Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 52, I am rising to seek leave for the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing an important matter requiring urgent consideration.
As members know, British Columbia is facing a crisis in the softwood lumber industry. Communities across my province are reeling from the mill closures and layoffs that have occurred over the past several months. At least 20 mills have been shut down or have curtailed production. As a result, thousands of people across 27 communities in B.C. are out of work, and we understand that further layoffs are expected before the Christmas holidays.
As reported by the Financial Post, the Council of Forest Industries said that the industry has been a “cornerstone of the B.C. economy for more than 100 years and the well-being of 140 communities is closely linked to the health of the sector. It said forestry supports about 140,000 jobs and generates about $4 billion in revenues annually for the province.”
Despite the crisis, Canada still has no softwood lumber agreement with the United States, and Canadian companies are facing devastating tariffs. Further, softwood lumber is absent from a revised version of the USMCA signed on Tuesday and continues to be left in limbo.
Canada's Deputy Prime Minister told the House of Commons on December 6, 2019, that the federal government is taking the issue of increased tariffs to the World Trade Organization. However, yesterday we learned that the future of the WTO's appellate body is in serious jeopardy because the United States continues to block new appointees and that panel no longer has quorum.
I am sure members will agree that the softwood lumber crisis is a prominent issue facing the House this winter. It is the number one issue facing the impacted workers, their families and their communities, yet there has been no opportunity to debate actions undertaken by the Government of Canada. There is no clear plan of action presented to the House to support workers, communities and the industry.
Mr. Speaker, I would appreciate your attention to this matter, especially as we head into the Christmas break. I am hoping that you will consider this request.