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Vaugeois fears ‘loss of expertise’ following layoffs

By Adam Riley Jan 4, 2024 | 3:37 PM

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Thunder Bay – Superior North MPP Lise Vaugeois says outside the box thinking is needed following the sudden idling of the pulp mill in Terrace Bay this week, with no timeline provided for a possible restart.

400 workers have been affected by the lay off, which has been attributed to a downturn in the pulp market according to the mill’s ownership group, AV Terrace Bay.

Vaugeois says she is still somewhat in a bit of shock and disbelief as she knows pulp is still needed in various forms of manufacturing and believes the decision to idle the facility comes down simply to a matter of profits not being high enough for shareholders.

“Those are two different things, the need for a product and the usefulness for the mill and whether its generating high enough profits for a Fortune 500 corporation that has billions, and billions and billions of dollars in assets.”

She notes this will have an impact for communities across the north shore from Marathon through to Thunder Bay and has spoken with Natural Resources and Forestry Minister Graydon Smith who has pledged support.

“He was certainly very concerned and he said to me they are committed to helping. I don’t know what that looks like and perhaps they haven’t figured that out themselves yet. As you say this is all happening very quickly.”

She believes all levels of government need to be at the table as soon as possible to come up with solutions.

Terrace Bay is one of three remaining pulp mills in Northwestern Ontario, the others are located in the neighbouring ridings of Thunder Bay – Atikokan and Kenora-Rainy River represented by fellow MPP’s Kevin Holland and Greg Rickford respectively.

While she hasn’t spoken to either Holland or Rickford yet regarding the situation, Vaugeois says when she spoke with Smith, she did bring up the Thunder Bay and Dryden operations.

“What Mr. Smith said to me was that Dryden was able was able to get a buyer, Thunder Bay was bought out by a different company, so he believes there are buyers out there…but I’m sure those worries are there in every community.”

Additionally this layoff comes within a month of where almost 100 workers were laid off at the Lac Des Iles Mine, north of Thunder Bay, which surprised her as it is another sector which plays a key role in not just the region, but the province’s economy.

In the meantime, Vaugeois says she will be there to support the affected workers and to fight for fairness for workers.