Canfor’s Canal Flats sawmill will be permanently laying off 81 employees as it downsizes from two shifts to one.
The layoff is credited to a lack of economically available fiber, and will go into effect May 4.
“This is devastating news for our members, their families, Canal Flats, surrounding communities and the local union,” said Doug Singer, President of United Steelworkers Local 1-405 in Cranbrook through a release.
Singer noted that the significant layoff, which slashed the mill’s employee numbers by more than half, was not temporary and that Canfor and USW 1-405 had set up a Transition Office at the Canal Flats operation to deal with severance, transfers, pension impacts and moving costs.
The company expects many of those transfers to be to nearby mills in Elko and Radium.
Corinne Stavness, Director of Public Affairs for Canfor, said that, “We will be offering all the employees transfers to other divisions and we will be putting a priority on the local mills as it’s the least disruptive to people to move within the region as opposed to our other mills, which are located across the province … so we do hopefully expect those positions to be filled. However, at this point it’s too early to say, as the Canal Flats mill is currently still operating.”
Stavness said that the company needs employees to first express interest in transferring and they are currently holding off on hiring for available positions at the local mills until they can evaluate employee transfer numbers.
“We hope to keep every single one of our employees, regionally, or if they move. We’re hiring across our company so we sincerely hope we can keep everyone, though we understand it can be tricky,” concluded Stavness.
Singer echoed this statement and said that he, Vice President Doug Wood and Financial Secretary/Business Agent Jeff Bromley would “do everything we can to reduce the impact from this permanent reduction to our members, their families and communities.”