There are 50 full-time job losses on the way at Ivaco Rolling Mills in L’Orignal.
According to a press release issued jointly by the company and the United Steelworkers Union (USW) on April 1, the mill is going from a four-crew to three-crew schedule to operate the plant, which manufactures steel billets and wire rod, and currently employs 538 people.
The difficult market conditions include an overcapacity of steel, but the biggest issue is the tariffs—also known as the US-232 trade action, imposed by the Trump administration on steel and aluminum made outside the United States.
The tariffs make Canadian-made steel less affordable for American purchasers, which makes it more difficult for Canadian steel companies to export their products to the US.
Ironically, the conglomerate that owns Ivaco, Heico Companies LLC, is an American company, based in Chicago.
The press release also states the European Union has also taken measures to safeguard its steel market from the US tariffs, which has also led to more steel being diverted to Canada.
“Canada is one of the most exposed steel markets in the world, and the lack of resolution to the US-232 trade action continues to hamper exports and increase flow of diverted steel into Canada, causing significant harm to the industry,” said Ivaco Chief Financial Officer Will Trower.
Despite the job losses, Trower insisted the company remains committed to manufacturing steel in Canada.
“These layoffs are devastating to our members and the community,” said USW Eastern Ontario Coordinator Richard Leblanc.
He said the union is working hard, both in Canada and the US to have the “illegal and unjustified” tariffs eliminated.
Leblanc said the USW wants the Canadian government to implement safeguards like the European Union has in order to protect Canadian jobs in the steel industry.
Ivaco also wants safeguards implemented in order to stabilize the market and protect jobs.
The Ivaco Rolling Mills plant in L’Orignal has the capacity to produce 625,000 tons of steel billets and 900,000 tons of wire rod annually.