Espanola’s Pulp And Paper Mill Being Shut Down Indefinitely

Photo: The Espanola mill will be closed by the end of November. Domtar says it will be on idle status with a minimum of staff on hand to maintain vital services. Photo by Rosalind Russell

By Rosalind Russell – Domtar Corporation announced last Wednesday morning (September 6, 2023) that it will indefinitely idle the pulp and paper operations at its Espanola facility for an expected period greater than one year.
Officials say the announcement will affect approximately 450 employees.
Officials say the mill will be idled after “years of ongoing losses and high costs associated with maintaining and operating the facility”, adding the pulp mill will shut down in early October and the paper machines will shut down in early November.
Paper and Packaging president Steve Henry says the Espanola mill has been challenged for some time now and they have worked diligently to find a viable path forward for the operation, including offering it up for sale.
The company says it will take appropriate measures to assist employees affected by the decision in accordance with the collective agreement, Domtar policy and legislation… adding the mill will be idled in a safe and environmentally sound manner that will facilitate a possible sale or future restart.

Mayor reacts to news
Espanola Mayor Doug Gervais realizes his council and citizens have a tough road ahead with the announcement of the closure of the pulp and paper mill in Espanola.
In a message to citizens, he says it is with heavy hearts that the Town of Espanola has learnt of the Domtar Corporation’s announcement to indefinitely idle the pulp and paper operations at its Espanola facility.
Gervais emphasizes the workers and families of the pulp and paper industry have been the life blood of Espanola since the turn of the 20th century and the town will be advocating to all levels of government in support of the community.
Gervais adds council and town staff will do everything it can to help the workers and families impacted and the community at large.

Mantha reacts to closure announcement
Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Mantha says it is devastating to hear that Domtar will be idling operations by November.
Mantha says already been in contact with Ontario’s Minister of Labour, and Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry and has reached out to the Minister of Colleges and Universities to highlight the impacts that this will have on the community and region.
He adds in the coming weeks he hope to work with them, their federal counterparts, and impacted stakeholders to mitigate any concerns in the community.
Mantha says he is calling on both the provincial and federal governments to be at the table to address the factors that have led to the facility being idled adding protecting and promoting good paying, stable jobs in the North should be a priority for all elected officials.

Carol Hughes: Domtar Shutdown a Blow to Espanola and Area Workers
Carol Hughes, MP for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, was shocked and saddened to learn that the Domtar pulp and paper mill will be idling indefinitely and for a minimum of one year. MP Hughes reached out to Domtar’s Regional Public Affairs Manager to see if any government assistance could help in averting the closure.
“This is a somber day for workers, their families, the Town of Espanola and surrounding communities,” said Hughes.
“There’s always hope for communities dealing with company closures,” said Hughes. “White River experienced this a few years ago when the lumber mill ceased operations. They were able to eventually bounce back, but it was an exceptionally difficult process to rebuild their work force.”
“I am disheartened by what these workers and their families will be going through, and I encourage them to reach out to my office should they require assistance with benefits they may need to access,” said Hughes.

How the closure will roll out
Bonny Skene, Domtar’s communication director says human resources staff is on site at the Domtar Mill in Espanola providing information and support to the workers.
Skene says she does not have a lot of specifics currently, but talks are also ongoing with the labour unions at the mill.
Severance packages are to be presented to personnel.
She adds a skeleton crew will be maintained to oversee the hydro dam operation and the boiler rooms for lagoons to maintain environmental integrity of the mill when it closes.
The final shut down is expected on November 30th.


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