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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney shakes hands with Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen in Edmonton on April 30, 2019.JASON FRANSON/The Canadian Press

The Alberta government says it’s going to defer timber dues for six months in order to help the forest industry retain staff and keep operating through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen says the forest sector is Alberta’s third-largest resource industry, behind energy and agriculture.

But the government says the sector has been experiencing low markets for lumber, oriented strand board and pulp due to the pandemic.

It says the deferral of dues will help many rural economies by protecting stable employment in the forest industry.

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