Shift reduction will cost jobs at Tolko's Kelowna sawmill; Quesnel's mill will be closed - InfoNews

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Shift reduction will cost jobs at Tolko's Kelowna sawmill; Quesnel's mill will be closed

Tolko mill in Kelowna.
May 10, 2019 - 4:58 PM

VERNON - Around 90 workers at the Tolko sawmill in Kelowna will be losing their jobs due to a shift reduction, while around 150 employees will be out of work when the Vernon-based company's Quesnel operation closes.

Tolko Industries will reduce the shifts at its Kelowna sawmill from two to one in June, and will permanently close the Quest Wood sawmill in Quesnel in August, according to a media release from the company issued today, May 10.

"This is a difficult but necessary decision,” Brad Thorlakson, CEO of Tolko Industries says in the release. "Unfortunately, we do not have enough economic fibre to keep all of our British Columbia mills running efficiently and productively.

"We knew that AAC reductions were coming in British Columbia due to the devastation caused by the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic. The curtailments announced today are sooner than anticipated due to uneconomic log costs, weak lumber markets, and the catastrophic impacts of wildfires," he says.

The shift reduction at the Kelowna mill is effective on July 12, 2019. About 90 employees are expected to be impacted.

In Quesnel, the company estimates about 150 employees are impacted; the tQuest Wood sawmill closure process will begin on Friday, August 2, 2019.

Tolko’s human resource team is providing support to employees at both mills throughout the transition, Tolko says. The employees will be offered job opportunities at other Tolko divisions.

“This is a business decision and does not reflect on the commitment or work of our employees at these two operations," Thorlakson says. "They have made significant contributions to Tolko over many years, and we are grateful for their efforts.”

An estimated 250 million board feet will be removed from Tolko’s production in B.C. as a result of these changes, Tolko says.

Tolko is a North American manufacturer of forest products including lumber, plywood, veneer, oriented strand board, co-products, biomass power and a growing number of specialty wood products, the release states.


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