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Steel forms a strong foundation for a healthy manufacturing sector


May 31, 2010
By Mary Del


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The Canadian Steel Producers Association is starting an organized push to get the benefits of steel – and its manufacturing sector – in front of both the public and industry. The first step of the campaign, which takes the form of a commissioned study, emphasizes how a healthy steel sector will inevitably lead to a healthy manufacturing sector.

The study of Canada’s steel sector presents important new insights into the impact of the industry in Canada, and offers a fresh look at its future prospects in light of many recent changes in the global and Canadian steel industries. The Canadian Steel Producers Association (CSPA) commissioned the study by Dr Peter Warrian of the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto.

CSPA President Ron Watkins says this analysis is very timely. "It improves public understanding of the new steel industry in Canada", he noted. "And we trust it will assist policymakers in all levels of government to understand the important role of the industry and its critical relationships with its customers and suppliers."

A major emphasis of the study is the steel industry’s impact as a foundation for major advanced manufacturing clusters in Canada, such as autos, energy, and construction. The recent global and domestic transformation of the industry is another key theme, and the study examines at some length the implications for current operations and future investment.

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The study outlines the development of the industry in Canada, and then turns to its importance as a vital industry for meeting the demands of the future economy. It describes the growth potential that will come from recovery in existing, and from new and innovative uses of steel in areas such as renewable energy sources, more fuel-efficient transportation, and construction applications.

The research describes an industry that is more innovative, highly-skilled, and environmentally efficient. "From an employment, value-added, knowledge intensive and environmental perspective, this is an industry Canadians should want in their future," Dr. Warrian states.

The study examines the impacts of the recent multi-billion dollar investments by global steel companies, bringing access to new sources of capital, technology, and expertise. For the industry to realize its full potential in Canada, the study concludes, it will require continuous investment in future. Supportive and balanced public policies are necessary in many areas that directly affect not only the steel industry, but the entire manufacturing industry in Canada. Watkins added that "CSPA looks forward to discussing the policy implications with governments and other stakeholders."

The report was commissioned by CSPA with funding support from the Canadian Steel Trade and Employment Congress and the United Steelworkers. A summary of key findings is attached. The full study and a summary of it can be accessed at www.canadiansteel.ca