by Phil Ambroziak

As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, operations have been drastically impacted at the NorSask sawmill east of Meadow Lake.

According to a piece of correspondence issued to Meadow Lake city council Monday (March 23), the mill will be temporarily transitioning to single-shift production starting at the end of this month.

This was subsequently confirmed by NorSask general manager Kelly Lehoux when contacted by Northern Pride yesterday (March 25).

“NorSask will be going down to single shift production starting March 30,” Lehoux said. “This will affect approximately 42 employees. The COVID-19 virus has had a negative impact on U.S. markets and building activity in the U.S. which is approximately 50 per cent of total NorSask sales.”

Lehoux also said the health and safety of NorSask’s employees remains a high priority for the company going forward with many new measures in place to reduce/eliminate risk of becoming infected with COVID-19.

“We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and market conditions daily with the hope our employees will be impacted as little as possible,” he added.

Meanwhile, the letter to city council issued by NorSask’s parent company, MLTC Industrial Investments, reiterates the impact the coronavirus has had on the American lumber market.

“The virus is causing so much economic turmoil, buyers in the U.S. who normally buy NorSask’s lumber are now sitting on the sidelines not purchasing our lumber,” the letter reads. “The U.S. lumber market has dried up by as much as 50 per cent.”

NorSask estimates the market impact of COVID-19 could be five months, all the way until August.