Ontario Building a Stronger Forestry Sector

Ontario Building a Stronger Forestry Sector

Province invests $15 million in new wood manufacturing plant in Northern Ontario

April 11, 2022

Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry

Wawa – The Ontario government is providing a grant of up to $15 million over four years to Wawa OSB Inc. through the Forest Sector Investment and Innovation Program to support a new state-of-the-art plant that will produce oriented strand board (OSB), an important material for building new homes. This investment will build a stronger forestry sector, create jobs and bring economic growth to northern and Indigenous communities.

“Funding this new plant is a win for Ontario, Wawa OSB Inc., and the entire community of Wawa,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry. “An investment of this size is one more way our government is supporting forestry and ensuring we secure the materials we need for our plan to Build Ontario. This exciting opportunity is another example of a new company choosing to invest in Ontario because of an improved business environment, and it will bring good jobs back to this region and benefit Indigenous communities.”

Ontario has a competitive advantage over other jurisdictions in the production of OSB because of its abundance of low-grade poplar and birch. Wawa OSB Inc. is investing $181 million to build the province’s third OSB manufacturing facility which will expand Ontario’s OSB production capacity to satisfy growing demand for building materials in Canada and the U.S.

“Through Ontario’s Forest Sector Investment and Innovation Program we are creating jobs and supporting innovation and economic growth in the North,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “Our government is proud to support this investment by Wawa OSB to build a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and we will continue to support small and medium-sized businesses to bring jobs, opportunities and prosperity to people and communities in Northern Ontario.”

The Forest Sector Investment and Innovation Program is a business support program designed to improve productivity and innovation, enhance competitiveness, support new market access and strengthen regional economies.

“Our government has reduced electricity rates for large industrial customers by 15 per cent through our Comprehensive Electricity Plan so job creators like Wawa OSB have the certainty and stability they need,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Energy. “We know that competitive rates are important for the success of Ontario’s forestry industry, which is essential to Northern communities. We are pleased to support expansions like today’s that will support good-paying jobs and build more prosperous communities.”

“This assistance is a key first step in financing our project to reopen the WAWA OSB mill,” said Yolaine Rousseau, Executive vice-president, WAWA OSB Inc. “The Cossette family is very excited about creating jobs in Northern Ontario and increasing our production capacity to better serve North American customers. I would like to reiterate our commitment to working with the various stakeholders, including the First Nations in the territory. Our team is proud and grateful to the Government of Ontario for recognizing the importance of this project to the province, and we will continue our discussions with the Government of Canada to obtain their support as well.”

Projects such as this one, which utilize large quantities of low-grade wood while creating jobs and encouraging economic growth, are critical to achieving Ontario’s goals established in Sustainable Growth: Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy as well as the recently announced Forest Biomass Action Plan.

The funding is conditional on the completion of key project milestones and finalizing a funding contract between the company and the province. There are still several other milestones for Wawa OSB Inc. to achieve before they can be fully functional, including working with local Indigenous and municipal communities, as well as local Sustainable Forest Licence holders.

Quick Facts

  • Wawa is a rural Northern Ontario community, which has a population of approximately 2700. Once the plant is operational, over 300 new direct and indirect jobs will be created.
  • The North American OSB market is forecasted to be strong over the next three to five years, primarily driven by the growth in new U.S. housing. The key markets for this new plant’s production will be 70% to the U.S. and 30% within Canada.
  • Once completed, this project will generate almost $260 million in GDP and an annual stumpage revenue of over $4.7 million.
  • The forest sector generated $18 billion in revenue from the sale of manufactured goods and services in 2020 and supported more than 148,000 direct and indirect jobs in 2021.

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