On January 25, 2023, Canfor announced a restructuring of its operations in British Columbia, which will involve the temporary closure of the Houston sawmill. This decision is pending a final investment decision from Canfor, which will be announced by the end of June 2023. The closure of the sawmill will have significant impacts on the Houston community, including indirect effects on logging contractors and downstream impacts on secondary manufacturers in the region.
This portal serves as a centralized hub for Houston businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and impacted workers to access information, resources, and support. The portal offers various resources and support services including:
The District of Houston is actively gathering information and resources to coordinate a unified approach in response to the Canfor mill closure. Working alongside the Regional Economic Recovery Team and the Provincial Community Transition Rapid Response Team, the District and other stakeholders aim to help local community members and businesses access programs and support services available in the region.
To keep the community informed about upcoming events, programs, and support services, the District of Houston will share information on its Facebook page and the "Houston Impacted Worker & Business Resource Portal" section of the District's website.
For further inquiries, please contact Andrea Newell, Director of Economic and Community Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the District Office at 250-845-2238.
The StrongerBC future skills grant is open to British Columbians aged 19 years or older – regardless of financial need – and covers up to $3,500 per person for eligible short-term skills training at public post-secondary institutions.
The grant will help learners access eligible short-term skills training to further their careers, upgrade their skills and enhance their productivity, giving them access to well-paid, high opportunity occupations. Learners can choose from a growing list of more than 400 programs.
Coast Mountain College has broadened the Morice Community Skills Centre Legacy Fund in hopes of meeting the financial needs of more individuals in the Houston area. They have updated the website, application form and increased the maximum amount to $2,500. There is $25,000 available for 10 awards.
CNC Training Opportunities
Bridging to Retirement Program - is open for impacted and voluntary full-time workers at least 55 years old – who are B.C. forestry mill workers, forestry-dependent contractors and their employees – to transition to retirement. Forestry workers could be eligible for up to $75,000 in retirement bridging funding, depending on individual factors including years of experience, age at retirement and employer contribution. *This program has changed. After receiving bridging benefits, you can be an employee in any industry, except the forestry industry for 18 months . Retirees can open and run their own business, as long as it’s not in the forestry industry.
Get Youth Working - this program offers employment counselling, job entry skills, certificate training, paid work experience, mentoring and post job placement support to eligible youth 17-29 years of age. Employers that hire and train eligible youth and provide full time sustainable employment are eligible for a negotiated wage subsidy incentive.
Information sheets are available for:
Skills Training Programs for Impacted Workers - supporting British Columbians living in communities impacted by mill closures and shift reductions, this program provides access to skills training and employment supports to assist participants in achieving sustainable employment.
WorkBC Employment Services – contact the Smithers office to book an appointment to meet with a career coach in Houston. Call 1-877-564-3545 (toll free) or sign up online. See information sheet on how to get an OES account or watch a short YouTube video.
WorkBC Training and Supports - learn about the training and support programs available to help you develop essential job skills.
Public access computers are available at Houston Link to Learning, Houston Community Services and at Houston Public Library.
Community Futures Nadina Business Services – offers many services including business & financial planning, business coaching, help with marketing plans, brainstorming and direction and resources for the process of starting , buying, or growing a business.
Futurpreneur Canada - is the only national, non-profit organization that provides financing, mentoring and support tools to aspiring business owners aged 18-39.
Taking Care of Business - is a membership platform providing professional support to businesses, not-for-profits and individuals exploring entrepreneurship throughout British Columbia.
Dze L Kant Friendship Centre - serves Indigenous families living off- reserve, and vulnerable community members. Our clients are often geographically removed from their communities and support networks. All of our programming is free and offers vital programs from infancy to elders for all community members to access. Programs are designed to increase overall resiliency and social detriments of health through supportive cultural and holistic programming, activities and social service supports. Current programs include: Aboriginal Early Childhood Development program, Indigenous Early years, Indigenous Housing Support Program, Mental Health Counsellor, After School and summer program, Aboriginal Family connection program and Free Legal Advocacy.
Houston Community Services Association - is a non-profit organization offering: family support, child & youth services, babysitting training, child care centre (Beanstalk Day Care), parenting groups, and car seat rental program. Offer support for federal and provincial forms, commissioner of taking affidavits and supplementary services for youth probation. Offers drug/alcohol counseling. Offers support under the umbrella of Houston/Granisle RCMP Victim Services.
Houston Link to Learning – is a non-profit literacy agency offering literacy programs and services for families and children including: Jumpstart, one on one tutoring, food skills for families, Silverthorne summer program, Literacy Outreach program, Fostering Literacy program, and Life Skills programming. Offers the Early Years Resource Centre and Better Homes Program. Hosts family/children community events, and offers a computer lab for the public. Organizes the Houston Farmer's Market and the Houston Community Gardens.
Northern Society for Domestic Peace - is a non-profit, social service agency that offers a continuum of support services to individuals and families in the Northwest BC. NSDP has offices in Smithers, Houston and Hazelton.
B.C. Employer Training Grant Program - provides funding to small, medium and large enterprises to support skills training for their workforces, including prospective new hires. The intent of this program is to help British Columbians access the skills training required to adapt to the labour market’s changing job requirements, while also encouraging employer involvement in skills training. The Employer Training Grant helps employers pay for training, which in turn helps employees experience increased job security or move into better jobs. Employers can apply as often as they need and receive 80 per cent of the cost of training up to $10,000 per employee, with a maximum annual amount per employer of $300,000.
WorkBC Wage Subsidy Program - program covers a part of employee wages so employers can hire job seekers and provide work opportunities. Both unemployed individuals and employers in B.C. can benefit from WorkBC Wage Subsidy.
BC Manufacturing Jobs Fund - this program reflects the Province's ongoing commitment to promote economic diversification and complements other supports for forestry workers and rural communities. MJF will invest up to $180 million in manufacturing projects throughout B.C. The program will begin accepting proposals on February 28, 2023 and will remain open to proposals for approximately two years, or until all funds are allocated.
Community Futures Nadina Business Loans - whether your business is in the start-up phase or in a position of expansion, Community Futures gives businesses access to small business loans when traditional financial institutions are unable to help.
Indigenous Forestry Initiative - provides financial support to Indigenous-led economic development projects in Canada’s forest sector.
NDIT Competitiveness Consulting Rebate Program - provides a rebate to small and medium-sized businesses in eligible industries for customized consulting services. A rebate of up to 50% to a yearly maximum of $30,000 can be recovered for the cost of external business consulting projects. Projects must focus on increased resiliency, productivity, revenues, profitability and/or job creation.
NDIT Northern Industries Innovation Fund (NIIF) Program - The Northern Industries Innovation Fund (NIIF) program provides incremental funding to support innovation projects that increase the competitiveness of local businesses in traditional industries across Northern B.C. The program is also intended to support economic diversification and/or viability of businesses to mitigate the economic impact of the pine beetle epidemic. NIIF supports applied research and development, new or improved products and services, and testing of innovative equipment or technologies to support capital investment decisions.
NDIT Small Business Recovery (SBR) Consulting Rebate Program - in response to the impact various industry and regional economic conditions (downturns, natural disasters and other business continuity events) have on businesses in central and northern B.C., Northern Development is offering the Small Business Recovery (SBR) Consulting Rebate program. This program is designed to help businesses reduce the barrier to accessing professional expertise and recover the costs of third-party consulting projects. These types of projects must focus on ways to sustain business operations and recover business health and profitability to pre-event levels. The SBR Consulting Rebate will reimburse small and medium sized businesses (operators) for contracted consulting services.
Pacific Economic Development Canada – financial support for businesses and not-for-profit organizations with projects that advance economic growth and diversity in British Columbia. Formerly known as Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD).
Community Transition Services – offers in community support after job loss.
Community Workforce Response Grant - this stream meets the immediate skills training needs of communities impacted by downturns in the forest sector due to old-growth deferrals, changes in forest management practices, mill closures and curtailments, or other forestry-related issues. The Emerging Priorities Stream opens in March 2023.
Forest Employment Program - creates short-term employment to help forest contractors explore new work.
Rural Economic Diversification and Infrastructure Program - this program supports rural economic development projects that promote economic capacity building, economic diversification, resilience, clean economy opportunities and infrastructure development.
Supports for Forestry Workers and Rural Communities - includes help for those affected by old growth forest deferrals. The Province will provide coordinated and comprehensive supports for workers by looking at how they can improve existing programs and through the development of new programs. More details are coming soon and this website will provide updated information on the help available.
Canfor Mill Closure Press Release – January 25, 2023
Minister’s statement of Canfor’s restructuring" – January 25, 2023
District of Houston’s Response to Canfor Corporations Announcement of Extended Period Closure of the Houston Sawmill" – January 27, 2023
District of Houston Transition Update #1 – February 17, 2023
District of Houston Transition Update #2 – March 10, 2023
Letter to the editor: Houston council wants government to invest in forest communities – April 20, 2023 The District Of Houston Remains Resilient In Light Of Canfor's Investment Delay – July 27, 2023
CANFOR TO BUILD NEW STATE-OF-THE-ART MILL IN HOUSTON, BC – September 14, 2023
District of Houston Celebrates Canfor's Investment Decision to Build a New State-of-the-Art Manufacturing Facility – September 14, 2023