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Feds can't force mill issues: Rusnak

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Following a statement last week by federal NDP candidate for Thunder Bay—Rainy River, Yuk-Sem Won, charging the current Liberal government for its lack of support on the mill issue, MP Don Rusnak said the federal government is ready to assist but cannot force any owner of the mill to open or close the property or force the province to allocate fibre supply. 

“I understand that the closing of the Fort Frances mill has been devastating to the community. Well-paid, skilled jobs have been lost, and with them the economic security for many families,” said Rusnak yesterday.  

“This loss impacts the whole region and has negative consequences for all of us. It is something no community should have to experience,” he added.

However, in order for the mill to continue as a mill, it needs a continuing supply of fibre, noted Rusnak. The decision regarding fibre supply is made by the Province of Ontario and, as he understands it, those discussions with the province continue.

"As the Member of Parliament for the region, my office has worked with prospective purchasers of the mill with respect to federal programs that they may access in order to open the mill and keep it viable in today's competitive market. 

“This government has invested over $350 million into innovation in the forest sector, along with over $87 million into forestry and natural resource technology research,” he added.

The Liberal government has also invested more than $ 315 million into workforce training and skilled-trade development to help communities, unions and trade-organizations develop a modern and competitive workforce.

“This government is ready to assist, but without a supply of fibre the mill will not be able to operate as a mill,” said Rusnak.

"What this government cannot do is unilaterally force any owner of the mill to open or close the property or force the province to allocate fibre supply. Any individual's assertion that this government has done nothing for the forestry sector in Northwestern Ontario shows that they do not understand the issue and would rather score political points than find a solution for the community. 

“As a government, penning angry letters and shaking fists at the moon does not produce results, and never will,” he added.

This government has a plan to grow our resource economy, sustainably and has made real investments to support our workers and natural resource sector, noted Rusnak. 

“We will continue to support the community as discussions on fibre supply continue and remain committed and ready to assist.”

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