Home PAPTAC 2018 PWC/BIOFOR Coverage The skills-based economy's big secret

The skills-based economy's big secret

The 2018 annual conference of the Canadian pulp and paper industry was launched today with panelists from a range of different horizons. They represent the diversity of the community present every year at PaperWeek Canada: company CEOs and key executives from North American companies, mill personnel, industry suppliers, academia and researchers...

Low Carbon Economy

During the opening breakfast segment, panelists considered different aspects of governmental commitment to the success of the pulp and paper sector. The acceleration of the industry's transition to sustainable growth and advanced manufacturing was discussed in the context of some of the most recent initiatives and actions of federal, provincial and municipal levels. An important segment of the morning's session was dedicated to clean growth in the context of climate change. From carbon pricing leading to industry innovation to funding programs, participants were well served. With coffee and croissants, the table was set for a thought-provoking week of discussions.

The panelists all seemed to agree on the idea that a skills' based economy can only be fueled with a dose of passion. Could this be its secret for success? Fortunately, passion is observed by all discussants and this is particularly motivating to hear from a group of observers who are mostly new in the community of forest product innovators.

Strong winds, strong companies

After welcoming words and a description of this year's conference theme: "Where Skills Lead to Competitiveness," Greg Hay Executive Director of PAPTAC presents the panelists and moderator of today's kick off panel: Daniel Archambault of Kruger. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the 2008 economic downturn that was so central in the recent reinvention of the forest industry in Canada and around the world. "While we are still facing strong winds and a rather stormy weather in the context of trade protectionism, the general outlook is good" said Daniel Archambault.

Robert Beaudry

Robert Beaudry, Member of the executive committee, responsible for economic development, Ville de Montréal welcomed participants in Montreal and explains cities have become key partners on the innovation and commercialization fronts. Arguably, the forest industry is now as active in research labs and universities as it is in the forests of the backcountry.

Luc Blanchette, Minister

For Luc Blanchette, Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks, Québec Government, "the industry had to change because societal needs change".
The attrition of the traditional graphic paper markets in the early 2000s and the financial crisis of 2008 forced pulp and paper companies to consider new roads to attain commercial success. This situation was coupled with ever-stronger pressures from society who is requesting serious action to address the threat of global warming. "In response to this, the Quebec Government wishes that the province will become a North American leader in the realms of renewable energy and energy efficiency, and states in its 2030 energy policy that bioenergy production should increase by more than 50%."

Luc Blanchette explained that the Quebec government has a new approach to financing projects in the sense that it no longer abides by a sole subsidizing method when public participation is desired. Rather the government considers partnerships in a holistic manner. He said that he likes to repeat this message each time he is invited to talk at events organized to underline an investment in the sector and he is pleased that these investments are regular. "Since I am in office, I had about ten opportunities to repeat our commitment to the industry renewal. In a relatively little time, this certainly means things are moving in the right direction."

Innovation and Sustainability

William Amos, Member of Parliament for Pontiac believes "Canada's bioeconomy is dependent on trans-sector collaboration" and observes with optimism the adaptability of the Canadian forest industry. In this context, he is excited to observe an industry in transition and this in his own riding of Pontiac where he was elected in 2015. He believes the industry found many interesting avenues to couple sustainability with innovation and finds this inspiring as an environmental lawyer. The Member of Parliament explains that he observes firsthand that Canada's forest industry has transformed itself into a specialty products based industry. In the region he represents, clusters of innovation is formed between different forest industry companies.

William Amos

On the topic of international trade, William Amos believes the future remains quite difficult to predict due to various variables including an uncertain political and economic climate south of the border. Nevertheless, he stresses Canada's commitment to defend national interests in the renegotiation of NAFTA. What is more, for the parliamentarian "we are going to win in front of all trade tribunals, just like we won in all past disputes".

"You were ahead of the curve"

Johanne Gélinas, CEO, Transition énergétique Québec (TEQ) started her presentation by presenting the organization as a "new public body that is responsible for supporting, encouraging and promoting the energy transition, innovation and efficiency." The public corporation was created as part of Québec's 2030 Energy Policy to ensure Québec's energy transition. "Our mission is to support, encourage, and promote the energy transition and I know your industry already took a large part in this; you were ahead of the curve in comparison to other industries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG)."

Johanne Gélinas, TEQ

Johanne Gélinas presented examples of projects funded under the "EcoPerformance Program". One takes the shape of a collaboration with Tembec in Abitibi. There, improvements should reduce natural gas consumption by 4,453,665 m3/year. This represents an 8,414.4 ton/year reduction in GHG emissions. Financial assistance was of $3.5 million on a total of $6 million.

The residual forest biomass program of TEQ is intended to reduce GHG emissions and fossil fuel consumption by supporting residual forest biomass energy conversion projects. She mentions the program was relaunched in June 2017 with a residual budget of approximately $19 million. Working in a spirit of collaboration with the federal government, she explains that an additional $50 million should soon be available. The $4 million biomass heating plant of Produits forestiers Petit-Paris (PFPP) is a good example of a project funded by TEQ. Here, TEQ provided $1.7 million of the total. For Johanne Gélinas PFPP is a good example of how successful companies integrate a circular economy perspective."

Greg Hay, PAPTAC                                                                                                                       Daniel Archambault, Kruger

Mathieu Régnier, Journalist,
Paper Advance


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