I recently spent a week in Ottawa meeting with federal government representatives to discuss the forestry agenda in the lead up to the Federal Budget. As in previous budgets, the leaders of forestry associations across the country recognized that the best approach to advancing the industry was to forward a consolidated and comprehensive agenda with a singular and unified voice. My thanks to the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) team for facilitating this process and assisting greatly in setting up meetings.
At the end of the week, it became clear that our vision and plans for achieving them are highly aligned with the Government of Canada. And, just as importantly, that we must work together as partners to continue to deliver a myriad of benefits from the forest sector.
The federal government-forest sector partnership is critical to driving innovation, advancing transformative technologies, commercializing and deploying clean energy solutions, providing climate mitigation opportunities and supporting market diversity and expansion. All of it is conducted in a manner that continues to provide hundreds of thousands of well-paying middle class jobs, supporting our First Nations partners, providing billions to our national economy and maintaining and improving our world-class environmental practices. Specifically, our agenda for this partnership includes:
- Expanding Market Access and the Use of Wood in Construction. Continue to update building codes and standards¸ based on emerging research, science to reflect the capabilities of modern, wood-based construction products and building systems and ensuring government procurement policies and infrastructure programs takes advantage of these carbon friendly, energy efficient opportunities. In addition, renewing the Expanding Market Opportunities (EMO) program will lend continuing support to the important work of the Canada Wood Group as it expands and diversifies markets across the world and transfers Canadian knowledge and technology.
- Continued Support for World Leading Partnerships in Research and Development. This will ensure that key research institutions like Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and FPInnovations’ build on their successful public-private partnerships to maintain momentum in new idea generation for future innovations in R&D while continuing to strengthen the forest industry’s engagement with academic institutions and building momentum for research that leads to commercialization.
- Bolstering and Accelerating Clean Technology Commercialization. As more nations shift their focus on clean technology, support in this area will call for the continuation of Natural Resources Canada’s successful Investments in the Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) program for the development and production of clean technology. Further, fostering industry wide replication of bio-products and generating bio-economy clusters will ensure wide-spread adoption, commercialization and deployment throughout global markets.
The road ahead for Canadian forestry relies on capitalizing on our existing strengths, enhancing our trading relationships and accelerating emerging transformational pathways and opportunities. To be successful, we must build on our strong, collaborative partnerships between forestry institutions like the Canadian Wood Council, Canada Wood Group, the national and provincial forestry associations and the federal government. These collaborative partnerships will continue to strengthen and expand markets through modernization, innovation, and the growth of the low-carbon economy. We know our visions are aligned. We now must implement and deliver on the comprehensive plan to realize the benefits of this vision.
Rick Jeffrey is the President and CEO of the Coast Forest Products Association