The president of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 5890 says Evraz Regina could lose up to 500 jobs while out-of-province projects are importing steel for a pipeline from outside of Canada.
It announced on Friday that TC Energy, a pipeline company based in Calgary, had decided to import steel from outside of Canada for its 2021 NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. (NGTL) expansion project.
Mike Day is the president of USW Local 5890, which is the union associated with Evraz in Regina.
He said Evraz — the largest steel company in western Canada — spoke with TC Energy last Tuesday and they were informed the job had been given to an out-of-Canada company while jobs are being lost in Saskatchewan.
“Right now, they’re only predicting that we’re going to only have roughly about 15 people working in [Evraz] come January,” Day said. “That’s their prediction just because of the sheer fact that there’s no large diameter orders.”
Day said Evraz started off the year with 1050 workers and due to COVID-19 they are down to 831 active members as of right now.
“We’ve had some layoffs since May and clearly we’re expecting more come November, December.” Day said.
The NGTL expansion project would add 344 kilometers of 48-inch diameter pipeline to the northern part of Alberta. The proposed pipeline would generally follow existing pipeline corridors, and includes multiple sections starting in Grand Prairie, extend near Edson and end in Clearwater County.
Day said there are not a lot of infrastructure projects in the country going into the ground right now, but if there are, they should be built with Canadian products by Canadian workers.
“Plain and simple, we’re going through a tough time right now and the economy is struggling and to have roughly 800 directly impacted jobs to this is a shame.” Day said.
He said the company is currently seeking smaller projects but they’re not aware of anything of the magnitude of the NGTL pipeline expansion project.
“It wouldn’t keep 500 individuals working.” Day said. “People are worried, and how long is this going to go? Our order book isn’t very good right now.”
NDP says Moe should speak up
Opposition leader Ryan Meili said Premier Scott Moe should be having more conversations with other ministers to support local steel in out-of-province projects.
“We’ve heard nothing from Scott Moe about this,” Meili said. “In fact yesterday, his minister of finance said their estimation for the number of jobs lost in the next year has gone from 16,000 to 25,000, and yet they are comfortable with that.”
“If I were Premier I’d be on the phone right now to Jason Kenney, to Justin Trudeau, to the leadership of TC Energy insisting that they get their steel, that they get their pipe, from right here at Evraz,” Meili said.
Day said there are also issues with steel trade with the United States that the provincial government should be addressing with the prime minister.
“We can’t compete with the pricing on tariffs and duties,” Day said. “The provincial government needs to put more pressure on the federal government to get better trade deals.
“Our concern is one thing only, our Canadian workers and that’s our job to get these guys working.”