions.”


@dustinrgodfrey

dustin.godfrey@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Screening tent going up outside of Cariboo Memorial Hospital

Tent for patients with mild to moderate respiratory symptoms referred by health care provider

Interior Health officials outline pandemic response in virtual town hall

Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick moderates digital discussion, Q&A with Interior Health leadership

Williams Lake business discovers front door lock removed

Even if business are closed due to COVID-19, they need to check buildings: Nick Sardy

Back to school: District 27 workforce to provide critical support during COVID-19 pandemic

Superintendent Chris van der Mark said he hopes the district can be a source of calm for communities

Triage tent being set up at 100 Mile District General Hospital

This will keep patient with respiratory symptoms away from patients with other health concerns

B.C. VIEWS: Small businesses need our help

Just as integral in neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Surrey as they are in Prince George or Kelowna

‘Tremendous’ response from blood donors has supply keeping pace with demand

About 400,000 of Canada’s 37 million residents give blood on a regular basis

Morning world update: Cases surge past 600,000; positive news in Germany

Spain suffers its deadliest day as Germany considers April 20 to possibly loosen restrictions

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

Kids get back to learning in B.C., online

Ministry of Education rolls out new tool for school

67 more B.C. COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Vancouver region

Positive tests found in Surrey, Langley long-term care facilities

Food Banks BC already seeing surge in demand due to COVID-19 pandemic

Executive director Laura Lansink said they expect applications will keep increasing

Most Read