Friday, Darrell Dexter announced a roughly $50 million contribution to the effort to save the Bowater-Mersey mill in Liverpool. The mill produces commercial paper products and newsprint but the paper business is a tough one these days.
Here’s the deal. The forestry sector accounts for 10% of Nova Scotia’s GDP which is significant. Bowater-Mersey employs about 2,000 Nova Scotians at a time when rural Nova Scotia simply can’t handle job losses. Whether by responsibility, practicality or the political reality, the Province had to act.
Here’s what the Dexter New Democrats are contributing to the effort to “save rural jobs”:
- $25M capital loan for improvements aimed at making the operation more efficient;
- $23.7M to purchase 25,000 acres of company-owned land with an option to buy up to 50,000 additional acres;
- Proceeds of the sale must be used to improve the long-term sustainability of the mill.
- The land purchase could also help the province achieve its goal of protecting 12% of Nova Scotia’s land by 2015.
- $1.5M in workforce training through the jobsHere Productivity Investment Program which will ensure employees can keep up with improvements at the mill
Workforce training is an investment that government makes, should make and should make more often. Notwithstanding the crisis, this is a smart move.
Purchasing land which may be used toward our protected land goal of 12% by 2015 is a reasonable move. It is made smarter by the inclusion of the potential for land protection and the requirement that the cash injection be used at this mill to the direct benefit of its long-term viability.