Many people in Saskatchewan are still waiting to find out how recent import tariffs between the U.S. and Canada will affect them.
Steelworkers were relieved on Tuesday when Ottawa announced plans to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion but it was short lived.
On Thursday U.S. President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum products.
“We’ve got orders that are supposed to go to the states,” Mike Day, president of the United Steelworkers Local 5890, said. “Not too sure how it’s going to affect jobs here in Regina.”
He said workers were expecting steel and aluminum to remain exempt from the trade action based on what they were hearing from Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Day calls it frustrating Trump is always changing his mind, sometimes without any warning.
Chris Dekker, president and CEO of Saskatchewan’s Trade and Export Partnership, said the steel and aluminum industry represented about $90 million in exports to the United States last year.
Dekker said it’s not exactly clear how the tariffs will be applied to Canadian goods.
“The jury’s just not out on how it will apply and how it will affect, but any time you get two countries engaging in tariffs and counter-tariffs, it’s not good for either economy or for the consumers on either side of the border,” Dekker said.
The Trudeau government announced it’s own trade action against the U.S. at noon Thursday.
“Consumers on both sides of the border are affected as prices go up for all goods that are impacted by the tariffs and the economies are damaged,” Dekker said. “There’s no winners in these kind of tariffs and counter-tariffs.”
Provincial government disappointed
Premier Scott Moe said he was disappointed in the United States’ decision to impose tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.
“This is troubling. There’s no doubt this is troubling. We have a 1,000 direct jobs just north of Regina, directly involved in this industry,” he said.
Moe spoke to reporters before the federal government’s retaliatory response.
At that time he was asked whether he supported Canada taking countermeasures.
“Not today,” he told reporters, adding that he wanted to have more talks with the prime minister.
Hours later Moe responded to the measures on Twitter.
US imposing 25% tariff on Cdn steel at midnight. In #yqr, 1100 jobs depend on high quality, sustainable steel prod.
While we are carefully reviewing countermeasures from fed govt, we support retaliation to defend against these unjustifiable tariffs that violate trade agreements. https://t.co/yAH2IXpaSO
— Scott Moe (@PremierScottMoe) May 31, 2018
Moe will be in Washington, D.C. for the first time next week where he plans to mainly talk steel.
He’s also scheduled to meet with five senators, five congressman and three senior members of the Trump administration.
—With files from Britton Gray, Jessika Guse and Kevin Martel