Com­pen­sa­tion is on its way

Fort McMur­ray home­own­ers to get help with high dry­wall du­ties

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - TERRY PED­WELL AND DAN HEAL­ING

Canada will slash anti-dump­ing du­ties on U.S. dry­wall im­ports af­ter a trade panel ruled that main­tain­ing levies im­posed last fall would harm con­sumers and busi­nesses, fed­eral Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bill Morneau an­nounced Mon­day.

At the same time, some of the roughly $12 mil­lion col­lected since the du­ties were im­posed in Septem­ber will go to­ward a com­pen­sa­tion pack­age for res­i­dents of Fort McMur­ray forced to re­build their homes af­ter wild­fires tore through the com­mu­nity, Morneau said af­ter he vis­ited a res­i­den­tial neigh­bour­hood in the north­ern Al­berta city.

“We’re pleased to be able to help peo­ple out,” said Morneau. “We know that they’re ob­vi­ously fac­ing real chal­lenges still.”

The min­is­ter said the pro­gram will de­liver about $300 to an av­er­age Fort McMur­ray fam­ily whose home re­place­ment project was af­fected by higher dry­wall prices be­cause of the tar­iffs. He said the money is ex­pected to be avail­able be­fore the end of the year.

Some of the funds will also go to builders and con­trac­tors in Western Canada who had to ab­sorb un­ex­pected higher costs to com­plete fixed price jobs they had al­ready been con­tracted to do, Morneau said.

The du­ties im­posed last fall were in re­sponse to a dump­ing com­plaint by French-owned Cer­tainTeed Gyp­sum Canada, the last dry­wall (or gyp­sum board) man­u­fac­turer in Western Canada with plants in Van­cou­ver, Cal­gary and Win­nipeg, and at two gyp­sum quar­ries in B.C. and Man­i­toba.

The Cana­dian In­ter­na­tional Trade Tri­bunal (CITT) ruled last month that, while Amer­i­can firms had dumped dry­wall in Canada at dis­counted prices over the past few years, main­tain­ing du­ties would not be in the coun­try’s trade in­ter­ests.

The tri­bunal rec­om­mended end­ing pre­lim­i­nary du­ties of up to 276 per cent im­posed by the Canada Bor­der Ser­vices Agency, and in­stead charg­ing per­ma­nent vari­able du­ties on any im­ports that fall below a set floor price.

The gov­ern­ment on Mon­day said it would lower min­i­mum im­port prices by just over 32 per cent, an ap­proach that is ex­pected to re­sult in the same level of duty re­duc­tion as rec­om­mended by the CITT.

“The ap­proach we did, by cre­at­ing a min­i­mum im­ported price, quickly deals with the is­sue so that peo­ple can move on with the home-build­ing de­ci­sion in the case of home builders or with the buy­ing de­ci­sion and have a good sense of what the cost im­pli­ca­tions are,” said Morneau.

He said the CITT’s rec­om­men­da­tion to sus­pend tar­iffs for six months was re­jected in favour of more quickly es­tab­lish­ing price cer­tainty.

Ben White, Cer­tainTeed’s re­gional man­u­fac­tur­ing man­ager for Western Canada, said he’s pleased that the re­build­ing of Fort McMur­ray is be­ing sup­ported and builders faced with los­ing money on dry­wall con­tracts will be com­pen­sated.

But he said the com­pany will have to study Mon­day’s rul­ing be­fore de­cid­ing whether it will af­fect the 20 to 30 new jobs it has cre­ated since last fall to ramp up pro­duc­tion at its western Cana­dian plants af­ter the du­ties made im­ported ri­val prod­ucts more ex­pen­sive.

“That’s what it’s al­ways been about for us is those man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs, good jobs in Western Canada, and free and fair trade,” White said Mon­day.

He said Cer­tainTeed em­ploys be­tween 230 and 250 em­ploy­ees in Western Canada. It had warned pre­vi­ously the dump­ing of U.S. prod­ucts for as lit­tle as half of the price south of the bor­der put all of those jobs in dan­ger.

AM­BER BRACKEN, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bill Morneau an­nounces changes to dry­wall anti-dump­ing du­ties in Fort McMur­ray on Mon­day.

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