Softwood Duties Could Endanger 25,000 Canadian Jobs

Unifor National President Jerry Dias Addressing Rally at Thunder Bay City Hall
Unifor National President Jerry Dias
Unifor National President Jerry Dias Addressing Rally at Thunder Bay City Hall
Unifor National President Jerry Dias

Toronto—The re-introduction of duties on Canadian softwood exports will endanger upwards of 25,000 good jobs in nearly every region of the country, according to Unifor.

“Workers on both sides of the border will be the losers of a trade war,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Tariffs on our lumber have already been squashed. The Americans should have learned their lesson the first time.”

The decision to impose countervailing duties on Canada’s softwood lumber of roughly 20 per cent, expected today but confirmed yesterday, along with a second round of duties expected in June, will have devastating consequences for Canada’s forestry industry. Unifor estimates that, if the re-introduced tariffs are left un-checked, softwood exports to the U.S. will be cut in half. Conservative estimates suggest a 25 per cent combined duty could yield a loss of 25,000 jobs.

In 2002 the U.S. government imposed similar tariffs, but international trade tribunals have consistently over-ruled American duties on Canadian lumber. While Unifor is confident that the new U.S. duties are illegal, it can take years for appeals to be resolved.

To curb irreversible damage to Canada’s third largest export industry, Unifor says that the federal government must now move swiftly to implement loan guarantees for Canadian mills and federal assistance for affected communities.

“For now, the top priority has to be protecting good Canadian jobs and to cushion the blow to our communities,” said Scott Doherty, Executive Assistant to the Unifor National President.

The U.S. has also signalled that anti-dumping duties on Canadian softwood exports could be added in June 2017 to compound today’s countervailing duties.

Unifor has nearly 24,000 forestry members at 134 employers in every region of Canada. It is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged. ​

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