Federal Aid Package to Ease the Hardships for Millworkers and Communities
Last week Canada's Human Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal announced a federal softwood aid package worth almost $250 million to ease the pain caused by the softwood lumber dispute between the US and Canada.
The package includes $71 million to assist displaced workers, this builds upon the existing services available through the Employment Insurance Program. Three new initiatives have been developed, they are;?The Work Sharing While Learning initiative, designed to encourage employers to invest in retraining employees as part of their restructuring efforts. The initiative will be available in areas of high unemployment, ?the Increased Referrals to Training initiative, supporting individuals who are facing job loss, in shifting to new employment opportunities. It will also be available in areas of high unemployment 10% and greater and the Older Workers Pilot Projects Initiative helping older workers remain employed or reintegrate into the labour force, it will continue to test what active employment measures work best. The initiative is available in all EI Economic Regions.
The aid package will also include, $25.5 million for research projects in Quebec , ?$110 million for a national Softwood Industry and Community Adjustment Fund to support community economic development (the Government of Canada will work with provinces and communities to ensure the effectiveness of the fund) and $40 million for targeted measures to address the mountain pine beetle epidemic in British Columbia.
Critics of the package have suggested that it is not adequate, Forestry unions wanted $1billion to help workers, including pension-bridging to encourage older workers to retire and the Quebec government said it would need $400 million a year to support its lumber sector, the second largest exporter after BC. A number of smaller producers were hoping for loan guarantees to help see them through the difficulties of dealing with the 27% tariff during negotiations through NAFTA, but this is not a part of the package. Concerns that the US Lumber Industry would view such loan guarantees as unfair subsidies would undermine Canada's case, say some experts. "There is nothing wrong with governments helping out workers as long as the governments are not relieving companies of the costs they incur" says a lawyer for the US coalition of Fair Lumber Imports.
These measures are in addition to those announced earlier this year - $95 million in funding for softwood lumber research and development, market expansion initiatives and advocacy efforts. The total aid so far, $341.5 million to help address the effects of the softwood lumber trade dispute and to advance Canada's position. With no end in sight to this dispute, there are signs that things may be looking up for Canada. A recent Reuters report has shown that even after many months of the crippling duties, demands of a booming US housing market are still being met by Canadian lumber companies who are simply cutting and exporting more wood than ever in an attempt to cover their costs. The failure of the 27% duty to discourage Canadians from selling their lumber in the US has convinced many in the trade industry that governments will feel the pressure to end the dispute and focus on finding another way to stabilize the trade.
World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled that U.S. duties on Canadian softwood lumber exports violate international trade rules.
"The WTO has found in favour of our position that the U.S. preliminary subsidy determination was flawed and disproves the methods of calculation. The WTO is telling Canadians: you were right," Minister Pettigrew said. "This decision reinforces our position and injects increased optimism in our unified approach."
The WTO agreed with Canada that the United States' finding that Canadian provincial stumpage programs are countervailable subsidies was not made in accordance with WTO rules. The Government of Canada, the provinces and industry have initiated three reviews under the NAFTA dispute settlement process regarding the U.S. final subsidy, dumping and injury determinations. Those decisions are expected in 2003.
In the meantime, the federal aid package is expected to only temporarily salve the hurt since Dhaliwal has said that it is based on a premise that the dispute should be resolved within two years.
A survey by IWA Canada has estimated that more than 7000 workers have been directly affected by the lumber war across Canada and a BC government stats agency has predicted that 16,000 jobs could be lost here in this province if the dispute drags on for an extended length of time.
For more information on the enhanced services for displaced workers available through Human Resources, contact the Human Resource Centre of Canada in Chilliwack (or the one nearest you) or go to their website www.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca.
North Bend Recollections (1926-1938)
No. 7 North Bend Hotels W.(Bill) Young
With the completion of its railroad across Canada in the 1880's, the Canadian Pacific Railway Company began an ambitious project to build a chain of hotels from coast to coast to attract customers. Construction began on the first three of these in the latter 1880's. These three original hotels were Mount Stephen House (opened October l886), Glacier House (opened January, l887) and Fraser Canyon House in North Bend (opened January l887). Each of these three original C.P.R. hotels was designed by British architect Thomas Sorby.
We have a framed photograph of Fraser Canyon House displayed in our home. It was of wooden construction, three stories high with an open wrap around porch or veranda on at least two of its four sides. The well-kept manicured lawns in front of the hotel are clearly visible.
Unfortunately, the original Fraser Canyon House was destroyed by fire around 1927. Immediately, the C.P.R. began plans for a replacement hotel which was completed in 1929. Architects would describe this 1929 building as "Prairie Style with Tudor Revival Front". It was this hotel that I remember while living in North Bend in the 1930's.
To me, this was by far the most deluxe building in town. Kids like me were not allowed inside unless accompanied by an adult. Although I don't recall my mother ever being in the hotel, I was allowed in (accompanied by my father, of course) on three of four occasions. I have two vivid recollections of the lobby area. The first was the plush carpets covering the floor area while the second was the liberal distribution of spittoons throughout.
Outside, the hotel was no less impressive to a young boy. A wide paved walkway and steps led up from the railway platform to the hotel's lobby door. Beautiful flower gardens along the wide expanse of well-kept lawns was the setting for two attractive fish ponds with fountains that were turned on with the arrival of the multi-daily passenger trains. All this must have initiated many compliments from travellers as the passenger trains paused for their regular North Bend ten-minute stop.
The C.P.R. employee for these beautiful gardens and lawns that provided the attractive setting for Fraser Canyon House was a Chinese gardener by the name of Kim. Kim was a most friendly individual. He was always ready to exchange a friendly smile and "hello" with all the kids of North Bend.
Fraser Canyon House was not the only hotel built in North Bend. The C.P.R. must have encouraged private investment in town as a privately-owned hotel (Mount View Hotel) was built just a few years following the completion of the original Fraser Canyon House. But more about the Mount View Hotel in some future "North Bend Recollections" article.
Finally, whenever I pay a visit to North Bend, I walk around the grounds of the long gone Fraser Canyon House and drift back to the time of plush carpets, manicured lawns, fish ponds, fountains and, yes, even the spittoons. (I'd like to hear from any readers who may have lived in North Bend in the 1930's.
E-mail: Billem@islandnet.com Next Recollection "Medical Care in North Bend".
RCMP ReportPolice recovered a blue Buick stolen from Vancouver, no suspect was found, the vehicle had been abandoned around Blue lake.
A Black Ford Ranger pick-up stolen from Boston Bar was recovered last week in Sicamous.
On Tuesday Oct 15, a late 80's red Ford Mustang stolen from Burnaby was found abandoned up the Anderson. It had been completely stripped of it's parts.
During the weekend of Oct. 12 &13, several bags of returnable bottles and cans were taken from Family Place. The bottles and cans were part of a fundraising effort for Playschool.
Boston Bar needs Town Signage
The Boston Bar North Bend Enhancement Society is putting out feelers around town for ideas for town signs. It is being left wide open to ideas from town members. These signs would be constructed at the town limits to welcome travellers to our community. Hopefully the designs would be a reflection of who we are. Ideally, this job would be done locally. Contact a member of the Enhancement Society for more information.