(Files by Brendan Pawliw-MyPGNow)

Council of Forest Industries President Susan Yurkovich says the province has seen it’s fair share of mill downtime due to the challenging conditions.

On Wednesday, Canfor announced the permanent closure of the Isle Pierre sawmill near Prince George while PG Pulp and Paper and Intercontinental Pulp facilities will be curtailed for a month starting July 6th.

Cariboo Pulp and Paper in Quesnel has been down since April 20th, and while the mill is currently in its annual two week maintenance shutdown, there has been no indication from West Fraser, at least so far, if the mill will be back up and running after that.

Yurkovich says it’s a tough time for everyone.

“Unfortunately this is not the first closure that we’ve had, we’ve had a number of permanent closures and temporary curtailments as our industry faces an extraordinary, challenging time.”

She adds they need to find a way to pair down its high fibre costs.

“Fundamentally, we have a cost problem here in the province of British Columbia. Our fibre costs are among the highest of all jurisdictions where we compete so that’s a problem because it means when market prices go down as they did during the front end of this COVID crisis but they also go up and down. When prices go down and you’re a high-cost jurisdiction, your the first ones to go down.”

“We’ve got more than our fair share of downtime and that’s not good for communities, our workers, and our industry, we’ve got to address that and we’ve got to get that right.”

“We’ve got to get our fibre costs back in line and be able to access reasonably priced fibre in order to make the products that the world wants. We see a lot of opportunities ahead.”

Yurkovich adds prior to COVID-19, the industry was already facing a perfect storm and the pandemic has tacked on another layer of difficulty.

“There is a way forward for us, there is going to be recovery and we are going to get our fibre supply and milling capacity in the interior back into balance but unless we the cost challenge that we face than I do worry about more curtailments.”