Published: Fri, July 12, 2019
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Canada's Bombardier to lay off 550 workers at Ontario rail plant

Canada's Bombardier to lay off 550 workers at Ontario rail plant

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the Bombardier plant is the cornerstone of Thunder Bay's economy.

Bombardier's layoffs come as two major Ontario contracts, including for TTC streetcars and Metrolinx GO Transit rail cars, are scheduled to conclude by the end of the year.

As hundreds of employees at Bombardier's railway manufacturing plant in Thunder Bay, Ont. face the reality of losing their jobs, a war of words has erupted between the provincial and federal governments over exactly who should bear the blame.

Ford said the fix to all of this would be for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to sign off on his $28.5-billion subway plan for Toronto, for which Ontario is hoping Ottawa will share the costs.

Federal Labour Minister Patty Hajdu says in a statement that Ontario Premier Doug Ford failed to deliver on a promised contract for the facility in her hometown that could have saved jobs. "But the thing is, it doesn't look like things are going to go back up", he said in an interview.

Fedeli said his government recently met with Bombardier and Unifor - the union representing 1,100 workers at the northern facility - and offered to purchase $100 million in vehicles.

Hadju said $8.3 billion in federal infrastructure money was available over the past year for transit projects in the GTA, but Ontario has yet to ask for it. "They've done absolutely nothing to support these people in Thunder Bay".

In a statement issued Wednesday, Bombardier noted the layoffs should come as no surprise to the province or the feds.


"Our government has spoken to executives at Bombardier to express our disappointment that their company has taken this step", she said.

Pasqualino laid part of the blame for a lack of new contracts on the province, however, saying that "our customer is the government, it's not individuals". "We want that commitment before the election", Fedeli said.

Canada's Bombardier (BBDb.TO) said on Wednesday it would lay off around half of the workforce, or about 550 employees, at its passenger train plant in Ontario, effective November 4, confirming earlier media reports.

The Montreal-based plane and train maker said in a statement that two existing contracts in the province are slated to wind down and the plant has no new trains to build.

The transportation giant has been downsizing its aerospace and railway operation for several years as it attempts to improve profitability.

"It was just a few months ago that Doug Ford told the union president that there would be another contract coming", she said.

The threshold for local content requirements on public transportation projects in the US sits at 65 percent, and will climb to 70 percent this fall.

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