Canada: Lumber production falls sharply as production curtailments rise

Canada: Lumber production falls sharply as production curtailments rise

The recent lumber curtailments of major Canadian lumber producers, announced back in the fall and winter of 2018, have seriously impacted the overall Canadian lumber production. Thus, production of lumber in Canada has dipped by -18.4% in December 2018, as compared to November, down to 4 319.2 thousand cubic metres. Production was also lower by 10.8% as compared to December 2017.

Exports of lumber have also seriously shifted downwards. Canadian sawmills shipped 4 294.1 thousand cubic metres of lumber in December, down 18.2% from November and 10.0% lower than in December 2017.

All major forestry companies in B.C. have announced curtailments at their B.C. sawmill for the fourth quarter. In the case of West Fraser Timber Co., the curtailments are permanent.

On November 13, West Fraser announced it is permanently shutting down a third shift at two of its mills – one in Quesnel and the other in Fraser Lake. The company said the decision affects 60 workers in Fraser Lake and 75 in Quesnel.

Effective January, West Fraser has taken about 300 million board feet out of production permanently by shutting down third shifts at two sawmills. That’s about 13% of West Fraser’s production in B.C.

Meanwhile, Conifex Timber Inc., Tolko Industries, Canfor Corp. and Interfor Corp. have also announced temporary curtailments or reduced production at their sawmills.

Tolko announced that it was laying off 100 workers at its Quesnel sawmill, and on November 9 Conifex announced that it is temporarily curtailing its production at its Fort St. James sawmill for two weeks.

Interfor announced it would reduce production at all three of its B.C. interior mills, and on November 1, Canfor announced it was curtailing production at all of its B.C. sawmills. Moreover, in February 2019, Canfor has again curtailed production at three of its British Columbia mills.

Standard Classification of Goods (SCG) August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018
Cubic metres
Total softwood and hardwood, production 
5,523.4 5,385.4 5,789.6 5,294.8 4,319.2
Total hardwood, production 93.4 110.6 116.8 110.8 92.6
Total softwood, production 
5,429.9 5,274.8 5,672.8 5,184.0 4,226.6
Spruce, pine and fir, production 4,745.2 4,692.9 5,066.2 4,547.7 3,814.5
Total softwood excluding spruce, pine and fir, production 
684.8 581.9 606.6 636.2 412.1
Lumber, total shipments 5,893.0 5,360.4 5,642.2 5,249.7 4,294.1
Total softwood and hardwood, stocks 
7,897.1 7,934.7 8,100.5 7,857.8 7,857.6
Total hardwood, stocks F F F F F
Total softwood, stocks 
7,707.7 7,746.3 7,909.4 7,684.4 7,684.1
Spruce, pine and fir, stocks 6,854.0 6,897.7 7,056.4 6,772.1 6,894.7
Total softwood excluding spruce, pine and fir, stocks 
853.7 848.7 852.9 912.4 789.3



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