Steel producers ask for help to rebuild demand

Canadian steelmakers are in Ottawa this week asking the government to develop policies that will boost their industry through a stronger manufacturing base and fair trade practices.

TORONTO — Canadian steelmakers are in Ottawa this week asking the government to develop policies that will boost their industry through a stronger manufacturing base and fair trade practices.

The steel industry has been battered by the worldwide recession, which has cut demand for the metal used in everything from construction to the auto and appliance industries. As a result, global production of the most common type of steel shrunk by approximately 27 per cent in 2008.

U.S. Steel announced last month that it will indefinitely idle operations at its Hamilton and Lake Erie plants, putting 1,500 people out of work. The closures were the first time the company formerly known as Stelco has shut down its Ontario steel mills in nearly a century of operations.

Steel production and prices, which reached all-time highs last year, have dropped to their lowest levels in a quarter century in recent months.

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