OTTAWA, Nov. 7, 2012 /CNW/ - The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) is asking the federal government to use Budget 2013 to continue to build on the existing momentum of innovation and transformation in the job-rich forest sector. This should include replenishment of the successful Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) program.
The original $100 million IFIT program generated 107 applications and was over-subscribed by a factor of five, demonstrating the significant appetite by the Canadian forestry sector to develop and commercialize new innovative technologies in the areas of bio-energy, bio-chemicals and new solid wood projects. About a third of these project applications were for world-first innovations. By investing $300 million over the next three years in IFIT, the government will continue to support the ambitious Vision2020 agenda of the Canadian forest sector.
"We know the government is facing an era of fiscal restraint," says the President and CEO of FPAC, David Lindsay. "However by continuing to demonstrate support for our transformation agenda the government will maximize the return on its significant investment in industry transformation to date, help the Canadian sector lead the world in innovative products and unleash the potential of Canada's vast forest resource."
FPAC is also asking the government to improve innovation, productivity and competiveness by:
- Use the purchasing power of Public Works and Government Services Canada to kick start demand for existing and emerging forest products - from building materials to biofuels to pharmaceuticals- all products that have graduated from the innovation development process.
- Take action to increase the number of skilled tradespeople, particularly through immigration reform and efforts to engage Aboriginals and women in non-traditional roles. This will help the forest products sector reach its goal of recruiting 60,000 new employees by 2020.
- Permanently extend the Accelerated Capital Coast Allowance provisions for manufacturing equipment to help attract capital and encourage first-of-kind commercial applications of technology.
- Broaden access to the Scientific Research and Experimental Development tax credit program
- Continue to adequately fund Canada's research agencies such as FPInnovations.
- Take action to fix a monopolistic rail system that is resulting in high rates and poor service and impacting our ability to be competitive and service emerging markets.
"We truly appreciate how the government has been there to help Canadian forest companies develop a dynamic future-oriented industry that is creating jobs and supporting rural communities," says Lindsay. "We need continuing smart and strategic support so the sector can reach the ambitious goals of our Vision2020 and become a world leader in supplying new innovative products to global markets."
FPAC provides a voice for Canada's wood, pulp, and paper producers nationally and internationally in government, trade, and environmental affairs. The $57-billion-a-year forest products industry represents 2% of Canada's GDP and is one of Canada's largest employers operating in hundreds of communities and providing 230,000 direct jobs across the country.
For more information, go to: http://www.fpac.ca/Budget2013/
SOURCE FOREST PRODUCTS ASSOCIATION OF CANADA