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Hundreds of jobs on the line amid latest blow to B.C. forestry sector

There is more trouble in B.C.'s forestry sector, with yet another major operation announcing significant curtailments of production.
There is more trouble in B.C.'s forestry sector, with yet another major operation announcing significant curtailments of production. Dan Couch / Global News

Trouble in B.C.’s forestry sector continues, with yet another curtailment being announced that could affect up to 800 workers.

Surrey-headquartered Teal Jones Group said Tuesday that it was halting all coastal logging operations in the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island.

The company said low lumber prices, high stumpage rates and a weak market for B.C. wood is to blame.

READ MORE: B.C. won’t slash stumpage fees to help struggling forestry sector

The curtailment is estimated to affect some 300 contractors.

Teal Jones also operates two mills and a shake and shingle plant in Surrey, employing about 500 people all together.

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Those facilities will remain in operation so long as they have inventory to work with.

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Company spokesperson Gerrie Kotze is appealing to senior levels of government for help.

READ MORE: Big rally in Mackenzie, B.C., draws attention to continuing lumber crisis

Teal Jones’ curtailment comes a day after West Fraser announced plans to reduce production at five B.C. sawmills by 15-25 per cent, and implement a two-week curtailment on plywood production.

The opposition BC Liberals laid the latest blow to the sector at the feet of the NDP government.

“Forestry jobs are being driven to the United States by this NDP government and every day that goes by without real action from government puts any chance of recovery at risk,” BC Liberal forestry critic John Rustad said in a media release.

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“West Fraser’s announcement is going to have hugely negative impacts on communities across B.C., including towns in my riding like Houston that have already been hit by curtailments implemented by Canfor.”

READ MORE: B.C. billionaire makes bid to privatize lumber giant Canfor

The NDP government said late last month that it had no plans to restructure its stumpage fee schedule, warning that doing so could threaten softwood lumber negotiations with the U.S.

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The American forestry industry has long argued that low B.C. stumpage rates amount to a subsidy of the industry.

The province has said it’s lobbying Ottawa for more EI and early retirement help for workers.