By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
With the closure of Oshawa’s assembly plant in view, an “action centre” has opened to provide affected workers with training and services.
Through a partnership with the provincial government, General Motors of Canada, and Unifor, the action centre had a “soft opening” in mid-September, and is now fully functional.
Monte McNaughton, the province’s newly-appointed Minister of Labour, Training, and Skills Development was in the city for the centre’s opening.
He said approximately 200 workers have accessed services through the centre in just the past week.
“I sincerely want to thank Unifor and General Motors for working with us on this Action Centre,” McNaughton said.
The province has invested $531,700 into the centre through its Rapid Re-Employment Training Service program.
McNaughton said he realizes it is a tumultuous time for workers and their families.
“The past number of months, as we know, have been very difficult for workers at the Oshawa GM assembly plant. I want the people of Oshawa and Durham to know your government will always stand with you,” he added.
Some of the services offered at the centre included assistance writing resumes and job searching, counselling, and others.
“This centre will be a one-stop-shop for workers,” McNaughton said.
Durham MPP Lindsey Park said the announcement “reaffirms” the Ford government’s commitment to workers at GM, its part supplier plants, and residents of Oshawa and Durham.
Durham College hosted a job fair for GM workers, featuring more 40 community and employer organizations, including Employment Ontario.
“They are so excited to have GM workers join their teams,” Park said.
Park said while the plant’s closure has caused hard times for many people, she knows how “talented and resilient the people of Oshawa and Durham are,” and they will come together.
Dino Chiodo, Unifor’s Ontario Chair, said the action centre is already paying dividends for workers.
“It helps them find opportunities and necessary support. This is all to keep our members connected and helping them to move their lives forward,” he said.
There are several ‘peer helpers’ at the centre who come directly from the plant, and this provides a sense of comfort for workers.
Chiodo notes the thought of retraining can be onerous for employees who have worked for GM most of their adult lives.
“It’s not an easy task whatsoever,” he says.