The federal government is being asked to intervene after punitive anti-dumping duties were placed on paper products produced at Catalyst Paper mills in B.C., including the Crofton mill.
The U.S. Department of Commerce announced this week a new 22 per cent anti-dumping duty on products produced by Catalyst mills in B.C., which also include mills in Port Alberni and Powell River.
In total, Catalyst’s mills in B.C. employ approximately 1,500 workers, including about 570 at the Crofton mill.
Unifor, which represents many of these workers, fears the anti-dumping duties could lead to hundreds of job losses at the mills and wants the federal government to take immediate action to end the tariffs.
Unifor president Jerry Dias said U.S. President Donald Trump is introducing “chaos” into trade relations with Canada, with his latest attack on Canadian workers putting five pulp and paper mills across the nation in jeopardy of closure.
“Unfair tariffs aren’t just political theatre, they’re reckless policies that will close down mills and throw hundreds of Canadians out of work,” Dias said.
“This is completely unacceptable and Ottawa needs to push back hard against these heavy-handed tactics.”
Dias said the tariffs have one goal in mind, to weaken Canadian paper manufactures for the benefit of U.S. producers, some of whom are close personal friends of the president.
“Unifor has responded with a high profile campaign to fight back against Trump the bully,” he said.
“We’re asking people to write to the federal Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr to tell him that Canada has to hit back hard to protect our jobs.”
Unifor has also released a video on the issue, which can be viewed by clicking here.
The Public and Private Workers of Canada, Local 2, also represents workers at the Crofton mill, but union representatives couldn’t be reached for comment by press time.
Jon Lefebure, mayor the Municipality of North Cowichan where the Crofton mill is located, said increasing costs at the Crofton mill could drastically hamper its profitability, leading to layoffs and even its complete closure.
“I think the mill can withstand these increased costs for awhile, but the fear is that if these punitive tariffs continue, the mill will be priced out of business,” Lefebure said.
“That’s a major concern because the Crofton mill is the biggest employer in the region outside of outside of School District 79.”
Lefebure said the Crofton mill is such a big operation, running it full time, even if it is taking financial losses, might be cheaper than shutting it down until its products are more financially viable in the marketplace.
“It’s certainly a difficult economic situation for our mill,” he said.
“It’s not a fair tariff and is not justified. It’s really just a bully tactic. Catalyst has fought similar battles with unfair tariffs in the past, and we hope the company is successful again.”