Ottawa: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday he had expressed his “deep disappointment” to General Motors over its decision to shutter a Canadian automotive assembly plant.
The move came as part of a massive restructuring announced earlier by the US auto giant that includes closing seven plants worldwide to save $6 billion.
Trudeau said the plant’s workers in Oshawa, in the east-central province of Ontario, had been “part of the heart and soul” of the community for generations and pledged government support for their families.
“Yesterday, I spoke with @GM’s (chief executive and chairwoman) Mary Barra to express my deep disappointment in the closure,” he tweeted.
The closure affects more than 2,500 workers who produce the Chevrolet Impala and the Cadillac XTS, as well as Silverado pick-up trucks.
Workers left at the start of their shift on Monday as assembly lines were shut down for the day.
Production began in 1953 and at its peak in the 1980s, the plant employed roughly 23,000 people.
Its operations even became a talking point for US President Donald Trump during tense Canada-US negotiations to revamp a continental trade pact.
“Every time we have a problem with a point, I just put up a picture of a Chevrolet Impala,” Trump said in off-the-record comments to Bloomberg that were reported by the Toronto Star.
Federal Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains, speaking in the House of Commons foyer, signaled the government’s intention to “continue to defend the automotive sector.”
He noted the several billions of dollars in loans and support for the sector from the Canadian and Ontario governments in 2009, while lamenting the hardship facing workers after the Oshawa plant closes.
“This is a really big deal in Oshawa,” he said. “There is a long-standing, proud history in terms of General Motors’s presence in Oshawa, so now to see this plant close… is incredibly devastating.”
Jerry Dias of Unifor, the union representing Canadian autoworkers, meanwhile, said the closure “makes no sense.”
The union, he said, “does not accept the closure of the plant as a foregone conclusion” and “will vigorously fight again to maintain these good-paying auto jobs.”
[source_without_link] Agence France-Presse[/source_without_link]