EDMUNDSTON (GNB) – The provincial government has completed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Twin Rivers Paper Co. which will see the company complete its agreement to invest in the pension plan for hundreds of its workers and retirees.

In addition, as a result of 200,000 additional cubic metres of wood that the company will receive under the new Strategy of Crown Lands Forest Management, the company has committed to invest up to $70 million in upgrades to its operations.

“This is a great example of how our new forestry strategy will help important companies like Twin Rivers become more efficient and competitive and at the same time, will produce a more secure future for the hundreds of men and women who work here, or have worked here and are now retired,” said Natural Resources Minister Paul Robichaud.

As a result of the additional wood allocated, the company has added a third shift at its Plaster Rock mill, creating more than 40 new jobs, and has invested $2.5 million in a new kiln for lumber drying.

Investments the company will make at its Edmundston mill include $3 million for pulp mill process upgrades and $5 million on emission control improvements.

Through the agreement the company has forecasted it will make annual capital investments in its operations annually of $6 million to $8 million.

In addition, the company has committed to make payments of between $12.5 million and $52.9 million over the next four to 15 years into a shared-risk pension plan. This will allow hourly workers to collect upon retirement 64.6 per cent of their salary instead of the current 56 per cent; while salaried workers will see the percentage of their salary collected at retirement increase from 65 per cent to 69 per cent.

The provincial government has reconvened the legislative assembly for Tuesday, July 29, in order to make changes to the Pension Benefits Act to allow for the restoration of pension benefits.

“We have worked hard to put in place our restructuring plan, and that has entailed a lot of hard work and sacrifice by our employees and partners,” said Tim Lowe, CEO of Twin Rivers Paper Co. "There are more than 1,000 people working across our operations as a result of Twin Rivers' presence in New Brunswick, and many others whose jobs exist as a result of our operations and annual expenditures. The Forestry Strategy is exactly the kind of investment government needs to make a competitive, sustainable future for our industry."

Upon completion of the investments and full ramp-up of operations at Plaster Rock, Twin Rivers estimates that it will have additional capacity to add new market opportunities for an additional 70,000 cubic metres of wood from private woodlots annually.

“This is a great day for hundreds of workers in the northwest region of New Brunswick,” Robichaud said. “The commitment shown by Twin Rivers to improve its operations, as well as to help restore the pensions of its workers and retirees, is a great testament to their commitment to this region and our province. We are confident that these positive changes will assure it will be contributing to our economy for many years to come.”