Governments unveil details of $590M investment to help Ford Oakville plant make electric cars

Governments unveil details of $590M-canada-mileniostadium
Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announed the funding at separate press conferences on Thursday. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Government support was key requirement of last month’s deal between Ford and its union

The governments of Ontario and Canada are set to announce details of their plan to each spend $295 million to help Ford upgrade its assembly plant in Oakville to start making electric vehicles. The fact that the governments are chipping in cash is not new — it was a key part of last month’s $1.8-billion deal between Ford and its biggest union, Unifor, to start making five new electric car models at the plant.

Ford has put 800,000 electric cars on the road worldwide in recent years, but the company is ramping up production of electric vehicle production, because the company forecasts them to outsell fossil fuel-powered ones at some point in the next decade. The upgrade of the Ford plant will make Oakville into the company’s No 1. electric vehicle factory in North America.

Previous media reports said the governments were chipping in $500 million to the plan. On Thursday, both levels of government confirmed that they are each contributing $295 million for a total spend of $590 million.

“By making this investment in Ford Canada, we are ensuring our province continues to lead North America and the world in automotive manufacturing and innovation, while boosting our competitiveness in this key sector,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said. “We are also securing thousands of good-paying jobs, not just at the facility in Oakville, but across the province. This project will help support our auto parts sector and other suppliers and service providers.”

The Oakville plant currently employs about 3,400 workers. In a release, the federal government says the plan will secure 5,400 jobs across the company’s Canadian work force and supply chain. The federal cash is in addition to the government’s prior commitments to spend more than $300 million to create a network of fast-charging stations for electric vehicles across the country.

And Ottawa has also handed out $239 million so far to more than 56,000 Canadians who have purchased an electric vehicle — an average of more than $4,000 apiece.

“This is a win-win,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news event in Kanata, Ont., which was linked by video with Ford and other dignitaries on the ground in Oakville. “Today’s announcement is a testament to Canada’s attractiveness as a destination for clean technology, talent and infrastructure in the automotive industry. Companies like Ford are helping accelerate our transition to a low-carbon, clean-growth economy, which will help protect our environment, drive innovation, and create many good middle class jobs.”


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