The three-day Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) Annual General Meeting wrapped up on Monday, September 19th in Regina, Saskatchewan and one of the final orders of business was presentations and debates on policy resolutions, including a joint resolution on the Canadian steel industry brought forward by the Sault Ste. Marie, Hamilton and Windsor-Essex Chambers of Commerce.
The resolution was adopted and the recommended actions of the resolution will now be added to the framework of advocacy efforts to be undertaken by the CCC at the national level. With a network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, representing 200,000 businesses, the CCC is the largest and most influential business association in Canada.
Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce President Paul Johnson, Executive Director Rory Ring and Past President Monica Dale were in attendance representing local Chamber members.
Johnson notes that the Sault has a unique perspective on the steel industry and its interconnectedness to the economy as a whole. He says, “we’ve all seen the direct correlation that the steel industry has on almost every other business in our community. When the steel industry suffers a downturn, every other business sector in our city feels the ramifications, from trades to suppliers and the service sector which relies on the jobs created by the industry.”
Recent studies have shown that Canadian steel producers create over 22,000 direct and more than 100,000 indirect jobs through nineteen facilitates across five provinces, with over $14 billion in annual sales. The economic impact grows exponentially with steel’s role in supplying industries like automotive, aerospace and oil and gas manufacturing across Canada. According to one study, the steel industry has a multiplier of approximately 3.3:1; meaning that every direct job within the industry supports 3.3 jobs in other sectors.
Recently, a combination of increased regulation, the instability of the global market economy and unfair market behavior by foreign competitors has led to a sharp decline in the ability of the Canadian steel industry to compete globally.
Ring notes that the resolution process has been a good one and he hopes that future advocacy by the Canadian Chamber will have positive impacts on the industry, including Essar Steel Algoma. He states “that by working together with the Chambers from Hamilton and the Windsor-Essex Region, the final resolution that went before the Canadian Chamber is truly representative of our national steel industry as a whole. It includes recommendations that have come from industry leaders in all three centers, representing a strong cross-section of Canadian steel manufacturers as well as the businesses that are directly reliant on Canadian steel.”
The resolution makes several recommendations including lobbying the federal government to:
– develop a coordinated steel manufacturing strategy;
– prioritize allocation of carbon pricing revenue to help incentivize energy-intensive industries like steel and evaluate expanding the free allowance coverage under carbon pricing programs to minimize uncertainty, delay and costs;
– implement all current regulatory measures falling under Section 20 of the Special Imports Measures Act for the purposes of calculating anti-dumping measures;
– implement measures that will encourage domestic steel content to be used in all provincially and federally funded projects if the materials can be supplied from domestic sources
Ring adds that the resolution represents the latest step by the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce in its ongoing efforts to advocate on behalf of the community’s steel industry and the spin-off employment created in other sectors. The SSMCOC has directly addressed the issues facing Essar Steel Algoma, and the steel industry as a whole, with elected officials and recently drew national attention to the issue when, along with the Hamilton and Windsor-Essex Chambers, it sent a letter to the Prime Minister asking that the issue of unfair trading practices by Chinese steel producers be addressed during his recent trip to China.