Workers recruited from Ukraine to help forest industry fight labour shortage

posted on April 16, 2019

By CBC News |

Forest industry expects immigrants to make up a large part of the workforce in the years to come

Svitlana Protsenko’s new job represents a new start for her family and an important new hope for the industry that sustains the New Brunswick town the Protsenkos now call home.

Protsenko, her husband and their three children came to Saint-Quentin from Kharkiv, Ukraine, 32 kilometres from the border with Russia.

They are just one of the families who’ve make the trip from Ukraine this year to work in the forestry sector, which is suddenly facing a labour crisis.

Monday was Protsenko’s first day of work. After a few days of orientation and safety training, she and her husband will begin work for Groupe Savoie, a manufacturer of hardwood products.

“We came here to work and to live,” said Protsenko. “And the job is always the most important thing when it comes to where we are living.”

Nicole Somers, mayor of Saint-Quentin, said 48 immigrants have settled in Saint Quentin this year, to the delight and relief of the town of about 2,200 in northwestern New Brunswick.

“Saint-Quentin is a small place in the middle of nowhere,” Somers said. “We’re far from all big centres. But just the same they chose to be here.”

Immigration necessary

In a province where forestry is a staple of the economy, immigration is the inevitable answer to a labour shortage, according to industry representatives.

“Immigration will certainly be one of the paths we take to try and solve this problem,” said Mike Legere, executive director of Forest NB.

Forest NB represents 15 forestry companies across the province, although not the forestry giant J.D. Irving Ltd.

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