Lise Vaugeois, NDP MPP for Thunder Bay-Superior North, is demanding answers after Ford broke his promise to Thunder Bay’s Alstom workers that anything bought in Ontario should be produced in Ontario.
The Ontario NDP had previously called on Ford to ensure Ontario Line subway cars would be built in Thunder Bay, after Ford secretly lowered the Canadian content rules for Ontario Line subway cars from 25 per cent to just 10 per cent. In contrast, the United States requires 75 per cent American-made content for publicly funded transit.
“It’s unforgiveable that Mr. Ford broke his promise that Ontario-made products would be prioritized, and Thunder Bay manufacturing jobs would be safe”, said Vaugeois. “Why is he waving goodbye to good jobs that workers in Thunder Bay could have done?”
The Ontario Line contract would have positioned the Alstom plant as the supplier of brand-new subway cars for the planned extension of the Toronto transit system. Instead, Doug Ford gave these jobs to Japanese-owned Hitachi, and abandoned highly skilled Thunder Bay workers. When Ford took office in 2018, there were 700-1300 workers at Alstom. There are currently just 150.
“Alstom workers are a hard-working backbone of our Thunder Bay community,” said Vaugeois. “The NDP warned Doug Ford not to water down the Canadian content rules. Now Thunder Bay workers are paying the price.”
The Alstom plant is at risk of shutting down entirely by 2025 if new contracts are not in place. The bidding process for the TTC’s Line Two subways is being held up because the province has yet to confirm its financial support for the project.
“Being able to bid on a project at some vague point in the future will not cut it”, said Vaugeois. “Alstom needs to be able to submit a bid very soon or it will be too late for the Thunder Bay plant. Ford must also commit to maintaining at least 25 per cent Canadian content for all future light rail projects, ensuring that no other jobs are lost in our communities.”
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