Sawmill industry in Canada: 15 years in review

Statistics Canada
February 20, 2023
Category: Finance & Economics
Region: Canada

The purpose of this research paper is to highlight the impact of the many challenges faced over time by the sawmill industry on its development and its role as an economic lever for many Canadian communities….

  • Impact of the financial crisis – Canada exported 44% of the total quantity of softwood lumber it produced to the U.S. in 2009, a 11 percentage-point reduction from 2007.
  • Impact of the expiration of the Softwood Lumber Agreement – While the U.S. has long been the largest importer of Canadian softwood lumber, their share fell 12 percentage points (to 70%) over the span of the most recent SLA (2006 to 2015). 
  • The impact of the wildfires – According to BC Ministry of Forests, about 2.5 million hectares were destroyed in British Columbia in 2017/2018.
  • A challenging context for profitability – The sawmill industry generally does not generate large profit margins.
  • The impact of the pandemic – The impact of the pandemic has been relentless on the sawmill industry, with on-and-off lockdowns since March 2020. 

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