Trade and International Affairs

U.S. tariffs would hurt Canadian workers despite exemptions

March 8, 2018

Canada’s unions are calling on federal and provincial governments to stand up to U.S. trade aggression and support Canada’s steel and aluminum industries and their workers.

U.S. President Trump released his finalized steel and aluminum tariff package today, with temporary exemptions for Canada and Mexico.

Despite these exemptions, today’s announcement will mean that Canadian producers will be competing with the excess supply of steel and aluminum diverted from the U.S. market.

“The steel and aluminum sectors are one of Canada’s key economic drivers and employers, directly and indirectly supporting good jobs in nearly every region in Canada,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff.

“Canadian steel and aluminum should have a permanent exemption from American tariffs. Canada and the U.S. have an integrated economy that has yielded economic benefits for both countries, but this move jeopardizes the future of that relationship,” said Yussuff.

The steel sector supports 22,000 direct jobs across Canada and the aluminum sector supports nearly 10,000 direct jobs mostly in BC and Quebec, with supply chains and related industries affecting more than 100,000 additional workers.

“The Canadian government must take immediate action to prevent foreign steel and aluminum dumping in the Canadian market. The federal and provincial governments must also be prepared to assist Canadian workers and steel manufacturers who will need support to maintain their livelihoods and stay in business,” said Yussuff.

Yussuff also underscored that this announcement should not impact ongoing NAFTA negotiations.

The Canadian Labour Congress is asking for the federal government to put together a rapid response working group with industry and worker representatives to develop a package to support workers, businesses, and communities.

Elements of a package could include:

  • Action by Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to address any trade diversion caused by US measures;
  • Additional resources devoted to border agents and inspections to ensure Canadian market isn’t flooded with dumped products;
  • Policy measures that prioritize the use of Canadian made steel and aluminum for energy projects within Canada. This would enable the government to meet its stated aim of developing Canada’s energy resources in an environmentally responsible way.
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