Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver told reporters this week that the federal government may extend innovation programs designed to help the forest industry adjust to the challenges of a changing sector.
“There may be a continuation of some programs that currently exist,” he said during a lunchtime speech at Paper Week in Montreal on Wednesday. “We should not underestimate the sector’s resilience, the excellence of our forest products and the continuing importance for Canada’s economy,”
The traditional forest industry has fallen on hard times in Canada. Declining demand for paper, the US housing market crash and the rise of the Canadian dollar have all played a part in contributing to the decline.
However, companies within the sector that have moved beyond traditional outputs of northern bleached hardwood kraft pulp, for example, have been finding a renewed success.
As a result, the federal government generated programs to foster this innovation and help some struggling companies to find new legs. Over the last five years, the Canadian government has spent more than $1.5 billion on the forest industry by encouraging renewable energy projects, the Canadian Press said.
The goal of these programs is to develop what Oliver called “value-added” forestry products to help the Canadian forest industry once again become stable.
“This is a process that does not happen overnight,” he said. “Transformation is now a continuous process. In fact, change might well be the only constant in this industry.”
With regards to specific programs that may be extended, Oliver “said additional support could be provided, but declined to identify programs or say if any money will be included in the coming budget, expected in March.”