The Ontario government needs to “engage” with General Motors to protect jobs in Oshawa, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says.
With car production uncertain at GM’s plant beyond 2016, the government needs to ensure it’s in the conversation — possibly with tax dollars in hand — to keep GM in the province, Horwath said Wednesday.
“It’s Pollyanna to think that if you’re going to keep those kinds of jobs here, that you don’t have to come to the table as a government,” she said. “The crux of the matter is making sure … investment that government makes on behalf of the people of Ontario is a wise investment and that it’s tied to some guarantees around jobs and around longevity of the plants being here.”
As Sun Media’s Joe Warmington reported, uncertainty around GM’s plans after 2016 are ringing alarm bells in Oshawa.
Andrew Forgione, a spokesman for Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid, said GM has made strategic investments in the province totalling about $1 billion over the last several years, and that is why the government had chosen to enter into partnerships with the company.
Decisions about production are at the discretion of the company but the provincial government will continue monitoring the GM situation and is willing to partner with it to ensure the long-term success of the auto industry in Ontario, he said.
GM jobs are the kind that allow workers to put food on the table and pay the mortgages, Horwath said.
Although the NDP Leader is skeptical about other government investments — like the $309 million needed to buy out a private U.S. real estate firm’s share of a downtown Toronto office building in the MaRS complex — she said Ontario should be prepared to compete with other jurisdictions which are willing to put taxpayer funds directly into auto companies to retain and attract jobs.
“If we want to keep some share of the auto sector jobs here in Ontario then we have to be prepared to have those discussions,” she said.