OTTAWA - Families forced to rebuild their homes after wildfires devastated Fort McMurray, Alta. last spring will be compensated for having to pay duties on drywall coming into Canada from the United States, Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced Feb. 27.
A source familiar with the plan told the Canadian Press it's part of the government's response to a trade panel ruling that called on Ottawa to cut duties imposed on drywall products being imported into Western Canada from the U.S.
The Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) ruled in January that while U.S. firms had dumped drywall at cut-rate prices in Canada over the past few years, maintaining duties at current levels would not be in the country's trade interests.
Canadian construction firms have complained the tariffs on U.S. drywall make it more expensive to build homes out of the material, also known as gypsum board, and were hampering efforts in Fort McMurray to recover from last year's wildfire.
Fort McMurray Mayor Melissa Blake had asked the federal government to offer grants to offset the impact of the drywall duties, noting that low oil prices have hurt the city's economy and resulted in numerous layoffs.
The community lost 1,800 single-family homes and dozens of other structures in the wildfire.
The duties, imposed last September, followed a dumping complaint by French-owned CertainTeed Gypsum Canada, the last drywall manufacturer in Western Canada with plants in Vancouver, Calgary and Winnipeg, and at two gypsum quarries, one in B.C. and one in Manitoba.