Canfor is closing its Plateau sawmill west of here for one month, citing weak market conditions. The closure is part of a company-wide shutdown of its solid wood operations in B.C. and Alberta beginning Dec. 19.
Some mills, such as Canfor’s mill in Houston are closing for three weeks, but the Plateau is on the four-week closure list.
“Due to the significant decrease in demand for solid wood products and challenging economic conditions, we are temporarily curtailing production in Canada,” said company president and chief executive officer Don Kayne.
“We will be working to mitigate the impacts on our employees by providing support and identifying meaningful work during the downtime.”
The company will be paying its salaried employees as well as its hourly unionized employees for statutory holidays taking place over the closure period.
“This is Canfor going beyond what is in the collective agreement, under which if an employee is not working on a stat, they don’t get that pay until they return to work. We are waiving this requirement to help mitigate the financial impact on our employees,” said company official Michelle Ward in a subsequent email regarding its hourly workforce. A Dec. 5 company release hinted at prolonged uncertainty.
“The company will continue to adjust operating rates to align with market conditions and anticipates that the majority of its B.C. facilities will operate below full capacity in the New Year,” the release said.
The upcoming closure follows what has been a lengthy period of Friday closures already this year.
And that follows occasional shutdowns over the past several years with the company citing high log costs and supply chain problems of various kinds in getting lumber to markets.
The Plateau workforce was already affected this year when the company announced in February that it was cutting 70 jobs by mid-year. At the time, Canfor said its wood supply was being affected by the Mountain Pine Beetle and other setbacks. The job cuts came from eliminating one production line.