Review of the last year of the Outaouais-Laurentides forestry crisis unit
Elected officials of the liaison committee denounce the inaction of senior officials of the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks
Article published on 7 December 2020
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The elected officials (Chantal Lamarche, Benoît Lauzon and Daniel Bourdon) who participated in the most recent year of the work of the Intervention cell on the vitality of the forest industry in the Outaouais and Laurentides regions have denounced the little progress achieved, despite the very laudable and necessary intentions of the ministers Pierre Dufour and Pierre Fitzgibbon at the origin of the Cell.

"I have often welcomed announcements or ministerial visits in connection with this forestry crisis that is affecting us, however I now understand that it is the administrative machinery of government that does not want to deliver the goods. In senior government office, there is no ball carrier. I ask for the intervention of the two ministers who set up the Cell, because the administrative apparatus is blocked, mired in plans, shackles, mazes and procedures that do not allow to walk in action mode. We ask the ministers to designate a person who will be in charge of administratively advancing this file, which we obviously do not have ”, affirms from the outset Chantal Lamarche, Warden of the MRC de la Vallée-de-Gatineau and president of the Intervention Unit.

The elected officials argue that despite the many meetings, nothing seems to progress. For elected officials, the origin of this impasse is unequivocal: the regional directorate of the Quebec Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks (MFFP) for the Outaouais and Laurentides regions acts neither as an ally nor as a as a facilitator in efforts and solutions to resolve the current crisis which greatly affects communities and forest workers in both regions.

The Outaouais and Laurentides regions are facing significant direct and indirect job losses linked to the forestry industry. The situation persists while simple and feasible solutions have been proposed by the elected members of the Cell Liaison Committee.

"We’ve been talking for a year. The two ministers asked us for solutions. We attended dozens of meetings. We tabled two resolutions to ask, first, for supply costs that take into account the reality of our mixed forests in the Outaouais and the Laurentians. Second, a negotiator was asked to initiate discussions with the First Nation in the Lac Barrière area to reach a longer term partnership agreement. In addition, the little forestry activity that remains generates large volumes of low quality hardwood from the Outaouais and Laurentians without takers. Since then, the survival of the sawmills in these two regions has been endangered, the structure of the forest industry being vulnerable to variations in market conditions ”, specifies Benoît Lauzon, Mayor of Thurso and co-chair of the Liaison Committee .

Jane Toller talks about Davidson Energy
The Warden of the MRC Pontiac, Jane Toller, was present during this meeting. She believes that it is also important to be patient since a report should be submitted within a few days on the future of the forestry industry in the Laurentians and Outaouais.

The peculiarity of the forest found in our two regions does not exist anywhere else on this scale in the other regions of Quebec. You have to go around 4 trees to harvest a single one. This generates additional costs and manufacturers cannot make their operations profitable. The forestry ministry does not seem able to deliver the goods. The consequences for the population, as well as for manufacturers and investors, are enormous. It is known that we have major investment projects that could see the light of day if the MFFP and the MEI were able to offer exceptional measures for our two regions”, the three elected officials conclude.

Remember that the Intervention Unit on the Vitality of the Forest Industry in the Outaouais and Laurentides Regions was created in November 2019. It is a working group that was set up by Minister Dufour and Minister Fitzgibbon, whose mandate is to define and propose innovative and structuring solutions:

1. Produce a portrait of the business environment of the two regions (supply of raw materials, labor, costs and revenues)

2. Develop a common vision of the forest situation

3. Develop a work plan and recommendations to be implemented for the 2020‐2021 season

4. Develop an integrated business model to improve the resilience of the regional industrial structure in the medium and long term

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