How does the forest industry contribute to the economy?

The forest industry is one of Canada’s most important manufacturing sectors. In 2016, it:

  • accounted for about 7% of Canada’s total exports
  • injected roughly $23 billion into Canada’s economy
  • directly supported about 211,075 jobs across the country, including an estimated 9,700 Indigenous people
  • generated more than $1 billion in revenue (2015) for provincial and territorial governments

What is the forest industry?

Traditional forest products are the backbone of the Canadian forest industry. These include lumber and other solid wood products, and pulp and paper. The forest industry also includes upstream activities, such as forest management and logging. However, non-traditional forest products (for example, advanced bioproducts) are growing in prominence, especially given Canada’s commitment to clean technology and a transition to a low-carbon economy.

An economic engine for communities coast to coast

Forest operations are located in all regions of Canada except the far north:

  • Over 50% of forest industry jobs are located in Ontario and Quebec.
  • About 38% of forest industry jobs are located in the Prairie provinces and British Columbia, with the vast majority being in British Columbia.
  • A little under 10% of forest industry jobs are located in Atlantic Canada.

While the Canadian forest industry is a major employer nationwide, its economic contributions are particularly important in many rural and Indigenous communities, where forest-related work is often the main source of income and crucial to ensuring their economic sustainability.

The forest industry’s largest export markets

Globalization is increasing trade possibilities beyond Canadian producers’ traditional markets. The U.S. market has long been the main importer of Canadian forest products. However, the hard impact of the U.S. housing crash and worldwide financial crisis spurred Canadian producers to expand to other markets. Exports to Asian markets, mainly China, have risen sharply over the past decade and helped mitigate the negative effects of the U.S. downturn.

Graphic displays the product export values, in billions of Canadian dollars, for: United States of America, China, Japan and all other export markets as well as the total Canadian forest product exports for 2016.
 
Graph data
Table displays the product export values, in billions of Canadian dollars, for: United States of America, China, Japan and all other export markets as well as the total Canadian forest product exports for 2016.
United States of America
(billion Canadian dollars)
China
(billion Canadian dollars)
Japan
(billion Canadian dollars)
All other export markets
(billion Canadian dollars)
Total Canadian forest product exports
(billion Canadian dollars)
23.8 4.8 1.4 4.4 34.4
Sources
Note
  • Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service’s calculations based on Statistics Canada’s table 379-0031: GDP in 2007 constant prices, and estimated industry price deflators.
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