GM Canada has completed a major milestone producing 10 million face masks for the Government of Canada to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the start of production on May 26, 2020, the team at Oshawa Operations produced approximately one million masks a month to help protect frontline workers and other Canadians during the pandemic.
Oshawa Mayor Dan Cater says the commitment GM made to produce the masks was an “extraordinary demonstration of an organization stepping up to help its country when it was needed the most.”
“I am also grateful to GM’s Oshawa workers who have a long history of answering the call,” he says. “Whether it’s producing aircraft fuselages and military transport vehicles to support our troops during the Second World War or making medical masks for our frontline heroes today, their quality work and sense of pride continues to shape our great city and we thank them.”
GM Canada President Scott Bell says while this milestone marks the end of the contract with Health Canada, GM will “leverage the speed and agility of our pandemic response to continue supporting our customers and communities.”
The 10 millionth mask will be donated to the Ingenium, Canada’s Museum of Science and Innovation in Ottawa.
The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, says this past year has shown that in difficult times, Canadians roll their sleeves up together.
“Canada was in need of PPE, and GM Canada stepped up to be part of the solution by contributing to Canada’s domestic capacity for crucial face masks,” he says. “I want to thank GM Canada, its workers and Unifor, for playing an important part in Canada’s fight against COVID-19. You are tremendous examples of Canadian kindness and ingenuity.”
The automaker fulfilled its commitment at cost for the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Unifor National President Jerry Dias says when Health Canada needed masks urgently to fight the spread of COVID-19, Unifor members were proud to get to work and ramp up production quickly.
“These highly skilled workers have shown that they can adapt and step up when needed,” he says. “This project shows what we can accomplish when the union, government and the employer work together to collaborate, and should the Government of Canada require further orders, Unifor members are ready, willing and able to resume mask production if called upon.”
Furthermore, GM Canada will be producing nearly 500,000 additional masks that will be donated to nearly 450 GM Canada dealers to donate to local organizations across the country.
“I’m proud to be associated with GM Canada and the work they did to protect Canadians as we continue through these challenging times,” says Mary Nurse, owner of Nurse Chevrolet in Whitby. “Because dealerships like mine have such deep connections to our local communities, we have seen firsthand how the pandemic has affected so many charitable organizations and the people they serve.”
It is now full steam ahead at Oshawa Assembly in preparing the plant for full-sized pickup production.
Oshawa Assembly received a $1.3 billion investment in November 2020 to build a new body shop and flexible assembly module with the intention of starting production in January 2022.