Ontario’s steel industry is in crisis and a union leader wants the provincial government to help find a solution.
In a letter to Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid, United Steelworkers Ontario director Marty Warren calls for an Ontario Steel Industry Action Plan to save an industry that supports 20,000 direct and 100,000 spinoff jobs across the country. Most of those jobs, Warren writes, are in Ontario.
“As you are no doubt aware, the price of steel has dropped sharply, plunging the industry into a worldwide crisis,” he said. “If the crisis is not resolved soon, these thousands of men and women and their families are in critical danger of losing their livelihoods.”
That’s more than an empty threat, he said, noting two of the province’s largest producers — U.S. Steel Canada and Essar Steel Algoma in Sault Ste. Marie — are already under creditor protection.
Specifically, Warren calls for short-term loans to help companies deal with unstable markets, support for research and development and workforce training and money for pension and health-care benefits for retirees. That’s a special problem in Hamilton where 20,000 Stelco-U.S. Steel Canada pensioners have lost benefits in the company’s restructuring.
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