POLITICS

New Brunswick government releases agreements with forestry companies

12/10/2014 02:44 EST | Updated 02/09/2015 05:59 EST
FREDERICTON - New Brunswick's natural resources minister has released the province's agreements with forestry companies but says it's too early to say what, if any, changes the government will make to them.

The Liberals promised to release the agreements, which give the companies access to more Crown land and are the result of a 10-year forestry plan announced in March by the previous Progressive Conservative government.

The plan will allow forestry companies to harvest an additional 660,000 cubic metres of softwood a year — a hike of 20 per cent.

The Liberals said they were concerned small forestry companies may not have received a fair share of wood, but Natural Resources Minister Denis Landry said it may not be easy to make changes.

"I'm sure we don't want to go fight in court with those big corporations," Landry said.

He said he'll need another month or two to review the agreements.

Tory Opposition Leader Bruce Fitch said he is concerned that if any changes are made, they could diminish the number of jobs that are expected to be created as a result of the agreements.

"I will be interested to see if they tweak it in some way just to take ownership of it ... as opposed to doing some substantial changes," Fitch said.

Green party Leader David Coon said the documents released Wednesday are only some of the agreements with the forestry companies. He says there are also operating and industrial plans that he would like to see made public.

"The industrial plans contain the information about how many jobs over the next 10 years will be in each of the mills and it should tell us if there are mills that are going to shut down and mills they are going to expand the number of employees in," Coon said.