Forest Industry – Regional Picture

Key Facts:

  • Almost 80% of forest industry employment is concentrated in three provinces: Quebec (31%), British Columbia (27%) and Ontario (21%)
  • Western provinces are more focused on wood product manufacturing and market pulp
  • Pulp produced in the eastern provinces is mostly used directly in the domestic manufacturing of paper products

Learn more about the forest industry’s regional picture

 

Regional market dynamics

With the rise of the digital media era, over the last decade, Canada’s forest industry has endured a deep structural decline in demand for traditional paper around the globe, especially in North America. However, the impacts of these changes have varied among regions across the nation.

Eastern Canada was hit the hardest by the shrinking paper markets because the region has historically been a hub for paper production. Fortunately, strong demand for packaging, specialty paper and softwood lumber is supporting the forest sector in this region of Canada.

Conversely, western provinces are more focused on wood product manufacturing and market pulp. British Columbia and Alberta are two of the largest exporting provinces of softwood lumber and northern bleached softwood kraft (NBSK) pulp. Further to its different industrial profile, the location of western Canada provides an advantageous access to the growing markets in Asia.

The diverging profiles of these regions is expected to persist, given the differing outlooks of subsectors (most traditional paper products will continue to decline, while wood products, specialty paper and bioenergy is expected to rise).

Forest industry real gross domestic product by region, 2017

Forest industry graph
Text version

This graph displays the percentage of Canadian forest industry real gross domestic product by region for 2017. The greatest percentage was in British Columbia (30%), followed by Quebec (28%), Ontario (21%), the Prairie provinces (14%) and the Atlantic provinces (7%).

 

Regional exports

British Columbia is Canada’s leading exporter of softwood lumber, structural wood panels, and wood pulp.

Pulp produced in the eastern provinces is mostly used directly in the domestic manufacturing of paper products, while wood pulp produced by western provinces is mostly destined for export.

Quebec represents the bulk of Canada’s remaining newsprint exports. The United States remains Quebec’s largest export market.

Exports of Canadian forest products by province, 2017

Forest industry graph

Note: “Other” forest products includes about 415 product categories.

Text version

This graph displays the value in billions of dollars of Canadian forest product exports in 2017 by province, sub-divided by softwood lumber, structural wood panels, newsprint, wood pulp, printing and writing paper, and other. British Columbia, Quebec, Ontario and Alberta saw the greatest exports by value, which ranged between 3.5 to 14 billion dollars.

 

Provincial exports of Canadian forest products to Canada's top export markets, 2017

Forest industry graph

Note: “All other markets” includes all other global export markets; the five most important by export value in this category are India, Indonesia, Taiwan, Mexico and Thailand.

Text version

This graph displays exports of Canadian forest products by province to Canada’s top export markets in 2017. British Columbia (39.3%), Quebec (27.4%), Ontario (13.3%) and Alberta (9.7%) saw the greatest exports by value. The top export markets by value were the United States (67.9%), China (15.4%), Japan (4.2%), the European Union (3.0%), South Korea (1.7%), and all other markets (7.8%).

 

Regional employment

Almost 80% of forest industry employment is concentrated in three provinces: Quebec (31%), British Columbia (27%) and Ontario (21%).

However, proportionally, the forest industry represents a larger percentage of New Brunswick’s total workforce at 3.5%, followed by British Columbia (2.3%) and Quebec (1.6%).

Forest industry direct employment by province, 2017

Forest industry graph
Text version

This graph displays jobs in thousands by province in 2017, sub-divided by pulp and paper product manufacturing, wood product manufacturing, and in-forest activities. Quebec, British Columbia, and Ontario had the highest total number of jobs, ranging between 40 and 70 thousand jobs.

 

Sources

Regional market dynamics
Statistics Canada. Table: 36-10-0402-01 (formerly CANSIM 379-0030): Gross domestic product (GDP) at basic prices, by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), provinces and territories. Chained (2007) dollars (accessed June 18, 2018).

  • Includes data for NAICS codes 113, 321 and 322.

Regional exports

Exports of Canadian forest products by province

Statistics Canada. Merchandise trade data (obtained via Global Trade Atlas) (special extraction, February 16, 2018).

  • “Other” forest products includes only HS Codes 44, 47 and 48.

Provincial exports of Canadian forest products for Canada’s top export markets

Global Trade Atlas. IHS Markit Inc. (accessed August 27, 2018).

Regional employment

Statistics Canada. CANSIM table 383-0031: Labour statistics consistent with the System of National Accounts (SNA), by province and territory, job category and North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) (accessed May 23, 2018).

  • Data from Statistics Canada’s new Natural Resources Satellite Account (NRSA) are a key source of information on the economic contribution of the forest sector in Canada and will be included in future releases of the Forest Fact Book. The NRSA is the result of collaboration between NRCan and Statistics Canada and is able to capture additional economic activity in segments of the forest industry that have traditionally been difficult to measure, such as wood furniture manufacturing. According to data from the NRSA, the forest sector directly employed 232,549 people across the country in 2017.
  • Statistics Canada released revised 2016 SNA employment data in 2017. In the 2017–2018 Forest Fact Book, total forest sector employment was reported as 211,075. This number was revised to 205,660 by Statistics Canada.