Workers laid off after Northern Pulp’s shutdown in January should expect to receive their final instalment of severance pay in the coming weeks.
Northern Pulp’s parent company, Paper Excellence, received approval from the British Columbia Supreme Court on Friday to loan money to the Nova Scotia pulp mill so that remaining severance, salary continuation and retiree benefits can be paid to affected workers.
“Paper Excellence’s priority continues to be supporting Northern Pulp’s dedicated workforce and today’s decision by the Court ensures former employees and retirees receive the severance, salary continuation and benefits they earned,” Graham Kissack, the vice-president of Paper Excellence, said in a news release.
“Our team is now working with the court appointed monitor to issue payments as quickly as possible.”
The mill in Pictou County shut down in late January after the government ruled it could no longer dump its waste water into Boat Harbour.
In August, a B.C. judge approved an interim financing agreement that will see the mill receive $15 million from third-party lenders to complete environmental cleanup work required by the Nova Scotia government, and a restructuring effort in hopes of eventually reopening the operation. The Court did not allow that funding to be used for workforce payments, the release said.
Northern Pulp workers already received one instalment of severance earlier this year, and anticipated a second instalment on Aug. 1. That instalment wasn’t paid because Northern Pulp did not have the funding.
Now, workers should expect the second instalment in the coming weeks.
“The good thing about the funding is that obviously one of the things we wanted to do is ensure that people stay in the community and they’re able to go back to work when the mill restarts, which is our hope and Paper Excellence’s intention to do that,” said Scott Doherty, the executive assistant to the national president of Unifor, the union that represents Northern Pulp workers.
Doherty said just under 400 workers will benefit from the money
“Having people be able to get their severance pay, it’s much more likely that people will be able to survive until the mill starts up again,” he said.
“[They can] maybe find another job in their community because they know there’s an opportunity to go back to, as opposed to having to leave the community. Our hope is that the mill would start up as quickly as possible and a number of our members will go back to work.”