With tariffs still in place, Ottawa commits $150M to Algoma Steel
The funding is expected to maintain and create 3,050 Algoma jobs in Sault Ste. Marie, although it's unclear how many new positions will be added.0
OTTAWA – The federal government announced $150 million in support for Ontario’s Algoma Steel on Thursday, Jan. 10, in a commitment aimed at helping the producer deal with the American tariffs on steel and aluminum, The Canadian Press has learned.
The federal government invested $90 million, a third stemming from a Strategic Innovation Fund grant. The remaining $60 million is a loan from FedDev Ontario agency, a federal agency supporting provincial economic growth. Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains made the announcement at Algoma’s plant in Sault Ste. Marie.
The government support comes as Canadian steel and aluminum producers continue to face punishing levies imposed last June by U.S. President Donald Trump.
Canada has rejected the premise of the American duties—that its metals exports pose a national-security threat to the U.S.—and has been fighting for the removal of the tariffs. Ottawa has implemented tariffs of its own on a long list of U.S. imports in hope of forcing Washington to back down.
The U.S. tariffs, however, remain in place.
The federal Liberals were criticized last fall for signing a new North American trade pact, which includes the U.S., without securing any guarantees from Washington that it would lift the levies.
The funding is expected to maintain and create 3,050 Algoma jobs in Sault Ste. Marie, although it’s unclear how many new positions will be added.
The government funding is to help support Algoma in its effort to bring in new technologies, improve productivity and stay competitive in international markets.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau met with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday last week. Morneau has pressed Mnuchin in the past on the tariff issue.
Jeni Armstrong, a spokeswoman for Morneau, said in an email that the minister and secretary met in Washington to discuss “the ongoing need to resolve steel and aluminum tariffs” as well as the cross-border trading relationship. She said Morneau also thanked Mnuchin for the U.S.’s public statements of support on the two Canadians detained on national-security grounds in China.
Earlier last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed the tariffs in a phone call with Trump, according to a readout of their conversation.
Last June, Ottawa released a financial aid package for industries caught in the crossfire of the tariff dispute.
Ottawa’s tariff relief package included up to $2 billion in fresh funding and support for the steel, aluminum and manufacturing sectors and their workers. For companies, Ottawa promised up to $1.7 billion worth of financing and services for steel and aluminum industries through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada.
As part of the tariff relief, Bains announced a commitment last October of up to $49.9 million through the strategic innovation fund for steel producer ArcelorMittal Canada. Bains said the investment would support up to 4,700 jobs in Hamilton, Ont., and 1,700 more in Contrecoeur, Que.News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016