Union says 2,700 Northern Ontario steelworkers will bear brunt of Canada’s move away from coal
The announcement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Monday seemed like undiluted good news. Ottawa would provide $420 million in aid to Algoma Steel so it could convert its coal-fired furnaces to “electric-arc” technology.
Technology that could cut the greenhouse gasses spewed from the Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., plant dramatically — by the equivalent of 900,000 gas-guzzling cars. But not everyone was enthused.
The union for Algoma’s 2,700 workers fears the retrofit as described Monday could mean hundreds of fewer jobs, and that a small northern Ontario city will have to bear a lopsided burden for Canada’s carbon-reduction goals.
The company responds that the retrofit will not only be a massive boon for the environment, but ensure the plant survives and grows through future turbulence.
Whoever’s right, the labour-market anxieties triggered by the plan may portend more such disputes as the drive to curb greenhouse-gas emissions — and try to stave off climate change — moves ahead.