FPAC urges Canada to recognize forest industry as essential

By Erin Voegele | March 25, 2020

The Forest Products Association of Canada sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on March 20 urging him to recognize the Canadian forest products sector as essential and critical infrastructure during the COVID-29 pandemic.

The letter, authored by FPAC President and CEO Derek Nighbor, explains that recognizing the forest products sector as essential and critical infrastructure will allow the sector to continue serving its customers. “This will enable us to do our work safely and securely, with certainty, in order to produce and deliver products that Canadians want and need—from building materials to biomass for power generation; from food and pharmaceutical packaging to paper towels and toilet paper,” he wrote.

The letter also outlines actions forest sector workers are undertaking to help mitigate the risk of COVID-19. This includes working from home where possible and the implementation of systems to support employees facing potential cases of COVID-19. Those in the forest sector are also modifying schedules to reduce employee contact, suspending and restricting travel, implementing restrictions on visitors, and ramping up sanitation and hygiene measures.

The letter references the guidance released by the U.S. Department of Homeland last week that declared workers who support the manufacture and distribution of forest products as essential critical infrastructure workers. “FPAC is requesting that a similar declaration be made here in Canada,” Nighbor wrote.

“While we recognize and fully support the need to curtail and suspend non- essential service and manufacturing sectors in order to effectively combat the spread of COVID-19, our member companies provide critical products that are needed by the Canadian public and we are urgently requesting that our sector be recognized as such,” he continued. “With your support, we commit to continuing this important work with the health, safety, and wellness of forest sector workers as the top priority.”

A full copy of the letter can be downloaded from the FPAC website