Ottawa Importing Steel as Canadian Mills Lay Off Workers

New Democrats Standing Up for Canadian Steel

May 24th, 2016

Even as Canadian steel mills are laying off workers due to a lack of demand, the federal government admitted last week that only 19 per cent of the steel in the massive new Champlain Bridge will be made in Canada. New Democratic MPs pressed this issue in Friday’s Question Period (video clip).

Regina–Lewvan MP Erin Weir had raised the matter with Judy Foote, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, at meetings of the Government Operations and Estimates Committee on March 10 and May 17. In Question Period, he pointed out, “She could not tell us whether Canadian or offshore steel will be used in the Alaska highway, the Alexandria Bridge, or other major federal infrastructure projects.”

Hamilton Mountain MP Scott Duvall followed up by questioning the government’s lack of action to address the dumping of underpriced Chinese steel into our market. By contrast, the United States announced a fivefold increase in duties on Chinese cold-rolled flat steel last week.

As Weir had noted at committee: “Producing a tonne of steel in Canada with relatively clean energy and strong environmental standards emits far less carbon than producing it offshore. A further environmental advantage of using Canadian-made steel in Canada is that it minimizes the emissions from transporting the steel.”

Despite the NDP’s limited number of spots in Question Period, it has been by far the strongest voice in Parliament for Canadian steelworkers. For example, Duvall had previously asked the Liberal government to release the former Conservative government’s secret deal with US Steel (video clips). Weir had previously pushed to include Regina in extended Employment Insurance benefits given layoffs at the Evraz steel mill (video clip).