Many people are deeply worried about the future of Fort Frances, Ontario after Resolute Forest Products announced the indefinite idling of both the kraft mill and of paper machine #5.
239 lay off notices were sent out yesterday. Approximately 200 employees will stay on to operate paper machine #7.
Larry Kellar, president of Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Local 92, told the Fort Frances Times that he expects some mill workers will stay around to see if the kraft mill and paper machine #5 are restarted, but he thinks many will leave.
Kellar said he believes it is vital for the mill to find a market for selling kraft. Last month the Boise Inc. paper mill in across the river in International Falls, Minnesota stopped regular pulp purchases from the Fort Frances mill.
“Truth be told, if they can’t bounce back from this, this mill will not survive with one machine, not forever,” warned Kellar, adding the paper machines in Fort Frances are smaller than at many other mills.
Fort Frances’ mayor, Roy Avis, said a shutdown had been rumoured for some time but the news yesterday was grim nonetheless.
Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell said, “This is a very difficult day for Fort Frances and all of Northwestern Ontario, and my thoughts are with the 239 workers and their families who have been affected by this decision.”
Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP John Rafferty said yesterday’s announcement of 239 layoffs at the local mill “are devastating for the workers and their families, and are a significant threat to the struggling Northwestern Ontario economy.”
“This news came as a shock today,” Rafferty said. “My heart goes out to the families and constituents who are directly and indirectly affected by these layoffs. My staff and I are ready to assist anyone who will be affected by this devastating announcement.”
Kraft mill, #5 machine idled (Fort Frances Times Online)
Poll: How do you feel about the future of Fort Frances? (Fort Frances Times Online)