Houston Facility


July 15, 2024

Dear Employee,

The Canfor and the USW Transition Committee has been meeting since May 30, 2024. We appreciate your patience as we work towards concluding employee support packages.

Severance amounts are in the process of being calculated and individualized letters are being created. Letters will placed in the mail Monday, July 22, 2024. If you have any questions and want to schedule a meeting, Brad Mores and Sonia LeBlanc are part of the Transition Committee and will be your contacts.

To reach Brad Mores, please call 250-563-7771 or email at to arrange an appointment. To reach Sonia LeBlanc, please call 250-845-5261 or email at to arrange for an appointment. The Transition Office is located at the Canfor Houston administration building.

May 21, 2024

Dear Employee,

Further to the May 9th announcement regarding the suspension of Canfor’s planned re-investment in the Houston Facility, we wanted to provide a few updates and reiterate our deep disappointment in having to make this decision.

You can be assured that we will explore all potential options and work closely with multiple stakeholders, including the United Steelworkers (USW) leadership and Government, to support and mitigate the impact on you. We are also committed to engaging openly and communicating frequently as we work through this transition.

Please read Don Kayne’s All Employee message, shared on May 9, 2024, below.

Next steps.

We have been in talks with the United Steelworkers (USW) and are scheduled to meet on May 31 to talk about the announcement and how it will relate to the Collective Agreement. Following that meeting, a further update will be shared.

If you have questions, please contact the USW Local or the Houston site. In the meantime:

  • Benefits and all other aspects of the current transition agreements remain in place.
  • Learn more about the Bridging to Retirement Program being run by the BC Government
  • Employees can access support through our Employee and Family Assistance Program provider, ComPsych. Live assistance is available 24/7.
  • Employment Insurance (EI) information is available here
  • Information on the IWA Forest Industry Pension Plan is available here

May 9, 2024

Today we announced some very difficult news about our BC operations, including the permanent closure of our Polar sawmill in Bear Lake and the suspension of our planned reinvestment in a new state-of-the-art sawmill in Houston. This follows the announcement from our subsidiary company, Canfor Pulp, that one line of production will be indefinitely curtailed at the Northwood pulp mill.

These decisions are heartbreaking for our company that has been proudly headquartered in BC for more than 85 years. More importantly, these decisions have a profound impact on our people – people who make products the world wants, while contributing hundreds of millions of dollars of government revenues to support services we all depend on.

While these announcements may seem like just more in a series from the struggling BC forest sector, for the sake of the employees who are impacted by these changes, I believe we all need to understand the conditions that have brought us to this place.

The ability to dependably and consistently access enough economic timber to run our manufacturing facilities is critical for our business. It is also what provides certainty for employees, suppliers and communities who depend on the forest sector to feed their families and fuel our economy.

Unfortunately, in BC, while there is an adequate supply of timber, as confirmed by the Allowable Annual Cut set by BC’s Chief Forester, the actual harvest level has declined dramatically in recent years - in 2023 falling to levels not seen since the 1960s.

While this decline is partly the result of natural disturbances – beetle infestations and wildfire particularly - it is also the result of the cumulative impact of policy changes and increased regulatory complexity that has been introduced over the last few years. These policy choices have driven up fibre costs and created significant uncertainty in our operating environment. In combination, they have taken a heavy toll on our industry and forced the closure or curtailment of many manufacturing operations, including our Polar sawmill.

Once the most competitive forest products manufacturing region in Canada, today, we are the highest cost operating jurisdiction in the country and amongst the highest cost in the world. And, with the policy and regulatory landscape continuing to shift, businesses like ours don’t know what operating conditions we will face as we try to plan our operations and investments.

This uncertainty makes it extremely difficult to predict what operating conditions we will face in BC going forward. As such, we have made the difficult decision to suspend our plan to build a new state-of-the-art sawmill in Houston, as we are not sure that an investment of this magnitude can be successful at this time.

Over the past 85 years, Canfor has grown from a small family-run operation into a globally significant supplier of low-carbon products with operations in three countries - but BC is our home. It’s the place where we want to be able to succeed, to provide stable work for our employees, and engage with our First Nations partners, contractors, customers, suppliers, and communities that rely on a healthy forest industry.

We understand that this announcement creates significant hardship for our impacted employees. In the weeks ahead, we will work with our union partners to develop a transition plan that considers severance provisions and other means to support our impacted employees. We will also seek opportunities to divest our associated tenure to support other local manufacturing operations who are facing the same challenges accessing fibre, in the hope of saving another operation from being closed or curtailed. Finally, we will continue to advocate relentlessly for a plan to address the challenges that we, and the entire forest sector, are facing in BC.

This is a difficult day for us all. As you process this news, I ask you to please continue to stay focused on the task at hand and keep safety top of mind. And, as always, if you have questions or need help, do not hesitate to reach out to your manager or our Employee and Family Assistance representatives from ComPsych who are available 24/7 online or by phone to provide confidential support.

Don Kayne
President and Chief Executive Officer