Despite having all federal options to save General Motors’ assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont. on the table, Canada’s economic development minister said Monday that a meeting with the automaker’s CEO in Detroit didn't change the planned outcome of the factory.
Navdeep Bains, speaking in Windsor, Ont., before the meeting said the federal government “stands shoulder to shoulder” with the autoworkers and did not rule out federal financial assistance as a way to keep General Motors operating its assembly plant northeast of Toronto.
But after meeting with Mary Barra, he didn't sound convinced the automaker would ever reverse course.
“The first thing I raised was the future of Oshawa where I urged her to reconsider the decision to close the plant,” Bains said. “I regret that GM’s position on Oshawa has not changed, but our government has been clear from the start: we stand ready to play an active role to find a solution for Oshawa’s workers and in shaping the future of the auto industry. GM is making a mistake by giving up on Oshawa’s workers, and we’re not about to do the same.”
GM said in November it would no longer allot the plant product after 2019. The automaker said it will stop the truck shuttle program that sees it ship unfinished, outgoing models of the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado to Oshawa from a plant in Indiana. The automaker also said it will stop building the Chevy Impala and Cadillac XTS, both of which are assembled in Oshawa.
GM Canada said in a statement in January that “economic factors created an imperative need to consolidate operations, reduce costs and improve cash flow.”
“We firmly believe GM is making a mistake by leaving Oshawa,” Bains said after a funding announcement at Tier II supplier APAG in Windsor. “We’re willing to partner up and be part of the solution.”
Bains said APAG, a Swiss company that mainly supplies BMW, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche, would get $4 million to help establish a North American headquarters and a research and development centre in Windsor. The electronic control units that it will be made in Windsor will supply Volkwagen’s assembly plant in Spartanburg, S.C. The Windsor facility will employ about 150 people.
When asked if the federal government would offer GM a similar financial incentive to keep Oshawa open, Bains said: “All options are on the table.”
“We have a government that’s willing to step up and be a partner,” he said. “This is about GM having a long-term future in Oshawa. This is about making sure we secure mandates for GM in Oshawa.