Canada's "Steeltown" is in an economic meltdown, with the former Stelco mill being closed. The impact is reverberating throughout the nation.
Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel Corp. said it is closing its Hamilton, Ontario, plant and its steelmaking operations at Lake Erie Works in Nanticoke.
That will put 1,500 people out of work. In November, Hamilton's blast furnace was closed, affecting an additional 700 workers.
The recession is blamed as the company moves the Canadian work to three U.S. plants.
It will affect iron ore producers in Quebec and Labrador, and coal companies in Western Canada.
Earlier, there were 900 layoffs at Hamilton's other steelmaker, Arcelor Mittal Dofasco, while the former Algoma Steel, Ipsco and distributor Russel Metals have cut jobs and streamlined operations across Canada.
U.S. Steel was reported to have agreed to "maintain employment levels" in exchange for the Canadian government's approval of its $1.9 billion (U.S.) takeover of Stelco in 2007.
In other job losses, Chrysler is eliminating a shift at its minivan assembly plant in Windsor, Ontario, laying off 1,200 workers.
Bank official urges calm on economy
Pierre Duguay, deputy governor of Bank of Canada, said Canadians shouldn't let "irrational fear" about the economy overstate the global crisis.
With a string of alarming economic news still to come, Duguay said it's important to get the federal stimulus moving "so people can see recovery is coming and not have to worry about the future."
The Canadian government has proposed spending $31.2 billion (U.S.) over two years to stimulate the economy starting in April.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he is anticipating that the Senate will quickly deal with the legislation to get things moving.
News in brief
• An improvised explosive device killed three more Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. Cpl. Dany Fortin, Warrant Officer Dennis Brown and Cpl. Kenneth O'Quinn were killed Tuesday when their armored vehicle struck the device on a road near Kandahar. At least 111 Canadian soldiers have been killed during the mission.
• The 15-year-old Super 7 lottery will be ended in September and replaced with a new game. The replacement will meet consumer suggestions for bigger jackpots and more millionaires, lottery spokesman Rui Brum said.
• John Tory said he will resign as leader of the Ontario Conservative Party once an interim leader is selected. His decision follows his loss in a by-election in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock to Liberal Rick Johnson for a seat in the legislature. Tory ran in the rural area after being defeated in Toronto last year.
Facts and figures
The Bank of Canada trimmed its key interest rate to 0.5 percent, a drop from 1 percent, while commercial banks lowered their prime lending rates to 2.5 percent. Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of Canada, said he now sees recovery possibly early next year instead of the third quarter of this year. In the October-December quarter, the economy shrank by 3.4 percent, Statistics Canada said.
Canada's dollar is lower at 77.61 U.S. cents, while the U.S. greenback returns $1.2885 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.
Stock markets were lower, with Toronto's composite index at 7,528 points and the TSX Venture index at 829 points.
Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 7, 15, 23, 25, 27 and 40; bonus 43. (Feb. 28) 2, 8, 26, 46, 48 and 49; bonus 34. Super 7: (Feb. 27) 4, 19, 24, 25, 27, 33 and 34; bonus 32.
• Maclean's magazine ranks Saskatoon as the most dangerous city in Canada, while Caledon, northwest of Toronto, is the safest. Next in danger are Winnipeg, Regina, Prince George and Edmonton, while safest after Caledon are Oromocto, New Brunswick, Levis and Maskoutains/Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, and Halton Region, west of Toronto. Toronto was 29th out of 100 cities for danger, and Montreal was 24th.
• Alberta is going ahead with an increase of 5 percent in its minimum wage next month to $6.87 ($8.80 Canadian) an hour. In Ontario, there has been some retail industry pressure on the Ontario government not to increase the minimum wage to $7.41($9.50 Canadian) an hour at the end of the month.
• Police couldn't believe their radar gun when it clocked a driver at 150 mph on an expressway in north-end Toronto. The driver of the high-performance Infiniti had the car impounded for a week and faces a fine of several thousand dollars and loss of his license for two years. "I've never heard of a speed this high," Constable Scott Mulville said.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com.