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French calls for Ford to push for opening of GM plant

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

Oshawa MPP Jennifer French has called for Premier Doug Ford to put the General Motors plant to use.

In her letter, she writes residents of Oshawa and Durham are concerned about the impact of COVID-19, and families are anxious because of personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages and uncertain supply chains.

MPP Jennifer French

“We have a clear opportunity in Oshawa to rise to the challenge and manufacture what is needed during this unprecedented challenge,” she writes. “The General Motors plant in Oshawa sits nearly empty, while an experienced, skilled and motivated workforce is ready and raring to keep frontline workers and communities protected in this fight.”

She notes the plant remains nearly empty, and residents are watching as other autoplants, such as the plant in Warren, MI, have been retooled to produce PPE, such as 1.5 million masks per month, and other products.

She also notes in GM has teamed up with Ventec Life Systems in Kokomo, IN, to produce ventilators for American hospitals.

French believes this can be done now in Canada.

“The time is now. Canada needs to keep its communities as healthy and protected as possible,” she writes.

After US President Donald Trump made decisions in the past which would have kept N-95 masks meant for Canadians.

For French, when Ford called Ontario “the manufacturing engine in this country” and said the province will step up, it struck a cord.

“Right now, as we are facing an uncertain future, our workers and neighbours are certain that we have the heart, the ability, the experience and the capacity to do what is needed and build what is desperately needed,” she writes. “All that appears to be missing is the political will and for GM to consider the health of Canadians to be as important as that of Americans.”

French continues by writing Ontario needs Ford to push GM to partner with Canadians, and open the Oshawa plant back up.

“We have seen in Windsor that Ford Motor Company of Canada has started producing face shields for frontline healthcare workers and first responders,” she writes.

French believes GM can make a huge difference and can help keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“General Motors can make a huge difference in Ontario’s fight to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep people protected during this global pandemic. This is not an ask for Oshawa – this is an ask for Canada,” she writes.

A spokesperson for GM Canada previously told The Oshawa Express that GM Canada “is committed to helping our frontline medical workers.”

“We have our engineers supporting Ontario Tech University and OPG on the development of medical face shields and our first delivery of donated personal protective equipment is being picked up soon by the Public Health Agency of Canada from our Oshawa parts plant,” they said. “We also have Canadian suppliers helping with the GM partnership with Ventec in the U.S. to manufacture ventilators. We are looking at a number of other ways we can help and will share those details when appropriate.”

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