Magna International Inc. CEO Don Walker says automakers, their union and Canadian governments all have a role to play in keeping two assembly plants going in Ontario as labour negotiations get underway.
General Motors Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ford Motor Co. begin preliminary talks on Aug. 10 with Unifor, the union representing about 23,000 workers at the Canadian operations of the automakers, and the future of the plants is likely to be a core issue. GM hasn’t committed to new products for its Oshawa assembly plant after announcing plans to close one of two production lines and cut 1,000 jobs there by 2017, while Fiat Chrysler’s 30-year-old Brampton plant is in need of investment.
“The general public and the media have no concept of the spinoff tax benefits of this industry,” Walker, 59, said in an interview at Bloomberg’s Toronto office on July 27. “If the Chrysler Bramalea plant or GM close those plants, that would be very bad news for Ontario, for the taxpayers and the people here.”
The GM plant’s closure would immediately affect about 22,000 jobs in Ontario that rely on its operations and would cost more than $375 million (US$288 million) in provincial tax revenues within the first year, according to a 2015 study by the Centre for Spatial Economics.