The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) is calling on the federal government to renew and replenish the highly successful Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) program to help the sector further develop innovative breakthrough technologies.
FPAC is asking for IFIT to receive an additional $500 million over the next six years, starting with a modest $25 million next year in recognition of the government’s tight fiscal situation, and then scaling up to $150 million for the final two years of the program. The Executive Vice-President of FPAC, Catherine Cobden, made the request today during pre-budget consultations before the House of Commons Finance committee.
“Our industry is grateful for the significant support provided by the federal government in recent years to help our transformation,” says Cobden. “The sector has to do the heavy-lifting but we still need to partner with government to de-risk innovation and help bring new technologies to the final stage of commercial readiness. IFIT is a proven strategic model for that partnership.”
IFIT was first created in 2010 to encourage innovation in the forest sector by supporting first-of-kind commercial-scale demonstration and market applications. The $100 million program received 107 project applications worth $2 billion. So far IFIT is supporting 15 technologies including: Alberta Pacific Forest Industries producing methanol from a pulp mill waste stream; Millar Western building a unique bio-energy effluent project and Tolko becoming the first facility in North America to produce both specialty-and commodity-oriented strand board products from a single production line. In addition, IFIT is leveraging new investment in Canadian industry in smaller communities when forest companies are the major employer.
“Under our Vision2020, the forest industry is aiming to produce another $20 billion in economic activity from new products and markets.” says Cobden. “A focused program such as IFIT is critical to help us develop innovative non-traditional products, create new jobs especially in rural Canada and enhance the sector’s economic viability.”
FPAC is also asking the government to extend its support for forest industry research and development through the eight university networks of the Forest Innovation by Research and Education (FIBRE) organization and to expand the eligibility criteria of Sustainable development Technology Canada’s (SDTC) NextGen Biofuels Fund to cover other sectors of the bio-economy.
For the FPAC budget document please click here.