Federal government still working on investments in Fiat Chrysler, GM
Open to working with other automakers who submit plans to increase their footprints in Canada
OTTAWA — Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains says that the federal government is in the process of finalizing funding commitments to General Motors and Fiat Chrysler, after announcing a $295 million investment in Ford earlier this year.
Union leaders at Unifor previously announced that the provincial and federal governments would lend support to the three automakers, which have each announced more than $1 billion in investments for Canadian plants as part of collective bargaining agreements.
Bains says the government is still working with GM and FCA, but was waiting to respect the ratification of the union deals, which ended on Nov. 9, before finalizing dollar amounts.
Bains says the government is open to working with other automakers who submit plans to increase their footprints in Canada, as long as they create jobs sustainably, not only in manufacturing but also suppliers and dealers.
General Motors, unlike Ford and Fiat Chrysler, did not commit to making electric vehicles as part of its union agreement, but has said separately it will hire for high-tech roles in Ontario.
Bains says the automaker investments, alongside trade deals, will help the Canadian auto sector compete with incentives offered by US national and state governments, while also meeting climate change goals.
“We’re excited about working with companies — any automaker that wants to increase their footprint in Canada,” Bains said in an interview.
“The focus is on jobs, is on new mandates and new products, as well as the electrification that’s taking place…Our criteria is, if you can produce more vehicles here, or produce more products here, create more jobs here and do it in a sustainable way, then we’re willing to partner up through different policies and programs that we’ve put in place.”
As of this summer, about 56,000 Canadians purchased a zero-emission vehicle through the government’s rebate program, but Bains says he is confident that millions will be on the road by the government’s 2030 emissions target.
“The automotive industry is going electric, the consumers want to go electric, we as a government are just making these investments to further accelerate those timelines,” Bains said.
Unifor says its members at General Motors of Canada have voted 85% in favour of a new three-year contract that will mean the return of production to the automaker’s Oshawa, Ont., assembly plant.
The deal covers 1,700 workers in St. Catharines, Ont., Oshawa and Woodstock, Ont.
GM’s planned new investments under the agreement will include $1 billion to $1.3 billion at Oshawa as well as $109 million in St. Catharines to support added engine and transmission production and $500,000 in operations at the Woodstock Parts Distribution Centre.
GM Canada president Scott Bell said he expects the investment to be “significant” for Canada’s economy because it “will happen fast and generate thousands of new jobs.”