By Jamie McKenzie

Stephane Lefebvre, President Unifor Local 233 and Daniel Cloutier, Unifor Quebec Director

Recently, Rayonier Advance Materials (RYAM) announced that as of July 2024 it will indefinitely suspend operations of its High Purity Cellulose plant in Temicaming, QC. This announcement also results in 275 layoffs.

A decision that will have a huge effect on the community.

Hundreds from the community came out to show their support during a Unifor press conference. Daniel Cloutier, Unifor Quebec Director and Stephane Lefebvre, President Unifor Local 233 were both there to discuss the current situation and the hopes that a solution can be found to save the mill from closing.

“This has an impact on everything from the school, to the hospital, to the businesses in town and our families and our community,” said Lefebvre after the press conference.

203 of the expected layoffs are part of the union.

As well as the many community members who came to show their support, local leaders were also in attendance to show their support. Mayor of Temicaming, Pierre Gingras, Mayor of Kipawa, Norm Young, Chief of Wolf Lake First Nation, Lisa Robinson, and Kebaowek First Nation Councillor, Justin Roy, all shared their support and hopes to find a solution that will save the mill from closing.

Lefebvre says that moving forward RYAM has no interest in running the specialty cellulose mill, nor have they given any possible solutions to keep the mill from closing.

“They don’t care, they honestly don’t care,” said Lefebvre, “they’ve come in and handed out 203 letters of end of employment to my members without any answers to our questions.”

“In 2017 when they (RYAM) came in and took over Tembec we felt that maybe we can make the best of the situation, they were investing money, then all of a sudden we saw things change and I hope this is not the beginning of the end.”

Lefebvre says the goal of today’s press conference was to slow down RYAM’s decision to shut down the cellulose plant. He says they have another meeting with the company on May 21st, and while he’s not sure what the meeting will be yet, he hopes that they will get some answers to their questions.