Saskatchewan sawmill about to shut down; workers given layoff notices

PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. – A Saskatchewan sawmill is shutting down and its remaining 12 workers have been given layoff notices.

Operations at Carrier Forest Products in the Prince Albert area are to cease entirely later this month.

Shane Vermette (ver-METT’) with the Ministry of Economy says the downturn of the forest industry in 2006 continues to be felt.

He says it’s been difficult ever since to find contractors to run logging equipment and trucks to deliver timber, so it’s not feasible to run both mills.

Vermette says all the workers at the Prince Albert sawmill have been offered jobs at Carrier’s Big River operation.

He says they have the option of returning to the Carrier mill once it reopens.

Optimism remains high in the forest industry, he says, because lumber prices are expected to remain strong.

“Lumber prices have increased dramatically in 2013 and they’re in fact expected to remain strong for several years,” Vermette said. “This is largely due to the emergence of several Asian economies, most notably China, and also the recent surge in U.S. housing starts.”

The ministry anticipates several mills reopening.

Paper Excellence has indicated it will start production at the old Prince Albert pulp mill site by the summer of 2015. And a plywood mill in Hudson Bay, owned by Edgewood Forest Products, has indicated it may open in the next year or two, depending on international market prices.