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Minister Rickford Announces Call for Proposals for the Next Phase of Investments in Forest Products Innovation

CALGARY, ALBERTA -- (Marketwired) -- 06/26/14 -- Natural Resources Canada

The Honourable Greg Rickford, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, today announced that a Call for Proposals is now open for companies to submit applications to benefit from the renewed Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) program. The Harper Government announced funding of $90.4 million with funding to be allocated to projects that support jobs and implement highly innovative commercial-scale technologies. The Minister made the announcement in advance of meetings with his provincial and territorial forest minister counterparts.

Minister Rickford also announced an investment of $10 million through the IFIT program to support an innovative project with West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.'s Hinton, Alberta, pulp mill. West Fraser will build Canada's first commercial-scale plant to recover lignin from its pulp production stream based on patented technology developed by FPInnovations and NORAM Engineering. Lignin, a natural adhesive derived from wood, is a bio-based renewable alternative to some of the glue components used in plywood and wood panel manufacturing. Lignin has the potential for a wide variety of other innovative applications. As a result of this investment, the mill will be able to diversify its product line and become more resilient to changes in the marketplace while reinforcing jobs in the community.

The IFIT program was renewed under Economic Action Plan 2014 as a key component in the Government of Canada's continuing support for innovation in Canada's forest industry. The program has been successful in promoting economic growth, particularly in rural communities, by making targeted investments in capital projects that commercialize world-first or Canadian-first technologies in the forest products sector. The IFIT program helps Canadian forest companies demonstrate the commercial viability of innovative technologies that improve efficiency, reduce environmental impacts and create high-value products from Canada's world-class forest resources.

Quick Facts

--  Since 2010, 11 projects have been announced under the IFIT program.
--  IFIT projects have resulted in over 2,500 jobs being secured or created,
    the creation of 7.2 megawatts of renewable electrical capacity and a
    reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 60 kilotonnes per year.
--  Since 2007, the Government of Canada has invested $1.8 billion in
    support of Canada's forest sector, including $1 billion for the Pulp and
    Paper Green Transformation program, which was the largest single federal
    investment ever in Canada's forest industry history. Between 2009 and
    2012, this initiative helped many Canadian pulp and paper mills make
    capital investments in environmental or energy improvements at their
    plants.
--  These investments have helped expand and diversify markets for Canadian
    forest products, develop and commercialize new technologies and forest
    products, and improve the sector's environmental performance.
--  Canada's forest sector contributed $19.8 billion to our gross domestic
    product in 2013, directly employing over 200,000 workers in all regions
    of the country, including in approximately 200 communities where more
    than half the income directly depends on forest sector jobs.

Quotes

"Our government is helping Canada's forest industry grow and diversify. These investments support our goals of supporting jobs and promoting economic growth by helping Canada's forest industry diversify markets and bring innovative, high-value products to the marketplace."

The Honourable Greg Rickford, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

"I applaud today's funding announcement. This program has helped fund important innovations in the forest sector, which has helped the forest sector develop new products and market opportunities, which, in turn, ensures stable jobs in forestry-dependent areas."

The Honourable Steve Thomson B.C. Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations

"Alberta is pleased to see the IFIT program directing resources to a project that will advance Alberta's forest sector and benefit a community that is one of our leading forest centres. The innovation applied here is transformative technology. I congratulate West Fraser for its vision in putting forward this project and Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions for its contributions to making this project a reality."

The Honourable Robin Campbell, Alberta Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development

"A Saskatchewan facility, Tolko's Meadow Lake OSB mill, has already benefited from IFIT-supported innovation in strand screening, allowing the company to produce a wider range of products on a single production line. I encourage other companies to seize this opportunity to explore new technologies that will help keep Canada's forest industry a world leader."

The Honourable Scott Moe, Saskatchewan Minister of Environment

"This program is directly in line with Quebec's vision of the future of the forest industry. We're talking innovation, product diversification and adaptation to new markets. These three words express very clearly the will of the Government of Quebec to join the forest industry in its commitment to develop its supply toward the new technologies. Thus, we will be able to rely on a forest industry that is modern and forward-looking. Forests will be at the heart of the economic development strategy of the Government of Quebec, and we are happy to see the federal government join us as a partner in the pursuit of this objective."

The Honourable Laurent Lessard, Quebec Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks

"As New Brunswick is one of the most forestry-intense provinces in Canada, I applaud the federal government for this significant investment in the national forestry sector. Just as we have been working hard to create an atmosphere where jobs can be created in the forestry sector in our province, the IFIT program will do the same, throughout our nation."

The Honourable Paul Robichaud, N.B. Minister of Natural Resources

"Programs such as IFIT are key to transforming research and development into innovative products that result in new markets and secure jobs for the forest sector. This project, a result of a significant collaborative effort between West Fraser, FPInnovations and NORAM Engineering, will once again position Canada as a world leader in developing new bioproducts using one of our most abundant natural resources."

Pierre Lapointe, President and CEO, FPInnovations

"The federal IFIT program is important for the forest products industry Vision2020 transformation agenda. We have committed to create new products, seek new markets and further improve our environmental credentials. IFIT investments such as the one in Hinton, Alberta, will help the Canadian forest sector compete globally and hire new people locally, ensuring the economic vitality of rural and northern communities and the Canadian economy as a whole."

David Lindsay, President and CEO of Forest Products Association of Canada

"Investment in Canadian innovation works. Lignin is an exciting opportunity for our company to open new bioproducts markets, offer innovative, challenging careers in the forest sector and reinforce the competitiveness of our operations by developing high-value, bio-based products from our existing production."

Ted Seraphim, President and CEO, West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.

Related Products

Backgrounder - Investments in Forest Industry Transformation Program

Associated Links

Investments in Forest Industry Transformation Program

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NRCan's news releases and backgrounders are available at www.nrcan.gc.ca/media

Contacts:
Media may contact:
Alexandra Lemieux, Press Secretary
Office of Canada's Minister of Natural Resources and
Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative
for Northern Ontario
613-996-2007

Media Relations
Natural Resources Canada
Ottawa
613-992-4447

The general public may contact:
Mon.-Fri., 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. EDT
Telephone: 613-995-0947
TTY: 613-996-4397
(teletype for the hearing-impaired)
[email protected]

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