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Western Forest Products temporarily closing mills due to COVID-19

Our battered forest industry is taking another hit.

Starting today, Western Western Forest Products is closing its manufacturing facilities in British Columbia due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It’s scheduled to last for up to one week. 

During this time the company says it will re-evaluate business and operating conditions “to determine when these manufacturing operations will resume.” 

“The health and safety of our employees remain our top priority,” said the company’s president and Chief Executive Officer, Don Demens. 

“Western has taken steps to mitigate potential exposure to COVID-19 throughout our operations by implementing strict health and safety protocols. The decision to temporarily curtail manufacturing operations in British Columbia is necessary as we respond to the evolving COVID-19 situation. We will continue to monitor market conditions and government directions in the jurisdictions where we operate and adjust our business as circumstances change.” 

The closure comes roughly a month-and-a-half after the company and the United Steelworkers Union reached a deal, to end the nearly eight-month-long coastal forestry workers strike. 

Packaging and shipping of lumber products will continue to meet customer requirements. 

The company’s Cowichan Bay and Ladysmith sawmills are expected to stay closed into the second quarter due to limited log supply and weak market demand. 

Western will also take steps to minimize its planned capital expenditures in 2020. 

The company plans to incur only safety, environmental and committed capital expenditures in the near-term. 

Going forward, WFP says discretionary capital will remain on hold “until there is greater operational certainty.”

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