NS: Support package for troubled paper mill on the way

Michael Tutton
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Canadian Press

Premier Darrell Dexter said he will give details about the deal during an announcement in Liverpool where the financially troubled mill owned by Resolute Forest Products operates.

Premier Darrell Dexter — METRO FILE

[HALIFAX, NS] - The government of Nova Scotia has worked out a multimillion-dollar support package to help keep the Bowater Mersey paper mill running, Premier Darrell Dexter said Thursday.

Dexter said he will give details about the deal during an announcement in Liverpool where the financially troubled mill owned by Resolute Forest Products operates.

But Dexter confirmed in an interview the financial support will be in the millions of dollars.

"We are in a position where we're comfortable with announcing what the conclusions of our negotiations are," he said. "Resolute has satisfied itself with respect to the operations of the mill."

Officials for Resolute did not return messages seeking comment.

Resolute told Dexter last month that they would close the plant without help from the government and reductions in its costs.

The mill employs about 300 people and the government estimates that the livelihoods of up to 2,000 others in the area would be affected if it closes.

The union at the financially troubled mill recently voted to cut 110 full- and part-time jobs in an effort to reduce labour costs and help save the operation.

Union local president Courtney Wentzell says he'll need to know the details of the deal with the province before he can endorse it.

"If it's an agreement with Resolute too, and if it's a joint announcement then I can't see it being anything but good news," he said. "But without knowing anything I can't really comment."

On Tuesday, the province's Utility and Review Board ruled that the mill would receive a three-year discount on its electricity costs.

The local municipality has also approved a 15 per cent property tax reduction for the mill worth about $135,000 per year.

Dexter, who grew up near Liverpool, said he's hopeful that the financial package will keep the mill open.

"I hope it's the last step," he said. "There was a tipping point at some point in the negotiations where ... Resolute began to see this as something that would be very beneficial for the company."

Organizations: Resolute Forest Products, Utility and Review Board

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Liverpool

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