The closure of the Brunswick Smelter announced today is a tragedy. For those of you who say good riddance, don’t kid yourself. The smelting will be done elsewhere – possibly in jurisdictions with less environmental standards than New Brunswick. All we have done is removed $90+ million worth of labour income from northeastern New Brunswick, upwards of 1,200 jobs with direct, indirect and induced effects included and one of the top exporters for northern New Brunswick. In the past 10 years, the smelter exported $1.7 billion worth of product around the world.
NB Power loses one of its largest customers ultimately meaning higher rates for other customers.
The Port of Belledune loses one of its top customers.
Hundreds of small businesses in the supply chain and those benefiting from the spending of the $90+ million in labour income will be hurt – many will go under.
In my opinion that smelter was more important to the regional economy up there than the automobile industry in southern Ontario.
When I was in government we were trying to get a long term investment that would have saved the smelter for a generation and made its operations more environmentally friendly and energy efficient.
The largest employer up there now? The hospitals.
I hope the unions didn’t trigger this. The average age in the plant was pushing 50 years. A lot of guys will go home with a severance and pension. The young guys/gals and the next generation not so lucky.