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UPDATE - A Vision for Prosperity in Ontario's Forestry Sector PDF

Premier McGuinty Commits $220 Million To Help Rural and Northern Communities Succeed
 

TORONTO, Feb. 22 /CNW/ - The government is strengthening Ontario's forest sector by investing $220 million over the next three years to help with the cost of forest access roads and reduce stumpage fees paid by companies, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced today.

"Families and communities throughout Ontario rely on forestry to build a higher quality of life and create a brighter future," said Premier McGuinty. "That's why we're working with the sector to help control its costs and achieve its vision of a more innovative, competitive and sustainable future."


Today's announcement includes:
 
    -  $47 million to support the construction and maintenance costs of
       primary and secondary access roads - this funding is in addition to
       the previously announced $28 million, for a total of $75 million
       annually;
    -  $70 million in refunds to the industry as a result of reducing
       stumpage fees retroactively for 2005-06; and
    -  $3 million a year for the next three years by reducing stumpage fees
       for poplar veneer and white birch.
 
These and other measures, including last year's commitment of $680 million in support, will help Ontario companies secure and create jobs by reducing the cost of delivering wood to processing facilities. 

 "We are committed to supporting the province's forest sector and building economic prosperity," said Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay. "Our goal is to help the sector meet the challenges it currently faces and become more competitive in the global marketplace." 

 "Today's announcement is a home run by a government that has done more for the forest industry than any other government," said Jamie Lim, President of the Ontario Forest Industries Association. "It will pay huge returns for the people of this province in terms of jobs, the generation of wealth and tax contributions from the industry that annually exceed $1 billion." 

 "The government deserves to be thanked and congratulated," said Greenstone Mayor and President of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association Michael Power. "The measures announced today will have positive effects on not just the north, but the entire province." 

 Ontario's forest sector is one of the province's economic engines. It supports 200,000 direct and indirect jobs and has annual sales and exports of approximately $27 billion. 

     The government has been working with the sector to overcome challenges posed by a high Canadian dollar and the emergence of low-cost, offshore producers. 

 The Premier congratulated the sector for progress it has made toward its vision of larger, efficient and competitive commodity-based facilities and smaller, more diverse and specialized value-added businesses. He also challenged the federal government to come to the table. 

 "I urge the federal government to uphold commitments made by the previous government and support the forest industry," said Premier McGuinty. "If we all do our part, we will achieve success for our people and success for this pivotal sector of our economy."
 
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www.premier.gov.on.ca