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Queen's Park offers forest sector more COVID-19 relief

Province to roll out funding to companies for pandemic safety measures
FP Innovations Facebook photo (logging truck)
(FP Innovations photo)

The Ontario government is providing $5.3 million to help the forest sector offset the cost of COVID-19 safety measures.

Companies deemed eligible are engaged in timber tract operations, logging, supply and service, wood product and pulp manufacturing, and employ fewer than 500.

The provincial government expects to roll out funding this spring, depending on when the province receives program funding from the federal government through the Forest Sector Safety Measures Fund.

The funding can be applied toward setting up sanitizing stations, providing enhanced cleaning, additional worker training, measures to increase physical distancing, and to purchase personal protective equipment.

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Funding, up to a maximum of $75,000, is for costs incurred between April 1, 2020 and February 12, 2021 or $500 per full-time equivalent employee, whichever is less.

"Our government is committed to the ongoing economic recovery and growth of the forestry industry," said Natural Resources and Forestry Minister John Yakabuski in a statement.

"This funding will help businesses within this crucial sector overcome the economic challenges they face, ensuring they can continue to keep their doors open, while protecting workers and the communities where they live."

There are more than 1,900 small and medium- sized businesses in Ontario's forest sector, directly employing close to 35,000.

Early last year, the province offered pandemic relief measures to this industry through a six-month deferral of stumpage revenue collection, making $3.5 million for tree planting, and expediting forestry roads funding program.

The forest sector generates over $18 billion in revenue and supports approximately 147,000 direct and indirect jobs across Ontario.

"We know Ontario’s small-and medium-sized forestry businesses are dedicated to keeping their employees safe while remaining operational during these challenging times, and our government is proud to support these efforts," said Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Minister Vic Fedeli.

"Our forestry industry is a vital contributor to our province’s economy, and we are committed to helping it weather this unprecedented storm."