Paper Excellence Canada is closing its pulp mill in Mackenzie at the end of June, putting 253 people out of work.
“Paper Excellence has substantially invested to improve mill operations since acquiring the Mackenzie facility in 2010,” according to a statement issued by the company Friday morning. “Despite best efforts by the company and its committed team of employees in Mackenzie, the COVID-19 global pandemic is having negative impacts on pulp markets creating conditions that no longer support the on-going operation of the mill. Furthermore, the deep fibre shortage in B.C. and the Mackenzie region have affected the mill’s competitiveness. This shortage was exacerbated by recent curtailment of sawmills in the Mackenzie region dramatically reducing economic fibre availability.”
Close to 1,000 people rallied in Mackenzie last August with the theme “Our Logs, Our Jobs,” protesting the fact that much of timber harvested in the area is processed out of the area.
“We do have a robust fibre supply,” Mackenzie Mayor Joan Atkinson told members at the rally last summer. “It is time for all us to work collaboratively and identify what is not working and what is needed to fix it.”
She said forest policy has to change in the province.
“Mackenzie is not prepared to become the supplier of logs to facilities in other parts of the province while our mills sit idle,” she said.
Paper Excellence says its priority is to support the 253 employees affected by the closure. Where possible, it is hoped some offers of secondment can be made to some of its other facilities across Canada. Meanwhile, the terms of the collective agreement with UNIFOR local 1092 will be respected through the process.
During the shut down, Paper Excellence says it is committed to ensuring the safety of the mill facility and protection of the community and the receiving environment. A small team of employees will provide around the clock security and monitoring, according to the statement.
Paper Excellence will continue to supply pulp and paper customers with production from its other operating mills in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.