The government of Quebec announced earlier this week a plan to come to the rescue of the province’s smaller aluminium and steel firms by way of a C$100-million loan package.
As hinted at last week, Canadian Economy Minister Dominique Anglade rolled out the plan on Monday shortly after meeting with representatives of the province’s aluminium and steel stakeholders.
According to representatives of the smaller smelters, their US clients are balking at paying the added costs.
“The clients are not willing to pay the tariff increase … so we know already that there is an impact,” Anglade explained to reporters after the meeting.
She continued by saying that the loans in question are but a first step in a bigger campaign to protect Quebec’s small smelters. A decision on subsequent measures will be made after a meeting next week with smelter representatives to assess the situation.
“What’s going to be really important is to stay agile and be connected to what the companies are telling us,” she elaborated.
“We want to protect the interests of the workers, as well.”
Quebec’s aluminium sector is among the biggest in the world, providing jobs for 30,000 residents. The province’s exports continued to strengthen as well, jumping by 27 percent in 2017 to C$6.1 billion.
Canada’s labor unions were represented at Monday’s meeting, and the commentary from Quebec’s head of the United Steelworkers Union Alain Croteau indicated that Quebec’s workforce is on board with the province’s plans to date.
Though “worrying,” he said that labor and management has teamed up with the provincial government for the greater good of Quebec’s aluminium industry.
“We need to work together in Canada to move things in the U.S. We have to show them that we’re an integral part of their economy; we’re allies,” said Croteau.
The Trump administration levied tariffs on Canadian aluminium on June 1, while Quebec recently announced reciprocal tariffs on United States aluminium, which are set to be implemented on July 1.