Leaders celebrate GM Oshawa investment

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Published April 4, 2022 at 4:40 pm

Federal, Provincial and Oshawa leaders celebrate GM investment
Federal, provincial and municipal representatives came to together to celebrate a third shift at General Motors Oshawa factory. - Photo via Colin Carrie

Leaders across Durham Region are praising yesterday’s announcement of a slew of investments in to Oshawa’s General Motors plant.

Representatives from, the Federal and Provincial Governments convened with GM executive to announce the sending up to $259 million in grants to General Motors to complement the manufacturer’s $2 billion investment in it Ingersoll and Oshawa factories.

The money is set to help fund Ingersoll’s electric vehicle (EV), an Ontario first, and the expansion of production in Oshawa. The Oshawa plant is using the funds to finance a new Chevy Silverado production line and the addition of a third worker’s shift adding to an estimated 2,600 jobs created since the plant’s return.

Oshawa and General Motors shared a symbiotic growth for more than a century after the Oshawa-based McLaughlin Motor Company and Detroit-based Buick fused into GM in 1918.

Both the city and the company developed together in the following decades. Oshawa grew to accommodate the expanding production. After moving from the downtown core to the Autoplex in the 1980s, GM Oshawa peaked at roughly 25,000 employees. An Ontario-wide network of feeder plants and business, like restaurants, developed to support the Oshawa.

All that went up in exhaust fumes during the 2008 automotive crash, resulting a industry bailout via a $13.7 billion loan to GM and Chrysler. Production in Oshawa limped on after the crash, but ultimately came to an abrupt stop shortly before Christmas 2018.

Only about $10 billion was returned to federal coffers before the Federal government wrote off the remaining arrears in 2018, costing taxpayers around $3.7 billion.

Workers were shocked when they came into work the morning of November 26 only to be greeted by the news they’d soon be out of a job. The closure put around 2,300 people out of work.

After intense lobbying by GM workers union Unifor and other partners, General Motor announced they would re-open the Oshawa plant after a year-long shuttering. Some 1,800 job openings returned to Oshawa and production on two truck lines resumed November 2021.

Now GM is adding a third production line bringing the total jobs returned to Oshawa up to 2,600 positions. For the first time since the closure more people will be employed at GM Oshawa than before the mass layoffs.

Yesterday’s announcement was met with great joy from local leaders from all stripes.

“A banner day for our city, our workers and their families, along with huge spinoff production and jobs that will soon flow,” said Oshawa MP Colin Carrie.

Carrie’s provincial counterpart Jennifer French echoed these sentiments, ““I am so glad that the workers and our community of Oshawa have won another important victory. I am thankful that GM has recommitted to our community.  For more than a hundred years we have built the future and imagined the possibilities.

However she also wasn’t one to let Ford of the hook, “When Doug Ford said “the ship has left the dock” when it came to closing the GM plant in Oshawa, he was wrong. It was workers, their families and the community that were right to have hope and to have never given up.”

French also called out the Ford Government for getting rid of electric vehicle rebates and removing charging stations that would have supported this sort of move earlier.

Regional Chair John Henry said, “Today’s announcement on bringing even more jobs and prominence to the Oshawa Assembly Plant is welcome news for the residents and families of Oshawa and across Durham Region.”

Henry stressed the significance of Oshawa’s status as the only place both light and heavy model trucks. “With this significant investment, GM has made it clear they intend to grow and maintain their position as a key player in advanced mobility in Ontario.”

“This strengthens Durham Region’s already longstanding excellence in automotive manufacturing and energy innovation and will help usher in the next generation of motion. Such as developing a path forward towards electric and autonomous mobility.”

Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter said, “Great cities do hard things; they solve big issues and create new opportunities to achieve success. These investments in the Oshawa Assembly Plant will solidify Oshawa as a leader in the new automotive industry for years to come. The great city of Oshawa has a bright future ahead.”

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