Unifor Explores Deeper Forestry Collaboration in Port Alberni

Image Source: Unifor

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Unifor Western Regional Director Gavin McGarrigle met with Minister of State for Sustainable Forestry Innovation Andrew Mercier, representatives from Locals 592 and 686, and Tseshaht First Nations Chief Ken Watts to discuss the forestry industry in British Columbia.

The visit included a tour of the Paper Excellence Port Alberni facility, a mill that provides specialty products and good union jobs for the region.

Prior to the tour, Unifor representatives met with Mercier to discuss the state of the Port Alberni pulp mill and the long-term economic fibre supply. McGarrigle emphasized the need for immediate action to address the challenges facing B.C.'s forestry industry, stating, "British Columbia's mills are competitive internationally and sustain communities in every region of the province. This government has made some progress in undoing the B.C. Liberals' mess, but there is so much more work to be done, and we can be successful if we can all work together—labour, First Nations, governments—to make forestry a top priority."

Despite B.C.'s abundant timber supply, most pulp and paper mills struggle to find consistent fibre supply, leading to inconsistent operations and exposing workers and communities to economic cycles and investment decisions. Fibre supply and strengthening the forestry industry to grow good jobs and support communities is a core component of the joint campaign initiated by Unifor, the United Steelworkers, and the PPWC.

After the mill tour, discussions were held with the Tseshaht First Nation about exploring collaboration on forestry and employment initiatives to secure an ongoing local fibre supply. Unifor representatives also met with Local 592 and 686 leadership to discuss wider collaboration with the Tseshaht on generating good jobs and opportunities for families in the Alberni Valley.