The Ontario government is hoping to encourage automakers to stay and expand in the province.
Premier Dalton McGuinty announced an “automotive investment strategy” that will see the government spend $500 million over the next five years to train workers for the next generation of innovation in the industry.
“By investing in our workers and their skills, we can attract new investment and create high-wage jobs in the province’s largest manufacturing sector,” said McGuinty.
The program will provide support for leading-edge auto manufacturing projects that are worth more than $300 million in investment or that create or retain more than 300 jobs. The fund is earmarked to partner with industry for advanced skills training for workers, improved environmental and energy technologies, public infrastructure and investments in research and innovation.
Joseph Cordiano, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development and Trade, said the money has the potential to spur up to $5 billion in automotive investments.
“We are investing in better jobs by investing in better workers, and the tools they need to succeed,” said Cordiano. “Our automotive industry will be globally competitive, anchoring high-value jobs, which bring other benefits such as tax revenue to improve education and health services and increase our standard of living.”
Buzz Hargrove, president of the Canadian Auto Workers union, said the investment sends a strong signal that the government understands the importance of the sector to the Ontario and Canadian economy.
“This is a positive and welcome change from previous governments who took our sector for granted, when other jurisdictions were stepping up to attract investment and jobs that we want for Ontario,” said Hargrove. “This is good news for the industry.”
According to the Ontario government, the auto industry is a pillar of the province’s economy. It accounted for 45 per cent of Ontario’s exports in 2003. There are 331,000 jobs in the auto industry in Ontario — in everything from manufacturing to sales to service. And it supports thousands of additional jobs in supplier industries such as steel, plastics and gas.
news report said the money will help Ontario compete with subsidies being offered in the U.S. by Alabama and Mississippi. Five new auto plants are operating or are being built in Alabama, Mississippi and Texas.