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Last week $100 million was given to the forestry industry in Canada for new green energy technologies. This makes it the only industry in the federal budget to receive targeted money from Ottawa. As well as this injection of cash initiatives have been introduced, such as accelerating write offs in green-energy investments and broadening the work share programme. It is hoped that these changes will encourage more capital investment and help keep jobs in the hard hit sawmilling sector.

“I’m a happy lumberjack,” said Avrim Lazar, president of the Forest Products Association of Canada. “From a forest industry perspective, the government has its priorities right.”

Last year the industry was given $1 billion by Ottawa to develop green technologies with black liquor, which is an alternative fuel produced as a by-product of the pulp making process. Over four years the $100 million budget will be spent promoting the development, commercialisation and implementation of new clean energy technologies.

“We are very happy with that because we see our future in green technology,” Lazar said in a telephone interview.

In the global market the Canadian industry is in danger of falling behind its global competitors, in particular the US. These other countries are receiving billions of dollars of government support in developing green-energy. Currently there has been a movement from the forest products industry towards integrating bio-energy and bio-products with traditional forestry operations. This of course will require new investment capital, which it seems the federal government is happy to supply. Lazar is enthusiastic about the news and says that the budget will help keep jobs in Canada and encourage more investment in green-energy.

“Investors can write off their investments in two years instead of seven. It gives you a faster write off on your investment, which will bring private-sector money in,” he said.

“And the extended employment insurance work-sharing program means some plants can get going faster. They can get going under the work-sharing program and put some jobs into the recovery. Those are very positive moves,” he said.

The forest industry respects the government’s fiscal restraint moves but is certain that there are more opportunities to reallocate existing monies to high priorities and they look forward to working closely with the government on research reallocation. Those in the industry believe there are opportunities for government scientists to work with industry scientists and academics in order to use the existing money in a more focused way to support keeping jobs in Canada.


Extpub | by Dr. Radut