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Mayors emphasize importance of steel industry

Focus of Steel Summit to discuss how to make sector stronger
The Essar Steel Algoma (now Algoma) plant in Sault Ste. Marie is still the primary economic generator in that city. (File photo)

The City of Sault Ste. Marie teamed up with the City of Hamilton on Sept. 7 to make a strong statement about its support for the Canadian steel industry.

Sault Mayor Christian Provenzano, together with Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger, delivered opening remarks during a half-day Steel Summit held in Hamilton.

“It is worth repeating, the facts establish that Canada and the U.S. have a balanced, fair and complementary trade relationship in steel,” said Provenzano.

The Sault's economy was built, and still centres, on the Essar Steel Algoma plant.

“In 2017, $12 billion (US) of steel was traded between our two countries, with each country exporting $6 billion of steel to the other country. I have abiding faith that common sense and the right position will prevail provided that good leadership does not relent. I assure you that I will not relent and I will continue my advocacy for the steel industry and Algoma.” 

The two cities have maintained that tariffs on imported Canadian steel imposed by the U.S. government have negatively impacted the industry in both countries.

Talks at the Steel Summit focused on finding ways to help strengthen the industry.

“Today’s summit reinforces what we already know: that steel is the foundation of Canadian manufacturing and critical to the future of an advanced economy,” Eisenberger said. 

“In these unprecedented times, today’s gathering provided more insight into the complexities of trade and steel. It also reinforces our resilience and our ability to come together ensuring our industry, businesses and workers continue to thrive and succeed.

“I’m encouraged by the dialogue today between steel industry experts, union leaders, government officials, community stakeholders and members of the public.”

In addition to the U.S.-imposed tariffs, Essar has been struggling to come out of bankruptcy protection, under which it has operated since 2015.

A new buyer for the steel plant is expected to take over operations by the end of September.