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Mill layoffs irk Hampton

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NDP leader Howard Hampton yesterday demanded answers from Dalton McGuinty about northern workers on layoff because of the premier’s support for Stephen Harper’s softwood sell-out.

In Question Period, Hampton raised the case of workers at the McKenzie Forest Products mill (a division of Buchanan Forest Products) in Hudson, near Sioux Lookout.

Effective April 28, a full shift at the sawmill and a full shift at the planer mill will get the axe. Some 110 workers will be laid off from their jobs.

The company says a big reason for the layoffs is the impact of the Canada-U.S. softwood lumber agreement.

“For many communities, Dalton McGuinty’s policy of raising hydro rates through the roof has been a body blow,” said Hampton.

“For communities like Sioux Lookout, Liberals supporting Stephen Harper’s softwood sell-out has been the knockout punch,” he charged.

“Premier, you knew the softwood sell-out would kill jobs. How could you sign it and abandon forest industry communities and workers?” Hampton asked.

All told, northern forestry communities have lost 32,000 direct and indirect jobs on McGuinty’s watch because of the forest industry crisis.

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