·  Statement   ·  

Our New Year’s Resolution: Let’s Buy Canadian

Statement by Stephen Hunt, United Steelworkers Western Canada Director

BURNABY, B.C. – Let’s cut right to the chase. It’s time that we demand all levels of government adopt Buy Canadian policies to protect Canadian jobs.

Thousands of Steelworkers were laid off in 2020 not due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but due to the policies of governments across Canada.

Steel is being illegally dumped in Canada to lower its price. Governments at all levels are failing Canadian workers by allowing major public- and private-sector projects to import offshore steel and pre-fabricated parts, all at the expense of Canadian manufacturers and workers.

We produce steel using iron ore and metallurgical coal mined in Canada or by recycling scrap to use in electric arc furnaces. The foreign steel our governments are importing has a significantly higher environmental impact than steel made here at home. By using steel made in Canada we can save 12 million tons of greenhouse gases annually.

It’s time for governments to step up.

I find it deeply concerning that government procurement policies for major construction projects like the new Pattullo Bridge in Surrey, the Kitimat LNG project, replacement lines for SaskEnergy and the Northern Alberta TC Energy project do not prioritize the use of Canadian steel.

It's disturbing to see that we have bridges, pipelines and other important infrastructure projects being built with foreign imported steel. We can and must do better and that starts with buying local.

We know the only way to get the economy restarted will be the injection of massive funding into infrastructure projects. And, that work must be done with workers in mind.

The Canadian steel industry employs 23,000 people directly and another 100,000 indirectly. The steel industry is essential not only to the Canadian economy as a whole, but it provides community-sustaining jobs across the country. For every job in direct steelmaking, three-to-four spinoff jobs are created.

Many workers involved in making steel in Canada have workplace protections that come with a union – a voice on the job, better pay and benefits, respect and dignity at work – elements that would be often missing from some foreign steel manufacturers.

Major steel mills and service centres form the lifeblood of many small and medium-sized communities. With government investments in our steel sector, we can keep our communities strong. Canadian workers cannot afford more job losses and having good-paying Canadian jobs moved offshore.

To have a strong economic recovery plan for 2021, governments will need to commit to investing in creating new jobs and building new infrastructure projects. When those projects are being planned and sent for procurement, let’s remember to Buy Canadian.

It’s time to act now to stand up for Canadian steel.

Stephen Hunt is the United Steelworkers Director for Western Canada.


For further information:

Stephen Hunt, USW Western Canada Director, 604-816-2554, shunt@usw.ca
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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