The General Motors assembly plant in Oshawa is in line for a major new investment: it’s going to build the new version of its Chevy Impala.
The federal government says the company will invest $68 million in the plant in a move that will secure 350 jobs.
The announcement follows a decision by GM earlier this year to build the new Cadillac XTS at the Oshawa plant.
That decision created or saved 400 jobs on the flexible assembly line.
The Oshawa assembly plant has had major changes in the last year, with new vehicle models and expanded production.
GM and its Canadian subsidiary were bailed out by the U.S., Canadian and Ontario governments two years ago and restructured its operations. In Canada, the company shut down a truck plant in Oshawa and a transmission plant in Windsor, Ont, and cut its workforce.
GM Canada president Kevin Williams appeared at the plant Friday morning with the announcement. Among the invited guests were federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Brad Duguid, Ontario’s minister of economic development and innovation.
GM had been tight-lipped on just what will be announced, including the size of its planned investment. However, speculation correctly centred on the new version of its popular Chevrolet Impala sedan.
GM’s Oshawa operations have seen a number of positive changes over the last year or so, with new vehicle models and expanded production that has added two new shifts and 1,300 jobs.
In August, GM announced a $117-million investment to prepare the plant to build the new Cadillac XTS next year. The automaker said the that move would create or save 400 jobs on the flexible assembly line in Oshawa, site of the company’s Canadian headquarters and main car-making operations.
However, union leaders have also been concerned by the company’s decision to shift a percentage of the next generation Impala to an assembly plant in Michigan.
“The ratio has not been locked down yet, but we will share production with our counterparts in the United States,” said Chris Buckley, president of the Oshawa Local of the Canadian Auto Workers union, who noted the current versions is produced exclusively in Canada at the consolidated plant in Oshawa.
That plant, which currently employs some 2,400 CAW members, is scheduled to close in the first quarter of 2013. The new Impala would be produced at the flex plant, which currently makes the Chevy Camaro, Buick Regal and soon, the Cadillac XTS. About 2,000 CAW members currently work at the flex plant.
“So this is a good news story,” Buckley said, “because it reconfirms the commitment on investment, reconfirms the products that we bargained — that we had recommitted during the auto crisis.”
“But at the end of the day, we’re still going to have a plant that’s closing. So we are going to suffer job loss.”
As a result, Buckley said the union will continue to press the federal and provincial governments help it convince General Motors to put additional products in Oshawa to keep the consolidated plant open.
“We have yet to be successful, but we are going to continue to try,” he said.
In 2009, Ontario partnered with the Canadian and American governments to help GM restructure. GM has since repaid its loans and announced approximately $1 billion in new investments.
GM’s other investments in Ontario include:
- $480 million in the engine and transmission facility in St. Catharines, securing 800 jobs.
- $117 million to prepare the Oshawa assembly plant for the production of the new Cadillac XTS, creating and securing 400 jobs.
- $96 million to expand capacity at its CAMI assembly plant in Ingersoll.
- The addition of a new shift for GM’s Oshawa operations securing over 1,300 jobs.