Prime Minister Trudeau announces investment in Rio Tinto Alcan in Chicoutimi
Hello everyone, thank you for being here with us today. It’s a pleasure to be back in Saguenay to celebrate such good news for Quebec and for Canada. I first want to thank Alf Barrios, Chief Executive of Rio Tinto; Roy Harvey, Chief Executive of Alcoa; and Sarah Chandler, Director of Environmental Initiatives for Apple.
I know that a lot of the people here had to make a longer trip to be with us this morning and we’re grateful to them. And finally, allow me to acknowledge Premier Couillard. Barely two months ago, last March, Philippe and I were in Alma talking with the workers at Rio Tinto. During our discussions, I told them we had their interests at heart and that they could count on the government, on our goverments to put their interests first. We are determined not only to protect the jobs of the workers of today, but also to ensure the viability of the aluminium industry for years to come.
To prepare Canadians for the jobs of tomorrow, we have made unprecedented investments in the development of skills. We have also made changes to employment insurance. Today, workers can go back to school to acquire new skills while holding onto their benefit cheques. These measures are part of our plan to create the right conditions for investment, innovation and job creation. And our efforts are already paying off.
Unemployment is at its lowest in nearly 40 years with close to 600,000 more Canadians working today than there were just two years ago. Not to mention, the Canadian economy was growing at the fastest rate of all G7 countries last year in 2017. And companies around the world are taking notice. After all, the key to any successful company is having the right workers with the right skills. With its highly educated workforce, Canada is quickly becoming a top destination for companies to grow, innovate, and shape the future. And today’s announcement is just the latest proof of that.
Today, the Government of Canada salutes the joint decision by Rio Tinto and Alcoa to design the world’s first carbon-free aluminum smelting process. To support the project, the Government of Canada will provide a repayable contribution of $60 million, and the Goverment of Quebec will match it. In all, the Elysis project will help to create 1,000 jobs as well as securing 10,500 more for Canadians. The result of several years of research, this is the most significant innovation in the aluminium industry in over 100 years.
The adoption of this technology in the future will also represent a decisive step in the fight against climate change because it will eliminate the aluminum industry’s carbon footprint. But the transformative potential of this advance is not limited to the production of aluminium. Once it is on the market, the aluminium can be used to manufacture vehicles or consumer products, and that is why Apple has decided to take part in the venture by investing an additional $13 million.
In this way, the Elysis project helps us to reach the Paris Agreement targets and meet our environmental protection commitments.
My dear friends, the expertise of Quebecers in the aluminium industry is unequalled, and there is no doubt about their future potential. Today’s announcement is proof of that.
The decision of industry giants like Rio Tinto and Alcoa to invest here is a vote of confidence in Canadians and Canada, and so it is with pride and enthusiasm that we welcome this major decision. Once again, thanks very much for joining us today.