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This article was published 24/8/2016 (1324 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Premier Brian Pallister says there is nothing his government can do to save more than 300 jobs that will be lost when the heart of The Pas economy stops beating in December.
On Wednesday, Pallister made it clear that a bailout is not on the table for Tolko Industries in the northern town of about 6,500. The company announced Monday that it will shut its heavy paper mill on Dec. 2.
"Companies that come looking for direct bailouts generally bail out as soon as the bailout is done, so, I don't think that is the answer," he said. "In the short term, I am not able to give the satisfaction that people who just lost their job would like me to give."
The mill, in operation since the late-1960s, once employed more than 1,000 people. Tolko has owned the facility, which produces heavy kraft paper used in applications such as cement bags, for 19 years. About 332 people currently work at the mill.
Pallister said he supports a more egalitarian approach to incentives, allowing all Manitoba businesses to take advantage of things such as competitive tax rates, fairer regulations, better infrastructure and educational opportunities.
"Those are opportunities we have to make available to all our small- and medium-sized enterprises," he said.
Pallister wouldn't get into specific details about whether the province was asked for funds to help Tolko stay afloat.
"There have been supports offered to Tolko recently and in past years, and they clearly were not deemed — in and of themselves — enough to convince the company that they should continue to lose money," he said. "We made every effort to have a dialogue with Tolko to do what we could to assist them and their decisions."
He said his government is working on a plan to boost the long-term economy of the North.
"We have a plan which we will be unveiling — it is just getting refined right now — in terms of economic strategy for the North, but all of that is mid-term, long-term stuff. It doesn't help the short-term feelings of people who have lost their jobs," he said.
"It is is tough industry and it is a company that has been losing money. It has been losing money for awhile."
Updated on Wednesday, August 24, 2016 at 2:33 PM CDT: Adds video.