The federal government is welcoming the U.S. decision to drop tariffs on Canadian aluminum imports — but warns it’s prepared to impose retaliatory measures if necessary.
Responding to the announcement by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office that the 10 per cent levy on Canadian aluminum products would be repealed, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the move signals that common sense has prevailed.
“The last thing that Canadians and Americans need now in the middle of this pandemic is a trade war,” she told a news conference in Ottawa today.
The USTR announcement came just hours before Canada was set to unveil retaliatory measures.
A statement from the USTR said that after consultations with the Canadian government, the U.S. has determined that trade is expected to “normalize” in the last four months of the year, declining after “surges” experienced earlier in the year.
“Accordingly, the United States will modify the terms of the 10 per cent tariff imposed in August on imports of Canadian non-alloyed unwrought aluminum,” the statement reads.
The USTR’s statement lays out shipment volumes for each of those four months, which will be monitored to ensure they aren’t exceeded. If they do, the U.S. expects that imports would decline by a corresponding amount the following month.
Tariffs could be reimposed: USTR
The tariffs could be re-imposed if shipment volumes exceed 105 per cent of the stated volumes, the USTR said.
“The United States will consult with the Canadian government at the end of the year to review the state of the aluminum trade in light of trade patterns during the four-month period and expected market conditions in 2021,” the statement reads.
Freeland stressed that today’s development was not a negotiated agreement with the U.S. and said that the American administration acted “unilaterally.” Canada does not accept the imposition of quotas, she said.
Freeland said Canada is suspending retaliatory action — for now.
“Should tariffs be reimposed, Canada will retaliate with perfectly reciprocal dollar-for-dollar tariffs,” she said.
Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng said Canada did not concede anything in exchange for the USTR’s decision. She credited a collaborative approach with the federal and provincial governments and industry representatives for the positive development today.
“It is a testament to the Team Canada approach, as we all worked relentlessly to ensure these unjustified tariffs on Canadian aluminum were removed,” she said.
The USTR announcement comes after a period of intense trade brinkmanship between the two trading partners. Earlier today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would unveil retaliatory measures to counter “unjust” American aluminum tariffs this afternoon.
In a statement before the second day of a cabinet retreat in Ottawa, Trudeau said the government would act to protect Canada’s aluminum industry.
“I want to highlight that we will be taking action to counter the unjust tariffs put on Canadian aluminum by the United States,” he said.
“As I’ve said many times, we will always be there to defend Canadian workers. We will defend our aluminum sector.”
$3.6B in counter-duties planned
The government had said during the summer that unless the U.S. dropped its latest round of aluminum tariffs, Canada would impose $3.6 billion in counter-measures.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the tariffs and counter-tariffs would hurt workers on both sides of the border because the aluminum sector is so interconnected. He said the government should have done more to convince the Americans not to impose the duties in the first place.
“I think we knew that the president of the United States has done something like this in the past. We should have put in place steps ahead of time and been proactive to prevent this from happening,” he said.
“Now that we’re in it, the retaliatory measures are something I support, but I want to make sure that the money that’s gained in the retaliatory measures actually goes towards supporting the industry, supporting workers specifically.”
U. S. Chamber of Commerce executive vice-president Myron Brilliant issued a statement welcoming the news that the U.S. will drop what the organization called “damaging” tariffs.
“What American manufacturers need now is certainty that these tariffs won’t make another reappearance. Setting aside these threats once and for all will allow American job creators to focus on economic recovery,” the statement reads.
Trump announced that he would impose the tariffs during a campaign speech at a Whirlpool factory in Ohio, citing national security concerns.
At the time, Freeland responded quickly by stating that Canada “intends to swiftly impose dollar-for-dollar countermeasures” in response.
“Canadian aluminum does not undermine U.S. national security. Canadian aluminum strengthens U.S. national security, and has done so for decades through unparalleled co-operation between our two countries,” she said in August.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford also publicly lashed out at Trump’s “unacceptable” decision, saying it could compromise the historically strong trade relationship between the two countries.
He urged Ontario residents to “hit ’em where it hurts,” noting that the province’s consumer base is an economic powerhouse.
Doug Ford calls on Health Canada to focus on reviewing rapid COVID-19 antigen tests – Global News
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has called on Health Canada to focus on reviewing rapid COVID-19 antigen tests in the hope that one will be approved and used to alleviate the surging testing demand in the province.
“That should be their number one priority,” Ford said.
“I know Health Canada is doing a great job. They’re extremely, extremely busy but this should be the number one priority.”
Ford made the remarks during a rare Saturday press conference in which he announced that new gathering restrictions would be expanded to the entire province amid a spike in coronavirus cases.
Antigen tests aren’t as accurate as the tests currently used in Ontario, which require processing in a lab, but could deliver results in minutes.
“Is it one hundred per cent? No, but it sure is a lot better than having hours of lineups outside the testing centres. It’s absolutely critical. Health Canada please focus on this,” Ford said.
There have been hours-long waits at some of the province’s 148 assessment centres in recent days.
Ford has already said he will be releasing a plan to open up COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic individuals at pharmacies in a bid to help with the recent spike in demand.
Health Minister Christine Elliott also said Saturday that eight assessment centres across Toronto, Peel Region, and Ottawa have increased capacity. Elliott said additionally, seven pop-up testing sites have launched in the regions and more are coming.
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, said she understands that Health Canada is currently reviewing six antigen tests and added that they’re “a lot easier” than the current testing kits but can be less accurate.
Meanwhile, NDP Deputy Leader Sara Singh said in a statement Saturday that the “Ford government was not prepared for this spike in cases, and they should have been.”
Singh cited the long lineups at testing centres as an example.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program – CBC.ca
Migrant workers and advocates called for a “just recovery” from the COVID-19 pandemic during a digital rally on Saturday based out of Vancouver.
The pandemic has shown how heavily Canada relies on migrant and undocumented workers to perform essential jobs, said Chit Arma, who chairs the Migrant Workers Centre’s board of directors in Vancouver.
“The pandemic has also exposed the extent to which these essential workers do not enjoy essential rights, and the long-standing systemic problems with the temporary foreign work program that puts workers in an extremely precarious position,” she said during the video conference.
The rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre.
The campaign calls on the federal government to create a new permanent residency program for all essential migrant and undocumented workers, and to allow the workers to apply for an open-work permit while waiting for their applications to process.
No one at the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada could immediately be reached for comment.
On July 31, the federal government announced $58.6 million in funding that it said would boost protections for temporary foreign workers and address COVID-19 outbreaks on farms.
Of that, $35 million was earmarked to improve health and safety on farms and in employee living quarters to prevent the spread of COVID-19. About $7.4 million would support the workers, including $6 million for direct outreach delivered through migrant support organizations, the government said.
‘Recognizes precarious status’
The government also said it was working to develop mandatory requirements to improve living conditions in employer-provided accommodations.
In August, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced a temporary measure to provide a pathway to permanent residency for asylum claimants working in health-care during the pandemic.
Under the measure, the front-line workers would be able to apply for permanent residency if they met certain criteria, including having made an asylum claim before March 13 and having been issued a work permit after their claim.
“This approach recognizes those with precarious immigration status who are filling an urgent need and putting their own lives at risk to care for others in Canada,” the government said in a news release.
Natalie Drolet, executive director of the Migrant Workers Centre, said the measure excludes other front-line workers like grocery store clerks, truckers and care workers.
“While this is a positive step, it leaves too many migrant workers and undocumented workers behind who have also been on the front lines in the pandemic,” Drolet said.
Migrants and undocumented workers play key roles as health-care workers, grocery store clerks, cleaners, care workers, truckers and agricultural workers, Arma said.
More than 1,300 migrant workers in Ontario alone have been infected with COVID-19, she said. Three have died, including one undocumented worker, she said.
‘Fear of being removed’
Arma came to Canada in 2005 to work as a caregiver. Her temporary status in Canada gave her stress and anxiety, she said.
“I had papers, I had documents, and yet I had that fear of being removed, a fear of speaking up because I might be deported,” she said.
“I can imagine how undocumented workers are experiencing even worse because of the lack of documents they have.”
Maria Cano arrived to work as a caregiver in 2017 through the temporary foreign worker program. She said the experience showed how disempowering the experience could be, even before the pandemic struck.
Cano worked for four different families and moved to three different cities in her first few years. They expected her to work long hours without compensation, she said.
“When I spoke up, I lost my job,” she said. “That entire process was very stressful and financially draining.”
She finally found a “nice Canadian family” who treated her with respect and sponsored her but said others shouldn’t hope for the same luck — they should be protected with recognized rights instead.
“The COVID-19 pandemic makes it more difficult and stressful for all the undocumented and migrant workers in Canada,” she said.
Beginning Dec. 15, the B.C. government will require employers wishing to hire foreign workers through federal programs to register with the province.
The government said in a news release Saturday that the measures would ensure the workers are paid for the hours they work, have accurate job descriptions and ensure their rights and safety are protected on the job.
Vancouver theatre company among first in Canada to relaunch during COVID-19
It’s been about six months since anyone has taken in a show put on by Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre Company, but that’s about to change.
The venue will be among the first in the country to resume live performances, when it launches a one-actor play under strict new COVID-19 protocols on Thursday.
“It is a huge step towards normalcy, I have had people say to me, ‘All I need is to see a show, and I can’t wait to come and see something,’” said actor Ali Watson, who will play all 16 parts in No Child, which premieres Sept. 24.
In order to allow for more performances, the play has been double-cast, with Watson and actor Celia Aloma starring in alternating shows — each with their own stage managers and crews.
“I think its a really excellent distraction from COVID-19, especially because it’s not about COVID-19, which everything you see online and in person is about that,” Watson said.
The Arts Club and virtually all live performance venues were forced to close their doors in March, when the province issued an order against gatherings of more than 50 people.
The venue usually puts in 18 shows a year for about a quarter-million spectators, according to artistic director Ashlie Corcoran.
The pandemic forced them to cancel 25 scheduled shows, including performances well into 2021.
“It’s been a long, hard six months of being dark,” she said.
“To use our brains to start planning and building and creating instead of cancelling, it’s very much buoyed our spirits.”
Starting with No Child, which focuses on the efforts of a drama teacher in an inner-city New York school, the Arts Club is rolling out three one-actor plays.
Audience members will need to sign a declaration of health before entering. There will be no queueing up before the show, bathroom capacity will be limited, masks will be mandatory, and exiting the theatre will be controlled to ensure physical distancing.
The audience will also be capped at 50 people in a theatre that normally seats 300.
“Doing theatre for audiences of 50 will not economically sustain us, but we do feel it’s very important to be connecting, both with artists … and with the audience,” said Corcoran.
The Arts Club relies on ticket sales for about 80 per cent of its revenue, and Corcoran said it’s managed to survive so far through donations over the summer.
Darrel Dunlop, president of IATSE local 118, which represents workers in the live performance sector, said the pandemic has been devastating to his members.
With CERB ending, he’s worried about a “brain drain” of skilled workers into industries.
“A lot of the people, they’ve had to start looking for jobs in another sector,” he said.
But Dunlop is cautiously optimistic, citing creative ways productions have been finding to reopen safely under new pandemic protocols with smaller casts, crews and audiences.
“They’re actually going to be doing multiple shows in a day, and they’re actually going to be doing that with separate crews,” he said, meaning if someone becomes ill another crew can always sub in.
“Until there’s a time when you can actually put a full audience in, it will be different, the experience will be different. … We have to be patient and we have to be willing to accept the change.”
Source: – Global News
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