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Sault chamber takes steel to the Hill

Steel dumping on federal committee agenda
Algoma Steel Platemaking
Plate making at Essar Steel Algoma.

Chambers of commerce from Sault Ste. Marie, Hamilton and Windsor-Essex are in Ottawa to appear before the federal government’s Standing Committee on International Trade to discuss unfair foreign steel trading practices and the impact on communities and business.

Sault chamber CEO Rory Ring was scheduled to make a presentation before the committee on March 21.

Joining the chambers are steel producers Essar Steel Algoma, Stelco, Gerdau Long Steel North America, and Evraz North America to discuss how increased regulation, unstable global markets, unfair market behavior by foreign competitors has led to a sharp decline in the ability of the Canadian steel industry to compete globally.

Sault Ste. Marie seamless steel tube producer Tenaris will be presenting before the committee on March 23.

In a news release, Sault chamber CEO Rory Ring, who’ll be making a presentation to the standing committee, said the city’s economy and business community has severely felt the brunt of the struggles of Essar Steel Algoma, now under creditor protection.

Since 2011, Ring said the city has lost 2,500 residents and not experienced any GDP growth.

More than 500 small businesses are gone, the unemployment rate is higher than the national average, there’s reduced labour market participation, and “devaluation in industrial, commercial and residential assessment which impacts the municipality’s ability to financially meet its service demands.”

Ring indicates that “while the impacts of steel dumping will be discussed, innovation and ingenuity that has developed as a result of Canada’s steel industry also needs to be looked at.”

Ring said the steel industry plays an important and exponential role in supplying the automotive, aerospace, oil and gas manufacturing. But he notes that the local steel cluster has produced some success stories, namely fabricators like SIS Manufacturing and Heliene, a local solar panel maker.

Canadian steel producers create over 22,000 direct and more than 100,000 indirect jobs through nineteen facilitates across five provinces, with over $14 billion in annual sales.