Wood Business

Features Harvesting Logging Profiles
Survey snippet 15: What are contractors saying?


November 17, 2020
By Ellen Cools


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Just like in 2018, this year’s CFI Contractor Survey gave respondents the opportunity to add their own thoughts to the conversation about the challenges facing Canada’s logging contractors. Here’s a sample of what they had to say. Multiple contractors spoke about a lack of market for fibre, financial challenges, and government intervention.

“Capital depreciation on equipment is the biggest concern, and the forest companies don’t seem to get it.”

“Lack of total 100 per cent investment in government provincially and federally to make a shift towards uneven aged stand management and wildfire fuel reduction through massive thinning projects. Too many big tenure holders unloading our provinces’ fibre wealth while the contractors and mill workers make a living wage. Total destruction of our land base for very little local economic gains. Climate change is upon us and they’re still raping the hillside and people are still losing jobs and companies are going broke while massive corporate share holder dividends are paid out. […] Save our workers and our land base from total liquidation and involve our First Nations more, build fibre wealth like Scandanavian countries do/did. Free the land base for wood lots, give the people back the power to grow jobs and real economic change. These giants – Canfor, Interfor, West Fraser, Tolko, the list is long ¬– they have ruined our competitively Canadian advantage by liquidation of our most precious resource and jobs.”

“Looks bleak as the licensees have driven down rates and contract conditions to the point where there is no return in the business, hence no entrants can access financing for purchasing.”

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“Mills have closed in N.S. due to shut down of Northern Pulp. No market for wood at present.”

“Specific to our area, we’re in challenging times not having a pulp market due to the closure of Northern Pulp in Pictou County.”

“Tenure reform in B.C. to address the current monopoly licensees have. Increase in volume for BCTS, less volume for licensees. Completion of the contractor sustainability review.”

“The biggest challenge for young people in this industry is no financial institutions want to work with young people to allow for new contractors.”

“The N.S. Gov’t closed our pulp mill and we need a Gov’t committed to getting the pulp mill up and running as we desperately need a pulp market.”

“I don’t enjoy any of it anymore. Work long days, risk everything I have for a marginal salary and no profits. Logging contracting is a terrible business venture.”

“Simple solution to dying and struggling contractor force is to increase rates, lower stumpage to help increase logging rates and simplify regulations and make regulations less burdensome for logging contractors.”

“Smaller companies need better access to their own fibre. Government should make more small tenures that exclude larger corporations to give smaller producers the ability to send wood to niche markets and maximize value, create innovations on a local scale. First Nations opportunities do not appear as lucrative or available as they’re meant to be. It seems larger corporations are the only ones able to attract attention and acquire any significant partnership deals.”

“[Opportunities exist around] Increased logging rates, lowering of stumpage and less regulations and regulatory requirements to be met.”

Missed last week’s survey snippet? Find a collection of reports published to date here. Look for more news from the CFI 2020 Contractor Survey in our eNews over the coming weeks, with a final digital report in December and a summary in the November/December print issue. Be sure to subscribe to our free eNews to get all the latest industry news.

This survey was conducted in April and May 2020 by independent research firm Bramm & Associates, generating 271 replies to a detailed list of questions. Respondents were distributed according to the geographic breakdown of the forest industry, with 44 per cent of respondents in Western Canada, 26 per cent in Quebec and the rest found in Ontario, Atlantic Canada, and central Canada. Within B.C., responses were split between the B.C. Coast and Interior. Many thanks to our sponsors for making this research possible – Hultdins, Tigercat and John Deere.