Feds commit $50M for modernization effort at ArcelorMittal Dofasco

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains announced the $49.9 million commitment as part of an overall effort from the federal government to support Canadian steel and aluminum producers who are still dealing with U.S. tariffs.

Steelmaker said investment will help cut greenhouse gas emissions by 100K tonnes

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains announced up to $50 million in government support for modernization efforts at ArcelorMittal Dofasco during a visit in Hamilton Thursday. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

The Canadian government is chipping in as much as $50 million for a $205 million plan from ArcelorMittal Canada Inc. aimed at modernizing the Hamilton steelmaker.

Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, was in Hamilton Friday to announce the $49.9 million commitment as part of an overall effort from the federal government to support Canadian steel and aluminum producers who are still dealing with U.S. tariffs.

"This investment is about the people in Hamilton, this investment is about good-quality jobs."

The funds through the Strategic Innovation fund will kickstart seven projects at Dofasco's facilities in Hamilton and Montreal, with a focus on modernizing the production process, adding new equipment and increasing the skillsets of employees.

Two key outcomes from the investment will be more efficient fuel use and updates that will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 100,000 tonnes, according to President and CEO Sean Donnelly.

"It's been a challenging time economically recently so these investments really help us drive our agenda forward."

ArcelorMittal Dofasco President and CEO Sean Donnelly says the funding will be used for seven projects in Hamilton and Montreal. (Dan Taekema/CBC News)

Despite the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), a 25 per cent tariff on steel and 10 per cent tariff on aluminum remain in place.

But Bains promised the government will fight "tooth and nail" to have the "unjust, unfair and completely ridiculous" taxes lifted.

The minister added he's been in contact with David MacNaughton, Canada's ambassador to the United States and Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland about the status of talks to have the tariffs lifted.

"We're working with our American counterparts to make the case that this is not only impacting Canada, but also the U.S. as well, it's increasing costs and undermining competitiveness."

Maintaining thousands of jobs

Along with recently announced safeguards to curb steel dumping, the investment in Dofasco is meant to help the country's steelmakers stay on the edge of innovation in the industry, Bains said.

The projects will secure thousands of jobs in Hamilton and lead to growth that could mean more jobs in the future, he added.

Bains and Donnelly posed with Dofasco employees after the $50-million announcement. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Donnelly said the surest way to secure the future of Canadian steel is to lift the tariffs.

When asked if he believes the government failed by not ensuring steel was part of the USMCA agreement — a position held by the union representing steelworkers — Donnelly declined to comment, except to say it's "irrelevant" whether the tariffs were lifted in that negotiation or during a future discussion.

"We'll let the governments decide this and hammer it out," he said. "We need to get back to fair and free trade with the U.S."