Production will be cut back to approximately 80% at all of Canfor’s mills across B.C., starting last week, impacting over 200 workers in the East Kootenay. According to Canfor, the reduction in hours is in response to an unstable lumber market.
“Due to challenging market conditions, we are implementing reduced operating schedules at our B.C. sawmills that will remain in place until demand and pricing meaningfully improve. We recognize the impact that volatile lumber markets have on our employees, contractors and communities and we will make efforts to mitigate the negative effects,” said Stephen Mackie, Executive Vice President, North America, Canfor. “We will also leverage our global operating platform to minimize disruptions in supply to our customers.”
This comes after lumber producers were benefiting from a high-priced market.“As close as two months ago, they were getting record-high prices for their products into the U.S. market. Then the supply and demand law of economics came into play and a lot of supply came back onto the market from the mills,” said Jeff Bromley, Wood Council Chair with United Steelworkers. “Then the market crashed, it actually fell off a cliff. They were fetching anywhere in the neighbourhood of $1,500 U.S. or more per 1,000 board feet a few months ago, and now that number is down to between $500 and $600.”
Bromley said stumpage fees are also making an impact on Canfor’s bottom line, as they are still priced based on market conditions of about four months ago. The union, however, feels this cutback is unjust to sawmill employees. Bromley added that the cutbacks will likely be in place until the market rises once again.