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Final day for employees at Domtar pulp mill in Espanola, Ont.

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Thursday was the final day of work for employees on the pulp side of Domtar’s pulp and paper mill in Espanola.

They’ll be laid off after the company reported operating losses over the past several years.

The union that represents workers has been attempting to soften the impact.

Stephen Boon, the Northern Area director of Unifor, said an agreement was reached with the company to try to offer as many early retirement packages as possible.

“So there’s been a lot of work that’s been done to soften the impact of this announcement but at the same time we know it’s still going to be difficult,” Boon said.

In a statement to CTV News, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry Graydon Smith said he is disappointed with Domtar’s decision to idle the mill.

"Our government has engaged with the company to better understand the details of the decision and explore any possible alternatives,” the statement said.

Thursday was the final day of work for employees on the pulp side of Domtar’s pulp and paper mill in Espanola. (Angela Gemmill/CTV News)

But it doesn’t appear to be all doom and gloom. Mayor Douglas Gervais said he is optimistic about Espanola’s future.

“I believe that I am a very positive person and all of council is,” Gervais said.

“It’s a great feeling to be supported by the community ‘cause they are very supportive and we’re doing very well with it.”

Johnathan Nadeau is a third-generation Domtar worker who finished work a few days ago. He has a unique perspective given he’s also a town councillor.

LEVEL OF POSITIVITY

“A lot of people have found other work and that’s been good and helped keep a level of positivity within the mill and the community,” Nadeau said.

“On my final day I was lucky enough to go walk around, shook a lot of people’s hands, wished them the best of luck. We kind of talked about the next steps.”

Gervais said he is hopeful a new employer will set up shop in his community, although nothing has been confirmed yet.

“We’re very positive that things are going to turn around at Domtar, and if not we’re still going to be OK,” he said.

More layoffs will happen in January once the paper side of the mill closes.

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