By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
The province and other partners have opened another action centre to employees those affected by the closure of the General Motors plant.
The goal of the Independent Parts Supplier Action Centre, located at 1425 Phillip Murray Ave., is help those who worked for feeder plants which closed down as well to find new work and to give them the resources necessary to find these jobs.
Speaking to media after a brief tour of the facility, Ajax MPP and Minister of Finance Rod Phillips, joined by Whitby MPP Lorne Coe and Pickering-Uxbridge MPP Peter Bethlenfalvy, expressed his excitement to see the new action centre.
“This is the official opening of this action centre, which is [particularly] supporting the workers that were laid off [from] the parts supplier companies that were working with GM,” explained Phillips, who added more than 350 people have already accessed services at the action centre.
However, Phillips said while giving them resume help and providing them with other resources is a large part of the action centre’s purpose, it’s really about making sure these individuals can connect with jobs in their communities.
“We’ve had some really great support from [Durham] Region, the [City of Oshawa], Unifor…, and [there’s] real enthusiasm I think in the room from the former GM workers and the supplier workers who are looking forward to their next careers,” said Phillips.
He explains it’s vital for the province to reach out and help the workers affected by the closure of the plant.
“GM’s announcement was a very dark day in Durham… after over 100 years of history,” said Phillips. “This is about the community coming together, obviously supported by all levels of government, to make sure that we support those workers and their families.”
Speaking to The Oshawa Express, Oshawa MPP Jennifer French welcomed the action centre, noting she’s glad there is more than just money being thrown at the problem.
“[I’m glad] there is a space for workers to come together, not just to be together, but to fill in some of their skills gap, to make some plans for the future, and to do that with the support that they need,” she says.
French explains her office has been hearing from local businesses and organizations who want to help those who lost their jobs when GM closed the plant.
“They’re wanting to be a part of keeping Oshawa strong, but they didn’t know where to go,” says French. “So it is really important to have this action centre as a hub to be able to connect employers, workers, and education programs all together, because that is what hope looks like, when everyone comes together.”
When the announcement was made that the plant would be shutting its doors in November 2018, Premier Doug Ford quickly stated the ship had sailed in regards to keeping the plant open.
“I will never forgive the lack of involvement, commitment, and action as we were struggling as a community leading up to the abandonment by GM,” says French. “I am grateful, as I know everyone here is, that the province recognizes the importance of investing in the next step.”
She adds she is also glad the province, UNIFOR, and others working out a plan to bring the resources together to help those affected by the company’s decision to shut down the plant.
“I would never diminish that in anyway because this is something that is very important and key to that next chapter for folks,” she says.
French notes nothing about the action centre is partisan, and she wouldn’t say it has anything to do with one single political party.
“What this space is, is the education side, the provincial government level that absolutely should show leadership, but also show that commitment to communities,” she says.
She notes while ultimately the former workers wish they could still be on the job, at least there is a place where they can come together to get the help they need.