Quebec to provide $100 million in loans to steel and aluminum companies affected by U.S. tariffs

Smaller Quebec companies involved in the transformation of steel and aluminum have already had some contracts cancelled, or had to slow down production, as a result of increased tariffs on exports to U.S., Minister Dominique Anglade said.

Smaller Quebec companies already losing contracts, or slowing down production, minister says

Quebec is offering $100 million in loans and loan guarantees to the smallest companies in the province's steel and aluminum industries. Quebec Economy, Science and Innovation Minister Dominique Anglade made the announcement late Monday after a meeting in Montreal with industry players as well as union representatives, employers and municipalities. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

The Quebec government is setting aside $100 million in guaranteed loans to smaller steel and aluminum companies hurt by increased tariffs on exports bound for the United States.

Smaller companies have already begun to feel the impact of the tariffs, said Dominique Anglade, Quebec's economy minister, after a meeting with companies, workers' unions and municipal officials Monday afternoon in Montreal.

Quebec companies involved in the transformation of steel and aluminum have reported losing contracts with U.S. clients, while others said they have been forced to slow down production, Anglade said.

"The clients are not willing to pay the tariff increase … so we know already that there is an impact," she told reporters.

The minister said the $100 million is a first step, and the government will hold another meeting next week with stakeholders to reassess the situation.

30,000 workers in Quebec

The U.S. imposed import duties on Canadian steel and aluminum in late May.

U.S. President Donald Trump had exempted Canada, Mexico and the European Union when he imposed 25 per cent import duties on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum in early March, but those exemptions ended last month.

That prompted Ottawa to announce its own increased tariffs on steel, aluminum and other imports from the U.S., which is expected to take effect July 1.

Quebec's steel and aluminum industries currently employ about 30,000 workers, and the Quebec government wants to protect them from any layoffs, Anglade said.

"What's going to be really important is to stay agile and be connected to what the companies are telling us," she said.

"We want to protect the interests of the workers, as well."

From 2016 to 2017, Quebec's aluminum exports increased by 27 per cent to $6.1 billion, according to the Institut de la statistique du Québec.

After the meeting with the minister, Alain Croteau, the Quebec director of the United Steelworkers Union, welcomed the steps the government has taken so far.

However, Croteau said the situation remains "worrying."

The industry is banding together to push the government to take concrete steps to help stave off job losses, he said.

"We need to work together in Canada to move things in the U.S. We have to show them that we're an integral part of their economy; we're allies," Croteau said.

With files from La Presse Canadienne