Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Natural Resources Study Calls for More Fed Investment in New Forestry Technology

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Natural Resources Study Calls for More Fed Investment in New Forestry Technology

Article excerpt

Study asks feds to invest in new forest tech

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OTTAWA - The federal government needs to offer money, training and incentives to ensure a technological revolution in the forestry industry creates well-paid jobs at home rather than abroad.

That's the main finding of a new study Natural Resources Canada commissioned to find ways to support Canada's billion-dollar forestry-equipment sector.

Canada's traditional forestry products -- softwood lumber and pulp-and-paper -- have struggled in recent years, as American housing construction fell sharply after the 2008 global meltdown and as more consumers get their information digitally rather than on paper.

The bio-fuels and biomaterials industries, which provide new uses for wood fibre, offer fresh opportunities for Canadian producers to make up for the losses -- but the high-tech equipment to produce them is increasingly coming from abroad.

A report by Groupe DDM says Ottawa and the provinces should start offering incentives for mills to buy Canadian technology rather than looking to foreign manufacturers.

The federal government also needs to provide more worker training, and to finance marketing campaigns to help sell these new high-tech Canadian products to more customers.

"Canadian wood transformers ... heavily rely on foreign-made equipment, even in those fields where Canada seems to have equivalent equipment," says the study from March.

"Canadian forest equipment manufacturers are competing against world giants in spite of their relatively smaller size. High-tech, well-paid jobs in innovation and development are provided to other countries, especially Sweden, Finland, Germany, Austria and the United States."

A copy of the $76,000 study was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

There are an estimated 365 Canadian firms in the forestry-equipment manufacturing sector, employing more than 57,000 people and worth about a billion dollars annually. …

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