POLITICS
10/08/2020 13:36 EDT | Updated 10/08/2020 13:50 EDT

Ontario's Ford Plant Gets $590M In Government Funding To Make Electric Cars

Retooling the facility will help save thousands of jobs, a union leader says.

THE CANADIAN PRESS
The ford assembly plant is seen here in Oakville, Ont., on March 19, 2020. The Oakville plant employs 3,400 workers.

OAKVILLE, Ont. — The federal and Ontario governments are each chipping in more than $250 million to mass produce electric vehicles — and the batteries that power them — at the Ford Motor Company’s plant in Oakville, Ont.

Unifor revealed the governments will be spending a total of $590 million combined.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the joint investment Thursday morning, calling it an important step in building the next generation of Canada’s auto industry.

It is part of a three-year agreement worth nearly $2 billion that was announced last month between the automaker and Unifor, the union that represents autoworkers in Canada.

The premier spoke at the Oakville plant with representatives of the motor company for the announcement.

Trudeau and Unifor president Jerry Dias joined them virtually from the company’s connectivity and innovation centre in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata, Ont.

The Oakville plant employs 3,400 Ford workers and Dias has said retooling the plant to produce electric vehicles will save 3,000 of those jobs.

The agreement will also have a significant impact on the industry’s supply chain, including auto parts suppliers in the region, Trudeau said Thursday.

“For our auto sector, for the environment, this is a win-win,” he said.

Watch: Canada’s charging station problem is hurting electric car ownership. Story continues below.

 

From the Liberal government’s perspective, the investment will not only help secure good-paying jobs in the struggling auto sector. It hopes it will give Canada an edge in the global competition to meet what’s expected to be explosive demand for electric vehicles in the near future.

The funding is also part of the government’s commitment to invest in the transition to a clean, renewable-energy economy, with the goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

It has already committed more than $300 million to create a network of fast-charging stations for electric vehicles across the country. And it is providing incentives of up to $5,000 off the price of purchasing or leasing electric and hybrid vehicles.

The federal government also hopes the new investment will help boost home-grown mining companies that produce the nickel and other metals used to make the batteries for electric vehicles. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 8, 2020.

With files from HuffPost Canada

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