Williams Lake Evacuation Order Lifted!

The evacuation order in Williams Lake has been lifted; residents can now return home!

Our team in Williams Lake are preparing for the return of our employees to the Lakeview and Soda Creek mills.

Mill Supervisors will be reaching out to employees shortly to schedule you in for shifts. Some maintenance work will commence Friday, July 28 depending on the availability of employees and first aid coverage. Other hourly employees will be starting as early as Monday, July 31.

To ensure you do not miss the call from your Supervisor, email your phone number to WL.HR@tolko.com, if you have not done so already.

If you are unable to report to work due to evacuation alerts or orders or health concerns, please inform your Supervisor when they call.

Salaried employees, your Supervisor will contact you directly to arrange a return to work date.

We realize several of our salaried and hourly employees will be travelling as we try to coordinate upcoming shifting. Please remain safe while travelling and respond to our calls when safe to do so.

The areas that have been changed from an evacuation order to an evacuation alert include:
  • The City of Williams Lake;
  • Sugarcane;
  • 150 Mile House;
  • Fox Mountain;
  • Esler;
  • Pine Valley; and
  • Springhouse.
Due to ongoing wildfire operations, evacuation orders will remain in place for the following areas:
  • areas north and south of Mountain House Road, including Wildwood;
  • the Spokin Lake area;
  • areas along Soda Creek Road and Frizzi Road;
  • Soda Creek First Nation; and
  • areas in the Chilcotin.
*No entry to areas remaining under evacuation order will be permitted.

Who do I contact if I have any questions or concerns?
If you have any questions or issues, please contact our HR team for assistance via email at
WL.HR@tolko.com .

Here are some additional tips to keep in mind when returning to Williams Lake and your homes:
  • Checkpoints remain in place at key entry points into Williams Lake.
  • Be prepared for significant delays on travel routes.
  • For safety reasons gas and electrical equipment exposed to fire or water should never be turned on without being inspected by a licensed contractor.
  • Know the reconnection requirements – In most areas directly impacted by the fires, your local gas and electrical utilities may have turned off your connections. If your gas meter or gas supply has been turned off, do not attempt to turn it on yourself. Call your local utility or supplier for further guidance.
  • Be appliance aware – Any electrical, gas or heating equipment subjected to fire, or to water as part of firefighting efforts, should not be plugged in or turned on. This includes furnaces, boilers, ovens, refrigerators, gas barbecues, etc. Call a licensed gas or electrical contractor to inspect it first.
  • Use a licensed contractor – It’s always important to use a licensed contractor when having gas or electrical work done, but it becomes particularly important after a natural disaster due to potential issues around safety, home insurance and liability.
  • If in doubt, get out – If you smell rotten eggs, it could be a natural gas or propane leak. Stop what you’re doing and do not create any source of ignition. Do not use your cellphone or landline and do not operate electrical switches. Exit the premises, leaving the door open behind you. Once outside call your gas utility, propane supplier or 911.
  • Stay aware of carbon monoxide (CO), which is a colourless, odourless, toxic gas produced when fuel-burning appliances are not functioning properly.

Update from Service Canada

Our thanks to Service Canada who reached out today with the following update for employees who are beginning the EI applications process. We have also added their presentation to the resources below. 

Employment Insurance Benefits (EI): www.canada.ca
Affected workers should apply for EI as soon as possible, even without a Record of Employment (ROE). 

In order to facilitate and accelerate the processing of the EI claims of affected workers, the following reference code has been created: 5986012017071017

Direct Deposit and Contact information:
We encourage all clients to sign up for direct deposit. Direct deposit is the most efficient and surest method of payment, and it will not be impacted by a postal disruption or natural disaster.

My Service Canada Account (MSCA): https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/my-account.html 
My Service Canada Account provides convenient and secure access to view and update your Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan, and Old Age Security information online. Access to the MSCA allows you to view:

  • Employment Insurance information
  • Tax information slips
  • Canada Pension Plan Statement of Contributions
  • Personal information• Direct Deposit
Receiving your payments: If you were expecting to receive a payment by cheque and you need a replacement cheque, please call:
  • 1-800-206-7218 for EI payments
  • 1-800-277-9914 (Option "1") for CPP and OAS payments
For questions about mail delivery, please contact Canada Post Customer Service at 1-888-550-6333.

Thank you to those protecting our mills and our communities

We’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks to fire fighters, RCMP and our own Tolko crew and contractors who are out fighting fires and protectingThank You Fire Fighters communities in the Williams Lake area.

Our crews, along with the local fire department, continue with protective measures at the Soda Creek and Lakeview mills. The level of attention this area of town has received, and the plans in place to protect the Tolko, West Fraser and Sigurdson facilities, are amazing!

We also want to thank our employees in the Okanagan and Kamloops area, who have opened their homes and acreages to our fellow colleagues. If you are an evacuated Tolko employee, looking for a temporary place to call home, be sure to contact us.

Accommodation assistance for Tolko evacuees

We know many of our Williams Lake employees are on their way to Kamloops tonight because of the evacuation order. We know this is a stressful time, and resources in Kamloops may be quickly overwhelmed by the number of people who are headed that way.

Your Tolko family is here to help! We have currently put out a call to Okanagan and Kamloops area employees and are building a database of anyone who has extra rooms/beds/floor space.

If you are a Tolko employee that has been evacuated, please email: emergencyresponse@tolko.onmicrosoft.com and indicate:
- Number of people in your group (adults/children)
- Whether you have a pet (what kind)
- A contact phone number

For Tolko employees arriving in Kamloops with trailers, our Heffley Creek mill can accommodate many of you. The mill is located at 6275 Old Highway 5. We will have water and other services that are needed set up as soon as we can. 

Our team is mobilizing and getting ready to receive anyone arriving on site. 

Stay safe. 

Tolko encourages all employees to start their EI claim 

July 15 - Williams Lake, B.C. We continue to monitor the situation in Williams Lake over the weekend. At this time, we can tell you our Soda Creek and Lakeview mills will not be operational for the foreseeable future.

For employees at these divisions, this means you need to start your Employment Insurance (EI) claim process now.

We anticipate we will have all employee ROEs filed via the Canada Revenue Agency's electronic system by Thursday, July 20. Please note: You DO NOT need to wait until your ROE is filed to start your EI claim process. In order to facilitate and accelerate the processing of the EI claims of affected workers, the following reference code has been created: 5986012017071017.

For more information, and to get the process started, visit the Government of Canada Employment and Social Development website. 

Looking out for families: Tolko to provide aid to Williams Lake employees

VERNON, British Columbia – Tolko Industries Ltd. will provide all active hourly employees (regular and spareboard), from both our Lakeview and Soda Creek divisions, with a one-time $1000 lump sum payment to aid them during this challenging time. This payment will be distributed to all 326 hourly employees from both mills and represents an overall contribution of $326,000.

See our full release here.

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Top 5 Questions

Where can I get information on payroll, benefits, etc.?
For all HR questions, please contact WL.HR@tolko.com. We are encouraging all employees of our Soda Creek and Lakeview mills to apply for Employment Insurance immediately!

Tolko has started filing Records of Employment (ROEs) electronically. However, you do not need your ROE to get the process started. Visit the Government of Canada's Wildfires page to get started!
When will the mill return to operations?
The mill will return to operations as soon as it is safe and sustainable to do so. We post regular updates on the status of the mail on this page, on Facebook and on Twitter.
How is Tolko supporting the community?
We are directly supporting firefighting efforts in the community through our Woodlands department. They, together with our contractors and consultants, have been assigned to manage several fires in the area. We will continue to do this for as long as we can maintain the safety of our staff. We are also providing large equipment and hand tools to the BC Wildfire Service and to other communities to aid with firefighting efforts. 
At the mill, our mill staff has done an excellent job in their fire prevention efforts. Protecting the mills, which are a source of employment for nearly 400 people in the community, is essential and is no small task. The teams have done everything they can to ensure prevention methods are in place and working.
How do I apply for help from the Red Cross?
The following information has been distributed by the Red Cross.
Evacuee registration
Canadian Red Cross
Evacuees are asked to please to register with the Canadian Red Cross, even if aid is not required. Registering will allow family and friends to know the whereabouts of loved ones and that they are safe.
It also allows the Canadian Red Cross to contact people directly as more information and assistance becomes available. To register, visit www.redcross.ca or call 1 800 863-6582.
The registration form will ask for your basic information about you and your household such as name, date of birth, email address, and home address.
Please note: evacuees are asked to also register with their local social services reception centre.
What Employee Family Assistance Program support is available to me and my family?
Tolko’s Employee and Family Assistance Program is available to all employees. A brochure with additional information is available below or you can call: 1.800.663.1142. Homewood has made extra counsellors available to help employees and their dependents via telephone counselling through this difficult time.

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