March 24th, 2018

Steel workers in the Sault used to bad news, feel resigned over tariff threats

By The Canadian Press on March 13, 2018.

The Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge and Essar Steel Algoma plant are seen in Sault Ste. Marie on Tuesday, March 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – The threat of U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel imports is being greeted with a mixture of resignation and dread by workers in the heart of steel country in northern Ontario.

David Beauregard has worked as a millwright in Sault Ste. Marie for the past 10 years; he says he and his colleagues at Algoma Steel are worried for their jobs but they also sympathize with their fellow steel workers south of the border.

U.S. President Donald Trump has imposed steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports but has exempted Canada in what may only be a temporary reprieve.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is making the rounds this week of regions that would be most impacted by the tariffs, pledging his support for Canadian workers and companies; he’s scheduled to visit Sault Ste. Marie on Wednesday.

Retired steel worker Ken Suriano says tariffs would devastate the Sault, but he says the city is used to uncertainty around the local mill, which has been under creditor protection for two years.

Rory Ring with the region’s chamber of commerce says more than 40 per cent of the city’s GDP is tied to Algoma, along with more than half the direct and downstream jobs in the area.

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