World Media

NewsAlert: Feds announce $867M to help lumber producers weather softwood tariffs

NewsAlert: Feds announce $867M to help lumber producers weather softwood tariffs

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr announced the aide package Thursday to help lumber producers and employees weather the impact of the punishing new US tariffs 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.

As well, Ottawa will earmark $260-million to support efforts to help workers laid off by the dispute to upgrade their skills, to extend the maximum period for work-sharing agreements to 76 weeks from 36 and help indigenous organizations pursue new business opportunities. "We're going to help", said Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

This is the fifth time the US has accused Canada of unfairly subsidizing its softwood industry and Carr and Freeland both say Canada has always prevailed against the accusations before the World Trade Organization or under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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The Canadian government will provide C$867 million in aid to lumber companies in the country affected by the duties the Trump administration placed on exports of soft lumber. Canada denies this is the case.Ottawa struck back earlier this month, threatening to ban shipments of US thermal coal from Pacific ports and suggesting sanctions against products from Oregon.

"I'm hopeful we'll always have a prosperous and productive relationship with the United States on trade, whether it be softwood or any other issue", he said.

The government stresses the package is trade compliant.

It took Canada four years to reach a negotiated settlement the last time, and 15,000 workers lost their jobs in the first year alone.

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While a trade deal is being sorted out, Horgan says it's vital to get BC's softwood products to higher prices markets. Funding for further loan guarantees may be considered by the government in the future to address changing market conditions.

Tensions have increased between the US and Canada and there are even talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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

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