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Canfor permanently closes pulp line in Prince George, cuts 300 jobs

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B.C. forestry giant Canfor Pulp says it is permanently closing the pulp line at one of its Prince George mills, which will result in about 300 jobs lost.

The move comes as several forestry companies around the world are downsizing their operations due to changes in the market.

Kevin Edgson says the lack of raw material for creating market pulp led to the decision.

“In recent years, several sawmills have permanently closed in the Prince George region due to deductions in the allowable annual cut and challenges accessing cost-competitive fibre,” the Canfor president and CEO said in a written statement.

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“This has had a material impact on the availability of residual fibre for our pulp facilities and we need to right-size our operating platform.”

The pulp line converted wood fibre into market kraft pulp, which is used for the manufacture of products including paper, tissues and towels.

The company says the pulp line at its Prince George Pulp and Paper Mill will be phased out by the end of March, cutting approximately 300 positions across the organization.

“We expect about 300 jobs in Prince George will be lost across the Canfor Pulp organization with the shutdown of the pulp line at PG Pulp and Paper Mill. This includes staff and hourly positions,” a spokesperson for the company said in an email statement.

“We will be working closely with the Public and Private Workers of Canada Local 9 which represents our employees at both the PG Pulp and Intercon mills to ensure that the Collective Agreement is followed and to support employees who are losing their job through this transition.”

A specialty paper facility at the mill will continue to operate.

Reduced operations across the industry

Canfor operates a total of four mills in Prince George, including a sawmill, the Prince George Pulp and Paper Mill, Northwood Pulp Mill and Intercontinental Pulp, each specializing in different wood and paper products.

However, operations at these locations have been curtailed in recent months.

Last week, the company said it would be extending sawmill curtailments across B.C. due to what it says are ongoing weak economic conditions and a lack of available fibre, affecting workers in Prince George, Chetwynd, Vanderhoof and Houston, B.C.

Smoke billows out of a mill in the background, with a bridge in the foreground.
One of Canfor’s mills is pictured in the background. The company says operations at its mills have been curtailed in recent months. (CBC News)

Similarly, Tolko Industries announced the extension of downtime at its Soda Creek and Armstrong Lumber operations, citing market uncertainty, a move impacting more than 350 employees.

And earlier Wednesday, Burnaby-based Interfor Corp., said it will be reducing lumber production by at least eight per cent this quarter as market uncertainty affects demand.

Those cuts, the company said, will likely impact its operations in the U.S. — a move similar to that made by the B.C.-based West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd., who on Tuesday said it would indefinitely curtail its Perry Sawmill in Florida later in January due to high fibre costs and softening lumber markets.

The lumber market has gone through unprecedented volatility in prices in recent years as the industry went through supply and demand shocks brought on in part by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premier warns B.C.’s forests under ‘stress’

Last month, B.C. premier David Eby warned that the province’s forestry sector has “never been under greater stress.”

In his mandate letter to new forests minister Bruce Ralston, Eby wrote there is an “inescapable recognition that change is needed to ensure our forest industry is sustainable.”

Piles of logs are pictured at a sawmill.
Logs are pictured at a sawmill in Merritt, B.C., in February 2022. Premier David Eby warned that the province’s forestry sector has ‘never been under greater stress.’ (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Bob Simpson, former mayor of Quesnel and former B.C. cabinet minister currently serving on a forestry advisory committee for the province, says although the forest industry has gone through change in the past, it’s never been as significant as what is currently underway.

“I think it’s a higher degree of curtailments across the province, across the sector, that’s added a higher degree of uncertainty against the backdrop of pretty significant inflationary measures,” he said in an interview on CBC Daybreak North last week.

He also said the decline is the result of the industry failing to adapt to a changing economic and environmental climate, spending years clear-cutting and exporting raw logs for short-term profits rather than long-term sustainability.

“That model is really collapsing.”

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Big banks raise prime lending rates to 6.7% after Bank of Canada hike – Global News

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Canada’s six biggest banks raised their prime lending rates following an eighth consecutive increase to the Bank of Canada’s benchmark interest rate.

The central bank’s target for the overnight rate now sits at 4.5 per cent following a quarter-point hike on Wednesday.

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The central bank’s policy rate sets borrowing rates for other lending institutions, which feeds into terms for Canadian consumer loans like mortgages.

After Wednesday’s decision, TD Bank, Scotiabank, BMO, RBC, CIBC and National Bank all raised their prime lending rate by 25 basis points to 6.7 per cent.

This marks the highest point for the prime lending rate in Canada since 2001, according to data from RateSpy.com.

Believing inflation is set to “decline significantly,” the Bank of Canada signalled Wednesday that it was ready for a pause after 425 basis points of hikes to its policy rate.


Click to play video: 'Options for homeowners struggling with mortgage payments'

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Options for homeowners struggling with mortgage payments


&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Home Depot investigation: Data shared without consent

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OTTAWA –

Retailer Home Depot shared details from electronic receipts with Meta, which operates the Facebook social media platform, without the knowledge or consent of customers, the federal privacy watchdog has found.

In a report released Thursday, privacy commissioner Philippe Dufresne said the data included encoded email addresses and in-store purchase information.

The commissioner’s investigation discovered that the information sent to Meta was used to see whether a customer had a Facebook account.

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If they did have an account, Meta compared what the customer bought at Home Depot to advertisements sent over the platform to measure and report on the effectiveness of the ads.

Meta was also able to use the customer information for its own business purposes, including user profiling and targeted advertising, unrelated to Home Depot, the commissioner found.

It is unlikely that Home Depot customers would have expected their personal information to be shared with a social media platform simply because they opted for an electronic receipt, Dufresne said in a statement.

He reminded companies that they must obtain valid consent at the point of sale to engage in this type of activity.

“As businesses increasingly look to deliver services electronically, they must carefully consider any consequential uses of personal information, which may require additional consent.”

Home Depot told the privacy commissioner it relied on implied consent and that its privacy statement, available through its website and in print upon request at retail outlets, adequately explained the company’s use of information. The retailer also cited Facebook’s privacy statement.

The commissioner rejected Home Depot’s argument, saying the privacy statements were not readily available to customers at the checkout counter, adding shoppers would have no reason to seek them out.

“The explanations provided in its policies were ultimately insufficient to support meaningful consent,” Dufresne said.

He recommended that Home Depot stop disclosing the personal information of customers who request an electronic receipt to Meta until it is able to put in place measures to ensure valid consent.

Home Depot fully co-operated with the investigation, agreed to implement the recommendations and stopped sharing customer information with Meta in October, the commissioner said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2023.

 

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Meta funds a limited number of fellowships that support emerging journalists at The Canadian Press.

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Rent increased more than 18% last year for new tenants, new numbers show – CBC News

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A surge in demand pushed Canada’s rental market to its tightest level in two decades last year, with the vacancy rate in purpose-built apartments dipping below two per cent and rent for new tenants going up by 18 per cent.

Those were some of the main takeaways from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s annual report on the state of Canada’s rental market.

The figures cited above were for purpose-built rental apartments, so they don’t include what’s happening in condos, or in apartments built out of occupied family homes.

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For purpose-built rentals, the national vacancy rate fell to 1.9 per cent last year, its lowest level since 2001. 

Booming demand for apartments pushed up the price to get one, too, with the average rent hitting $1,258 a month. That was up by 5.6 per cent from the previous year’s level, and roughly twice the annual average seen for the past 30 years.

But rent didn’t go up at the same pace for every unit.

Apartments where there was a change in tenants saw the rent go up by 18.9 per cent. Those where there was no change in tenancy saw rents go up by only 2.9 per cent, on average. “This reflects the fact that, once a tenant vacates a unit, landlords are generally free to increase asking rents to current market levels,” the CMHC said.

That gap was even more stark in two of Canada’s biggest cities, Toronto and Vancouver, where average rents for a unit that saw a tenant change went up by 29 and 24 per cent, respectively.

Geordie Dent, the executive director of the Federation of Metro Tenants Association, has spent more than a decade as a watchdog for the rental market in Toronto. He says the situation is as dire as he’s ever seen, with a surge in so-called “renovictions,” where landlords are eager to take advantage of higher market rents by evicting tenants and raising rents to someone new

“There’s an incentive for them to try to illegally evict people and raise the rent,” he told CBC News in an interview. He says he hears stories every day of people staying in unsuitable housing situations because of desperation. “They’re afraid that if they get kicked out of their current place for a new one, rent’s going to be like $1,000 higher.”

WATCH | ‘Renovictions’ becoming common, tenant advocate says: 

Toronto tenant advocate says market is dire

6 hours ago

Duration 6:07

Geordie Dent, the executive director of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Association, says the situation in Toronto’s rental market is the worst he’s ever seen.

Things aren’t much better across the country in Vancouver, either. The vacancy rate fell to just 0.9 per cent, with the average price for a two-bedroom hitting $2,002 a month. That’s up by 5.7 per cent from last year, but it’s up by 24 per cent among units that have seen a tenancy change.

Some of those in the lower mainland’s rental market fear the system is irreparably broken.

Vinny Cid was working and living in Victoria, but when his job allowed him to work remotely in 2021, he made the decision to move home with his parents. 

He, his sibling and his two parents share a rental home in Richmond, B.C. for $2,800 a month which suits their needs, but he says they are only able to get that because his parents have lived in the unit since 2016.

“The rental situation has devolved quickly,” he told CBC News in an interview Thursday. “I check rental listings almost daily, and something similar today would cost $4,000 or more.”

“It’s depressing to see how prices have spiraled out of control very quickly,” he said.

While his situation works for him for now, should his employment or needs change, he suspects he would have to leave the province, or even the country. And he says he worries for those who don’t have the income and family support he has.

“Everybody is being told to either improvise or get pushed out,” he said. “In terms of outlook, it doesn’t look good.”

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