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GM says no to government assistance

Automaker going alone in $400M in upgrades to Oshawa Assembly

Despite being eligible for more than $200 million in funds from the provincial and federal governments, General Motors has decided to go it alone with its planned $554 million in upgrades to its Canadian facilities, including $400 million to the Oshawa Assembly. The upgrades, which were agreed to following union negotiations last year will see the Oshawa Assembly produce both cars and trucks.

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

Despite being eligible for hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal and provincial governments for planned upgrades to its car production facility in Oshawa, General Motors has decided to take a pass.

First announced by Stephen Carlisle, the head of General Motors of Canada, the automaker has confirmed that it will be going it alone when it comes to the $554 million in planned upgrades to its facilities in Oshawa, St. Catharines and Woodstock, with the vast majority of that going towards the Oshawa Assembly.

“There was some appetite, potentially, to seek out some incentive money from the government, but we made the decision as a company not to proceed with that ask, and the company is fully committed to that 554 million in investment dollars for manufacturing, and we did not ask the government for any proportional investment for that project,” Jennifer Wright, a spokesperson for General Motors of Canada, tells The Oshawa Express. “So there never was a formal ask.”

General Motors was eligible to have a large chunk of their costs in the plant upgrades covered by the federal and provincial governments, as part of the prior’s Automotive Innovation Fund and the latter’s Jobs and Prosperity Fund, both of which offer as much as 20 per cent of the costs for new facilities or the improvement of existing ones. This means that the automaker would have been able to take in more than $200 million.

The automaker agreed to the millions in investments in its Canadian operations following contract negotiations with Unifor, the union that represents many of its workers, last fall. As part of that deal, General Motors said it would keep the Oshawa Assembly open and that a new product would be coming there in the near future.

Wright says that the new investments in the Oshawa Assembly will allow the plant to produce both cars and trucks, but that the automaker was not willing to discuss more at this point.

“It will be a shuttle type of arrangement, similar to what Oshawa has been doing with CAMI, in order to build trucks in the same facility,” Wright said of the current deal that sees Chevrolet Equinox production split between Oshawa and its CAMI site in Ingersoll.

Wright says that plans to shut down the consolidated line, which currently produces the Equinox, is on track to shut down in July, with those workers being transitioned over to the flex line, which currently produces the Chevrolet Impala, Buick Regal and Cadillac XTS.

While Wright did not disclose when, exactly, trucks would be rolling off the line in Oshawa, she did say the announcement might be coming sooner than many expect.

“It’s a pretty aggressive timeline. Obviously, there will be quite a few changes that need to be made to the plant in preparation for all this new equipment and the conveyance system for the new trucks, so that’s going to take some time,” she says.

“But it’ll be sooner than you think.”