TORONTO, 29 June 2018 – “The counter-tariff and community support measures announced today by the federal government is a good first step that will need to be expanded if the trade dispute continues beyond the short-term,” said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers (USW) National Director.
“The unreasonable imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs by Donald Trump is harmful to communities and workers on both sides of the border. As we have continually said: Canada is not the problem. The balanced and integrated trade between Canada and the U.S. is the wrong target,” said Neumann.
The problem lies with the bad actors on the international scene, such as China, that dump metals, manipulate currency and have dramatically unbalanced trade.
A dollar-for-dollar response to those tariffs is a necessary and prudent reaction to the unprovoked aggression.
The announced assistance to industry via loan guarantees ($1.7B) and innovation funds ($250M) will be helpful to the steel and aluminum industries. The assistance to workers is much more modest.
The adjustment to Employment Insurance for affected workers (work share duration increased to 76 weeks) is welcome. However, more can be done, such as eliminating the different hours needed to qualify for EI and extending the total length a worker can receive EI.
We also need to be looking at additional measures such as an active monitoring mechanism to respond to the tariffs’ effectiveness. If this dispute continues, we will need to consider more supports for training and mobility, such as grants to assist workers in relocation and new opportunities.
“It is important the community/workers support measures are implemented immediately and extend as long as necessary,” said Neumann.
An important aspect the USW has been emphasizing is the safeguard of our borders against the products being dumped into Canada. We would like to see immediate safeguards, rather than simply further consultation on the issue announced today.