Layoffs at B.C. sawmills no cause for concern in northwestern Ontario

Layoffs at sawmills across British Columbia are not an indicator of the health of Ontario’s forest industry, say two insiders with knowledge of Ontario’s sawmill operations.

Twenty-five sawmills in Canada’s westernmost province have shut down in 2019. Three mills have temporarily closed in northwestern Ontario this year, one being closed since April.

While access to wood supply is an issue in B.C., it’s U.S. softwood lumber tariffs causing problems for sawmills in Ontario, said Jamie Lim, the President and CEO of the Ontario Forest Industries Association (OFIA).

“If companies have large sums of money sitting at the border that they can’t use to run their operations, it may leave them with no choice,” said Lim, referring to the shutdowns in Ontario.