TORONTO—Government investment in the clean economy, including electric vehicle production, is necessary to secure good paying jobs and a prosperous future for Canada’s auto sector, says Unifor.
“The scale of the transition to electric vehicle production cannot be overstated, with fierce competition around the world for facilities and the long-term employment that comes with them,” said Unifor National President Lana Payne.
“The federal government’s latest investment shows that Canada is willing to put money and vision into a bold industrial strategy. Securing the VW battery plant is a historic win but it’s vital that workers share in this investment with good paying union jobs.”
The federal government will invest up to $13.2 billion over ten years in Volkswagen's first North American gigafactory, an EV battery cell plant to be built in St. Thomas, Ontario. The Ontario government has committed $500 million in direct incentives to the company in addition to funds to support local infrastructure.
In addition to capital cost subsidies, Volkswagen and its battery company PowerCo SE will receive production subsidies tied to plant production volumes.
“Unifor has long advocated that government investments must be conditional on continued production, but the company’s obligations shouldn’t end there,” said Payne. “VW is a new addition to the Canadian auto footprint and we fully expect the company to uphold our work standards and to respect their workers’ right to organize.”
The VW battery plant is just one of recent major electric vehicle investments. In 2020 bargaining with the Detroit Three automakers, Unifor brought the message that ‘The Future is Made in Canada’. With investment as a top priority the union secured more than $6 billion in combined commitments from Ford, GM and Stellantis.
In March 2022, Stellantis and LG announced a joint venture to build a lithium-ion battery plant in Windsor, Ontario.
In December 2022, the first BrightDrop all-electric delivery van rolled off the retooled GM CAMI assembly line in Ingersoll, Ontario.
In February of this year, it was announced that Unifor members at the General Motors (GM) St. Catharines Propulsion Plant will be the first Detroit Three facility in Canada to produce electric vehicle propulsion systems.
Last week, Ford Motor Company announced site transformation plans for Oakville that include both vehicle and battery assembly and the renaming of the facility to the Oakville Electric Vehicle Complex.
Unifor will enter negotiations with Detroit Three automakers later this year.
Unifor previously unveiled its set of 29 recommendations for governments and automakers in its auto policy document, Navigating the Road Ahead: Rebuilding Canada’s powerhouse auto sector.