Ontario boating industry to feel the sting of retaliatory Canadian tariffs on U.S. watercraft
Boat prices expected to jump 15 per cent after tariffs take effect July 1
Legend Boats in Whitefish, near Sudbury, Ont., is celebrating fifty years of business but instead of enjoying the milestone, general manager Marc Duhamel is stressed.
The boating industry in Sudbury and across the province is about to feel pain from retaliatory tariffs on watercraft by the Canadian government, in response to steel and aluminum tariffs levied by the United States.
Duhamel says the 10 per cent duty, which is set to take effect July 1, comes during the middle of boating season and their busiest time of year.
"The worry is all the product that's coming in after July 1. If the tariff goes on them, we've already taken orders at current pricing," Duhamel said.
At Legend Boats, all of the inventory comes from the U.S. and is ordered months in advance.
"So what do we do? We cannot increase the price for the consumer and keep a consumer happy. How do we increase prices on a boat that's been pre-ordered maybe months ago?"
'They are absolutely going to get slaughtered by this'
Boating Ontario CEO Rick Layzell, who has known Duhamel for 30 years, says businesses like Legend Boats will be hit hardest.
"Their entire business model is built around aluminum fishing and pontoon boats. They are absolutely going to get slaughtered by this," he said.
Under the tariffs, Layzell says boat prices could jump from an average of $50,000 to as high as $65,0000, affecting both the consumer and the industry as a whole.
He says Boating Ontario, which represents 30,000 direct and indirect jobs across the province, is projecting a 20 per cent job reduction in 2019.
"We will see job losses virtually overnight as we go into the 2019 season and we're predicting five to six thousand jobs will be gone."
Those losses could be felt at Legend Boats, which currently has 75 employees and has recently expanded its business.
"We've just built a facility to grow our business, and we're just starting to grow and get enough employees that we can fill the facility and continue to grow," Duhamel said.
"This is just going to slow and stop everything in our industry right now."
With files from Kate Rutherford.