Sudbury: Thousands of northern Ontario miners, mill workers stay on the job despite COVID-19 – by Eric White (CBC Sudbury -March 25, 2020)

As of Wednesday, only businesses deemed by the province to be “essential” are allowed to keep running in the face of COVID-19. That includes some of the biggest employers in the northeast: mines, sawmills and steel plants are all staying open.

Mike McQuade, CEO of Algoma steel in Sault Ste. Marie, says he feels his company is essential for economic reasons. “While the economy is likely to take a hit from some of the initiatives that have been taken, I think continuing with steel is important to the economy and Sault Ste. Marie in particular,” he says.

McQuade says the global economic downturn caused by COVID-19 is likely to prolong the hard times the steel business has been seeing in recent years, but at least for now, some 2,000 steelworkers will stay on the job.

Mike DaPrat, the president of USW Local 2251 representing most workers at Algoma Steel, says his members are thrilled to still be working, but a bit nervous about going to work.

“We’re going to look at staggering start and quit times because that would hopefully alleviate some of the congestion in the welfare and shower rooms. And we’re looking at staggering lunch breaks, also,” he says.

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