NEWS
11/25/2018 20:17 EST | Updated 11/26/2018 14:57 EST

GM Plant In Oshawa Closing With Thousands Of Jobs On The Line

"It's going to affect the province, it's going to affect the region."

Vince Talotta via Getty Images
The General Motors Oshawa Assembly Plant is pictured in 2016.

OTTAWA — The Prime Minister's Office said Sunday it is "very disappointed" and concerned with the news General Motors Canada is planning to shut down its plant in Oshawa, Ont.

A federal official told HuffPost Canada the government will be working hard over the next few days to find ways to support the more than 2,500 workers and their families, who are expected to be affected in the city of roughly 170,000, east of Toronto.

The decision is unrelated to trade matters or the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the official said, adding it's part of global restructuring by General Motors to prioritize the production of autonomous, electric, and low-emission vehicles.

A spokeswoman for the company said Sunday that GM had "no news or comment tonight.''

It's going to affect the province, it's going to affect the region.Oshawa Mayor John Henry

The union representing the workers at the GM plant says that while it does not have complete details of the announcement, it has been informed that there is no product allocated to the Oshawa plant past December 2019.

Unifor says it a "does not accept this announcement,'' and is scheduled to meet with GM on Monday.

Oshawa Mayor John Henry said the closure would have ripple effects well beyond his city.

"It's going to affect the province, it's going to affect the region ... The auto industry's been a big part of the province of Ontario for over 100 years,'' Henry said in a phone interview.

Frank Gunn/Canadian Press
The GM plant in Oshawa on Jan. 24, 2018.

Federal and provincial politicians expressed concern for the thousands of high-paying jobs at the Oshawa plant — as well as the potential trickle-down effect a closure could have.

According to GM's website, the Oshawa Assembly Plant employs 2,522 workers with Unifor Local 222. Production began on Nov. 7, 1953, and in the 1980s the plant employed roughly 23,000 people.

The Oshawa operation became a Donald Trump talking point during Canada-U.S. trade negotiations, according to a Toronto Star report about an off-the-record aside during an interview with Bloomberg News over the summer.

"Every time we have a problem with a point, I just put up a picture of a Chevrolet Impala,'' the U.S. president was reported to have said. The Impala is built at the GM plant in Oshawa.

Unifor national president Jerry Dias said in April that the Oshawa complex was headed for closure in June of this year. But he noted the former head of GM Canada, Steve Carlisle, was determined it wouldn't close on his watch.

Carlisle was moved that month to head Cadillac, the global automaker's luxury car division as part of a management rotation.

At the time of the transfer, Dias said Carlisle's appointment to head Cadillac would raise his profile and influence within GM's headquarters in Detroit, and that "would be a huge benefit for us.''

With files from Althia Raj

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