WINDSOR, Ont.—The president of the union representing workers at Ford Motor Co. of Canada, Ltd. said he hopes job gains at the automaker’s Oakville, Ont., assembly facility will spill over to its engine plant in the province.
Jerry Dias, national president of Unifor, said his union is hopeful there may also be jobs added at Ford’s engine plant in Windsor, Ont.
“There’s lots of discussions going on, so we’re still waiting for a final decision. But obviously, we’re optimistic,” Dias said in an interview.
Dias’ comments come after Ford announced it will add 1,000 hourly workers at its assembly plant just west of Toronto as it ramps up production of the next-generation Edge crossover there.
He said that the union’s current contract—which increased the number of years it takes for new employees to reach the highest wage scale to 10 years from five—was helpful but only one part of Ford’s decision.
“I would suggest to you, more than the labour costs, is the fact that the Canadian dollar is sitting at around 90 cents (American) and it has been projected to go lower,” Dias said.
He said economists were forecasting a year ago, when Ford announced its $700-million investment, that the Canadian dollar could go as low as 85 cents American and stay in that range.
“That would be much more of an incentive than anything that we can do in labour negotiations,” Dias said.
A Scotiabank report on the global auto industry said the Canadian auto parts sector has benefited from a depreciation of the loonie over the past 18 months as well as increased vehicle sales in the United States.
“The industry has also started to make inroads in becoming more geographically diversified, with shipments outside of the United States advancing by 19 per cent so far this year—the largest increase of the past decade,” wrote Scotiabank economist and auto industry expert Carlos Gomes.
Gomes said vehicle assembly in Canada has been dampened by retooling at several assembly plants, but auto parts shipments have surged 14 per cent so far this year—nearly triple the increase in overall manufacturing activity.
Ford said it expects to increase spending on Canadian-made auto parts by $200 million a year, to nearly $4 billion annually, providing a much-needed shot in the arm for Ontario’s manufacturing sector and Canadian exporters.